Last week, the FDA approved Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug candidate, aducanumab (marketed as Aduhelm). This approval looks likely to be a watershed moment for the biotech industry. The shares of Biogen were halted for the announcement. And as anticipated, they popped once trading resumed.
Last week saw a number of important economic data releases, with a focus on retail sales and producer inflation in May, as well as the Fed’s June meeting. Retail sales fell by more than expected, but we saw an upward revision to April’s sales report that helps explain the May decline. This week will be busy once again, with May’s housing sales, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending reports serving as highlights.
Last week saw a number of important economic updates, with May’s business confidence and employment reports serving as highlights. This week will be relatively quiet, with only a few major releases scheduled. Given recent concerns about rising inflationary pressure, the focus will be largely on Thursday’s release of the Consumer Price Index for May.
Last week, I went back into the office after what felt like an eternity. I must admit, I had never realized how much I would miss the hallway greetings, the coffee machine chitchat, and the ladies’ room gossip! My kids are back in school full-time and took the MCAS (the state assessment for Massachusetts public students) last week. Fenway Park returned to full capacity, and vaccinated fans were allowed to go without masks for the Red Sox game on May 29. It is finally beginning to feel like life is returning to normal, to what it should have been if the past 14 months had not occurred. Elsewhere in the world, progress has not been as even, but there is reason to believe that glimmers of light are beginning to appear everywhere.
May was another good month, albeit one with some ups and downs. On the upside, the pandemic entered its endgame and corporate earnings blew away expectations. On the downside, the significant problems of success attending our move back to normal started to become apparent. Overall, May took us further along the road to normal, but it also began to reveal the bumps on that road.
It was a mixed bag for the markets in May, with the Dow up more than 2 percent, the S&P 500 up slightly, and the Nasdaq down. On the medical front, case growth and death rates declined, and more than 4 of 10 people are now fully vaccinated. With fading medical risks, the economy continued to improve. Layoffs are trending down, and consumer confidence remains close to pre-pandemic levels.