- The number of daily new coronavirus cases has continued to trend down over the past two weeks. On May 30, there were a little more than 400,000 cases registered globally, a low not seen since mid-March, when the second wave was just gathering speed. The U.S. and the U.K. are making strong progress in their vaccination efforts, while the European Union is somewhat behind, although it is catching up quickly. A new version of the virus that comes from India appears to be spreading more quickly and has prompted fears the developed economies will not fully open up as soon as previously thought.
- U.S. retail sales were flat in April, compared with an advance of 10.7% in the prior month. Excluding the volatile automobile sector, retail sales declined by 0.8%.
- The inflation outlook in the U.K. and the eurozone appears to be well-anchored, despite fears of accelerating prices in the U.S. Indeed, the U.K. consumer price index (CPI) for April was confirmed at 1.5% year-over-year, while in Europe it stands at 1.6%.
- U.S. unemployment claims continued to drop, with the number of people filing for unemployment insurance falling to below 900,000 in the fortnight ended May 21 from more than one million in the prior two-week period.
- The European manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stayed at a very high level of 62.8 in May, beating analysts’ expectations of 62.5, although it was slightly below April’s record high.
- Meanwhile, European services PMI came in at 55.1 in May, the highest level since July 2020, as a gradual reopening of the hospitality and entertainment industry has boosted sentiment in the industry. The U.K. has seen an expansion of its manufacturing PMI from 60.9 to 66.1 in May, and services PMI advanced from 61 to 61.8.
- In the U.S., services PMI surged to a record level of 70.1 in May, from 64.7 in the prior month. Meanwhile, manufacturing PMI advanced slightly from 60.5 to 61.5.
- The U.S. has confirmed that its GDP grew by an annualized rate of 6.2% in the first quarter of 2021, following a 4.3% increase in the last quarter of 2020.
- We provide this report on a fortnightly basis. To stay up to date with mutual fund market events, come back to our news page here.
U.S. Broad Indices
- U.S. equities are all up over the past two weeks.
- Vanguard Mid-Cap Index Fund Institutional Shares (VMCIX) is up 1.77%, comfortably beating peers.
- Meanwhile, Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares (VFIAX) rose just 0.80%, the weakest performance from the pack.
- Fixed income assets were mixed.
- Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Fund Investor Shares (VWESX) gained 1.03% for the past two weeks, by far the best performance from the pack.
- Sectors were mostly up with some exceptions.
- T. Rowe Price Communications & Technology Fund Investor Class (PRMTX) is the best performer, climbing 3.68% for the past two weeks.
- At the other end of the spectrum is Franklin Utilities Fund Class A (FKUQX), which lost nearly 1.20% for the fortnight.
- Foreign equities were all up.
- Matthews India Fund Investor Class (MINDX) gained 6.26% for the past two weeks, beating other countries by a fair amount.
- T. Rowe Price Japan Fund (PRJPX) was at the other side of the spectrum with a relatively small advance of 1.62%.
- Alternative assets were all up.
- Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGSLX) is the best performer, climbing 2.82%, after posting the worst performance in the prior fortnight.
- Cohen & Steers Preferred Securities and Income Fund, Inc. Class I (CPXIX) is up just 0.21%, the worst performance from the pack.
The Bottom Line
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Fund returns data are for the two-week period between May 14, 2021, to May 28, 2021.