Just in the past week, the bull went missing for a time, while the bear made an unexpected, short-lived appearance. By week’s end, however, both creatures appeared to be returning to their previous rightful places, with the bull back in sight on Friday and the bear nowhere to be seen.
On Long Island, a young bull broke through a fence on a farm on Tuesday and remained at large after being spotted walking across front yards before wandering out of sight into wooded areas, Newsday reported. Rescuers tried to attract the bull, nicknamed Barney, with grain (which is like ice cream to bovines, the report said) and a young cow in heat (no comment), but to no avail. By Friday, however, Barney had been spotted by a member of an animal rescue group, which plans to send him to an animal sanctuary—an improvement over his original intended destination: a plate with steak sauce.
An ursine creature, meanwhile, was spotted at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, site of the softball games at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Today reported. The three-foot high bear had yet to be found, according to local media. But bears are common in Japan, the report added, and while the Olympics will be played without spectators in the stands, officials said they would remain on the lookout for this one.
As for the stock market, the week started with the bears making a brief, snarling appearance, with the
suffering its worst day of 2021, dropping over 2% on Monday. At week’s end, however, the Dow ended above 35,000 for the first time, and the
also hit new marks, with the major averages gaining from 1.08% for the Dow to 2.84% for the Naz on the week.
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It was the bond market that started freeing the bears. The continued slide in Treasury yields suggested something seriously amiss with markets and the economy. The benchmark 10-year note’s yield dipped as low as 1.13% early in the week amid growing but belated recognition of the spreading Delta variant of Covid-19 and its potential impact. Cyclical stocks backed off in tandem with Treasury yields during the early-week selloff.
But by week’s end, the 10-year yield was back to 1.28%. That was little changed from the previous Friday, but still down sharply from its almost 1.75% peak in late March. And with bonds’ retracement, stocks rebounded, with the assistance of a positive early earnings season.
Helping to turn the stock market around was the irrepressible desire to buy the dips, according to a report from J.P. Morgan’s global quantitative and derivatives strategy team, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou. Retail investors purchased some $7 billion in equity exchange-traded funds on Monday and Tuesday, they estimated.
So far this year, the wall of money plowed into funds by individual investors is approaching $600 billion, which would represent a dramatic increase of $1 trillion over 2020 if the pace is maintained this year. At the same time, the supply of new equities is down by about $300 billion from the level a year ago, in part because of slowdown activity by special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Share buybacks also seem to be shrinking equity supplies.
In addition, the investment-grade and high-yield corporate credit markets weakened, along with equities, early in the week. But that scarcely slowed the continued heady pace of debt financing.
One particular beneficiary was
(ticker: CCL), which issued $2.4 billion of new 4% notes due in 2028. They will be used to buy 11.5% notes due in 2023 issued last year to tide the cruise line through the worst of the pandemic. The company said that refinancing the high-cost debt will save it $135 million a year in interest expense, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
In addition to vaccines allowing for a recovery in travel stocks, as this week’s cover story reports, the Federal Reserve has been instrumental in providing a lifeline to cruise companies and others in the form of huge injections of liquidity at historically low interest rates. The effectiveness of the monetary relief might still be tested by the new variants of Covid-19 spreading among the unvaccinated.
As for the wayward bull and elusive bear, they’re apt to turn up again.
Write to Randall W. Forsyth at email@example.com