Today, I’d like to provide an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. We’ve had good news on the medical front, as the fourth wave of the virus doesn’t seem to be gaining traction. Case counts and positive test rates are back to the lows we saw as the third wave subsided, and hospitalizations and death rates have improved. One potential problem is that vaccination rates have slowed, which we will need to keep an eye on.
Market Thoughts for May 2021 [Video]
April was a good month for the markets. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained more than 5 percent, while the Dow was up almost 3 percent. These returns were driven, in part, by the medical news, with new case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths all down. While the medical risks declined, reopening accelerated. Job growth rose, and weekly layoffs dropped. Consumer confidence and spending also improved.
Monday Update (on Tuesday): Consumer Confidence Climbs in April
Looking Back at the Markets in April and Ahead to May 2021
If the month of March was a turning point (and it was), the month of April demonstrated that March was not a fluke. The data showed we have really turned the corner in many ways. In April, the fourth wave of the pandemic started—and then fizzled out, resulting in much lower infection rates to end the month. Layoffs tumbled and consumer confidence rose to pre-pandemic levels. Markets rallied to all-time highs once again. In April, things got better across the board.
Medical Risks Rolling Over, Economy Accelerating
April was a good month. While it started with what looked like another wave of infections, by month-end, we were back at recent lows for both case growth and positive test rates. Vaccinations have now hit a substantial part of the population, and that looks to have controlled the virus. The medical risks are still real, but they are now about whether and when we hit herd immunity, rather than whether we have a fourth wave. This is significant progress and means the medical risks are low and likely to decline further over the next month.