After the Easter Weekend it’s time to get back to work. This week will see the bulk of the earnings reports come out plus Tesla will host its AI Day and roll out its new chip for autonomous driving. At the close of a low volume trading day the Dow was down 48 points to 26,511. Meanwhile the tech heavy NASDAQ reversed from early lows and closed higher.
Oil prices jumped today bringing the promise of more pain at the pump. Back in November 2018 the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Iran but since winter was upon us, they granted waivers to China, India, Japan, Italy, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey so they could continue buying Iranian oil until other suppliers could be found. That deadline ends May 2nd and today the White House said it will not extend the waivers. Oil majors Total and Royal Dutch Shell have already stopped buying Iranian oil for their refineries. WTI crude today was up $1.65 per barrel to $65.66 per barrel. The hope is that production from Saudi Arabia and Russia will rise and help fill the void and bring prices back down.
In economic data, retail sales came in 1.6% higher which is well above estimates and is another sign that a recession is not in the cards for this year. Housing starts fell 0.3% to the level seen during mid-2017.Existing home sales meanwhile fell 4.9% after a strong report in the prior month. The general takeaway from all these readings is that the housing market is modestly positive while the consumer is in good shape.