Equities bounced back last week despite surging covid-19 cases in many parts of the world. Large cap technology stocks led the way, allowing the Nasdaq to post a 2.8% total return on the week. Most cyclical and defensive sectors were also higher, although energy and utilities both finished slightly in the red during a week of significant oil price volatility. As has been the case for much of 2021, emerging market equities struggled, reflecting the increased health risk of the delta variant in many developing countries with low vaccination rates.
Bond prices also moved higher last week despite the strong gains in equities. Treasuries managed to eke out a small rally with 10y yields falling 1 basis point, while credit spreads remained stable.
Energy prices endured a week of high volatility. Oil fell by more than $5/barrel on Monday after OPEC+ reached an agreement to increase production in August. However, prices rose during each of the ensuing four trading sessions to finish the week largely unchanged.
Economic news was mixed last week. Housing starts rose in fresh June data, but new residential building permits fell. New jobless claims unexpectedly ticked higher, while continuing claims were steady. Markit’s US Manufacturing PMI improved sequentially and exceeded expectations in the preliminary July reading, but the Services and Composite PMIs unexpected fell. Finally, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 0.7% sequentially in June, the 4th consecutive month of very strong improvement.