The Markets (second quarter through June 30, 2021)
The second quarter began with stocks making solid gains in April. COVID vaccines became available to more Americans. The federal government and several states pushed forward with reopening after relaxing many of pandemic-related constraints. Economic data was favorable and encouraging. The first-quarter gross domestic product accelerated at an annualized rate of 6.4%, claims for unemployment slowed, 266,000 new jobs were added, and manufacturing expanded. Price inflation expanded, although the Federal Reserve asserted that it would continue stimulus measures, even if inflation reached and exceeded the Fed’s 2.0% target. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid monthly gains, led by the Nasdaq (5.4%), followed by the S&P 500 (5.2%), the Global Dow (2.9%), the Dow (2.7%), and the Russell 2000 (2.1%). Bond prices increased, pulling yields lower. Crude oil prices ended April at $63.50 per barrel after increasing by more than 7.0% from March. The dollar slipped 2.1%, while gold prices rose 3.5%, closing April at $1,788.20 per troy ounce.