Last week was a challenging one for most risk assets, as investors recalibrated their global growth expectations in the face of the rapidly spreading delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. In the US, large cap stocks were mostly lower, with only traditional defensives like utilities (+2.6%) , staples (+1.3%), and real estate (+0.7%) registering small gains. Cyclicals (particularly energy) came under selling pressure, as did small and midcap companies. International stocks were mixed, with developed markets lower on the week while E/M finished higher.
US Treasuries were treated as a safe haven, sending yields lower and bond prices higher. 10y and 30y Treasury yields both fell 7 basis points on the week, pushing the 2s10s curve to 107 basis points, the lowest since mid-February.
After touching a new pandemic-era high on Tuesday, oil prices fell on Wednesday and Thursday, finishing the week at 1-month lows.
Economic data was mixed. In encouraging news, Empire Manufacturing was very strong, retail sales were up sequentially, and weekly jobless claims continue to trend lower. Conversely, the Philly Fed’s monthly business outlook declined, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Comfort gauge was down, and inflation data (CPI and PPI) for June came in higher than expected, with headline CPI reaching +5.4% y/y while core CPI was +4.5%. As was the case in the previous two months, most of the drivers of above-trend inflation appear to be transitory factors related to the reopening of the economy.