U.S. stocks mixed
U.S. stocks were little changed in May after a sustained run-up in the market. The S&P 500 Index was up 0.55% in May, from 4,181.17 at the end of April to 4,204.11 at the May close. The total return for the S&P 500 (including dividends) for the month was 0.70%. (The S&P 500 is a market-cap-weighted index that represents the average performance of a group of 500 large capitalization stocks.)
The NASDAQ Index was down 1.53% for the month, from 13,962.68 at the end of April to 13,748.74 at the May close. (The NASDAQ – National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations – is an electronic stock exchange with more than 3,300 company listings.)
Retail sales flatten
Retail and food services sales were unchanged from the previous month in April, according to the Department of Commerce retail report issued May 14. But compared with one year earlier, when the pandemic lockdown was just beginning, retail sales in April were up 51%.
Auto sales were up 2.9% for the month – and up 104.5% from a year earlier; building material sales were down 0.7% for the month, but up 33.8% from a year earlier; electronics and appliance stores were up 1.2% for the month and 139.0% from a year earlier; and department store sales were down 1.9% for the month but up 72.5% from a year earlier. Restaurants and bars also extended their recovery, with the food services and drinking places category up 3.0% for the month and 116.8% from a year earlier. Non-store retailers (primarily online) were down 0.6% for the month – as shoppers began to head back to brick and mortar retailers – but sales were still up 14.5% from a year earlier.
Unemployment claims drop as job openings skyrocket
The number of job openings in the U.S. reached the highest level ever in May, with a total of 8.1 million job openings in the U.S., according to a May 11 report from the U.S. Department of Labor. Unemployment claims have continued to drop as businesses reopen and the economy rebounds. In the week ending May 22, the 4-week moving average was 458,750, which was the lowest level since March 14, 2020. Unemployment claims are expected to continue to decline as the economy strengthens.
The U.S. unemployment rate dropped 0.3% to 5.8% in May, as the economy added 559,000 new jobs, according to the Department of Labor employment situation report issued June 7. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by $0.15 cents to $30.33.
Energy leads all sectors in May
The Energy sector of the S&P 500 was up 5.77% in May to lead all sectors, as the rally in oil prices continued. Trailing closely behind were Materials, up 5.22%, and Financials, up 4.79%. Four of the 11 sectors of the S&P 500 were down in April, including Consumer Discretionary, Utilities, Information Technology, and Communication Services.
The chart below shows the results of the 11 sectors for the past month and year-to-date: