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Manufacturing up, Suez Canal down, and a Women's History first

This week we have interesting updates on manufacturing and housing, plus info on the Suez Canal blockage and a forecast of U.S. and global growth this year.

Client Corner: You may remember a neat “cheat sheet” card of annual tax information we hand out at in-person meetings. You can now download a 2021 tax card with all the information you could ever wish for on our website here, and find it in your physical mailbox in a few weeks, along with the quarterly newsletter.

Good news in the United States: Initial Jobless Claims reached the lowest number this past week since the pandemic began. Continuing claims also hit a new milestone, falling below the 4 million mark for the first time since March 2020. (Daily Shot)

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A new vaccination target of 200 million people by this spring gives hope that an economic return to “normal” is possible by summer. The target represents 60% of the total population of the United States getting the vaccine before summer hits.

Manufacturing maintained its momentum in March due to continued high consumer demand, even despite supply-chain struggles and the surging cost of materials. You can see that we are at the strongest levels in decades. (Bloomberg)

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Home sellers have their pick of offers: Nearly 4 offers are received for every property sold right now— nearly double the usual number. New home sales declined because there aren’t many houses on the market right now despite plenty of people looking to buy.

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The Suez Canal is blocked by a giant container ship called the ‘Ever Given’ after strong winds and poor visibility shifted its course. The Suez Canal in Egypt is one of the busiest trade routes in the world. This disruption will affect multiple layers of the supply chain, including the number of containers for shipping as well as building supplies. Oil should be fine, though; global oil stockpiles are extremely elevated since travel demand dropped in the pandemic. Below is a picture of the mega ship, one of the largest in the world, blocking the canal. (CNBC)

Coronavirus across the globe: 

  • The United Kingdom has provided at least one dose to more than 40% of its population. 
  • The European Union has vaccinated about 12-14% of their population. European producers have exported about a third of their production globally, to countries such as Mexico, Canada, Chile, and the largest recipient, the UK. 
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is common overseas, is cheaper and more easily stored than the vaccines in the U.S., but the company badly missed its delivery targets this quarter. They delivered less than half of their original second-quarter forecast of 180 million doses. 
  • Italy now has the highest rate of daily deaths from Covid-19 in Europe, and only 20% of people over 80 have received both doses of the vaccine. Italy imposed a nearly national lockdown (again) on March 15.

Women are not just capable, but exceptional in financial roles. In honor of Women’s History Month, enjoy a timeline of women in investing over the last 250 years... and a vision for what the investment world can look like in the next few years with concentrated effort to expand the diversity in this field. 

Women currently comprise: 

  • 35% of investment advisors 
  • 23% of CFPs 
  • 19% of Chief Investment Officers at institutional investors 
  • 9% of mutual fund managers 
  • 8% of venture capital investment professionals 

Above: Sisters Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin became the first female stockbrokers in 1870 when they opened a brokerage firm on Wall Street and made “an immediate financial triumph.” (Rock the Street, Wall Street)