- U.S. retail sales were flat in April after surging in March
- The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.8% from the prior month and 4.2% over a one year period
- The national average price of gasoline climbed to $3.03 per gallon
Top Three Market Headlines
Retail Sales Unchanged in April: Sales at retail establishments unexpectedly stalled in April from the prior month, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. On the plus side, auto and parts sales increased 2.9%, while sales at restaurants and bars rose 3% as capacity restrictions are increasingly eased. Offsetting these gains, however, spending at stores that sell clothing, sporting goods, and furniture decreased. Although sales were unchanged on the month, the overall level of sales remained higher than before the pandemic, reflecting the overall positive trend in consumer spending.
Consumer Prices Jump in April: The U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose a greater-than-expected 0.8% in April from the prior month and 4.2% over a one-year period, the latter being the largest annual increase since 2008. Higher prices for used automobiles, which surged 10% on the month as a global chip shortage limited supplies of new autos, accounted for more than a third of the overall CPI’s monthly increase. Also, energy prices overall jumped 25% from a year earlier. While prices have risen, base effects (low prices at this time in 2020) have distorted year-over-year comparisons in the short term, partly a reason why the Federal Reserve believes the current increase in prices is transitory.
Colonial Pipeline Shutdown Drives Higher Gas Prices: A cyberattack caused the Colonial Pipeline, which carries gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined oil products to 14 states, to shut down operations on May 7. The stoppage strained gasoline supplies and spurred a run on gas stations along the East Coast. This drove gasoline prices to their highest level in more than six years: The national average price of gasoline ended the week at $3.03 per gallon, up more than seven cents from the time of the shutdown. By week’s end, Colonial Pipeline Co., operator of the pipeline, had resumed delivering fuel to all of its markets, though warned that it would take several days for product delivery to return to normal.