The first half of February has proven to be very positive. Every major market has posted several new record highs over the past several weeks. Optimism comes from hopes that the economy will continue to recover. The Congressional Budget Office recently issued the following statement, “The American economy will return to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of the year even if Congress does not approve any more federal aid for the recovery, but it will be years before everyone thrown off the job by the pandemic is able to return to work.”
Employment data continues to send mixed messages. January unemployment numbers were lower than expected with 175,000 new jobs being created (estimates were for 50,000.) But last week new jobless claims totaled 793,000 while only 760,000 were expected.
Returning all Americans to work is clearly a goal, although opinions vary on when this can be achieved. Janet Yellen, the new Treasury Secretary recently stated, “COVID relief plans could bring the US back to full employment by 2022.”
Month to date, the Dow Jones has grown by over 1,500 points (5%+), the S&P 500 has risen 200 points (5%+) and the NASDAQ has increased by 800 points (6%+).
Earlier this month, Mike Loewengart, Managing Director of Investment Strategies at E-Trade, summarized market conditions: “Under the surface, there is an economy regaining serious momentum. When matched with stellar earnings reports from big tech names this week, along with a reinvigorated vaccine push and COVID cases dropping across the US, a positive full picture is emerging.”