Four Factors to Watch
1. Infrastructure Bill
NBC reported that President Joe Biden met with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders at the White House to attempt to reach an agreement on his $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill. It was Biden’s first meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell since taking office in January. McCarthy reported that the meeting was “productive” and that he sees an opportunity for Republicans to work with the president on an infrastructure plan. But both Republicans ruled out any tax increases or revisions to the 2017 tax overhaul, which is how Biden has proposed paying for his plan. Immediately after the meeting, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reiterated her prediction that a bill would be brought to the floor by July 4.
2. COVID-19 Case Numbers
In the last week, the seven-day average of daily COVID cases dropped from 45,100 to 36,800. As vaccinations increase, even sharper drops in daily cases are expected by July. The seven-day average of daily fatalities dropped slightly from 693 to 629. Seven-day averages of COVID cases trended down in California, Texas, and Florida:
- California: from 1,905 to 1,760
- Texas: from 3,190 to 2,650
- Florida: from 3,520 to 2,340
States that have been more recently hard hit, like New York and Michigan, have seen more precipitous drops in daily cases. At the end of March, New York’s seven-day average was over 10,000 and is now down to 2,240. A month ago, Michigan’s seven-day average was over 7,800 and is now approximately 2,600.
First-time jobless claims fell from 507,000 (adjusted up from 498,000 the previous week) to 473,000 last week and were below economists’ projections of 490,000. Job openings are at a record 8.1 million, yet nearly 10 million people are still officially unemployed. Labor remains the fundamental constraint for many companies and layoffs are at all-time lows.
The consumer price jump in April, the largest in almost 12 years, is being fueled by supply chain disruptions and recovery of the tourism sector. Increases across the board contributed to the consumer price index increase of 0.8% from the prior month, as super-charged demand is resulting in costs being passed on to consumers. The labor department reported that the CPI, which excludes the food and energy components, increased by 0.9% from March— the largest jump since 1982.
5. COVID Vaccine Update
Last week, federal health officials advised that fully vaccinated individuals can stop wearing masks or maintaining social distance in most indoor and outdoor settings, regardless of size. It is thought that the move will incentive those who are on the fence about vaccination to get inoculated. The pace of daily doses has slowed about 36% from its peak of 3.38 million about a month ago. To date, about one-third of the nation’s population have been fully vaccinated. Last week, the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for emergency use in 12–15-year-olds.