Economic activity boomed to start 2021, as widespread vaccinations and more fuel from government spending helped get the U.S. closer to where it was before the pandemic struck. Gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced in the U.S. economy, jumped 6.4% for the first three months of the year on an annualized basis. Outside of the reopening-fueled third-quarter surge last year, it was the best period for GDP since the third quarter of 2003.
As expected, the U.S. central bank decided to keep short-term interest rates anchored near zero as they continue to buy at least $120 billion of bonds each month. The latter part of policy is a two-pronged effort to support an economy that grew strongly to start 2021 as well as to support market functioning at a time when 30-year mortgages still go for around 3%. Despite noting the economic strength as well as inflation that is on the rise, the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee unanimously decided to make no changes in its approach and gave no indications that things will change anytime soon.
Apple reported another blowout quarter for earnings, announcing companywide sales up 54% over last year, and significantly stronger profits than Wall Street expected.
Ford beat Wall Street’s expectations for the first quarter and raised their earnings guidance for the year despite an ongoing global chip shortage depleting vehicle inventories and causing the company to shutter some of their factories.