- Retail sales rebounded in January, rising 3.8% versus December
- The number of building permits issued in January hit 1.90 million, a 15-year high
- The price of Brent Crude Oil surpassed $100 a barrel last week for the first time since 2014
Top Three Market Headlines
Retail Sales Rebound in January: Sales at retail and food service establishments rose 3.8% in January versus December, the strongest monthly increase since March of 2021. Automobiles, furniture, and internet retailers saw the strongest gains. The January result represented a strong rebound from the 2.5% drop seen in December, when sales were believed to have been impacted by the spread of the Omicron variant and consumers having pulled forward holiday shopping into November. Worth noting, however, is that the reported retail sales data are not adjusted for inflation; thus, a portion of January's rise likely reflected the recent trend of rising consumer prices.
U.S. Housing Market Strength Persists: Data released last week indicated the U.S. housing market remained strong in January, notwithstanding rising mortgage rates and supply chain woes. Existing home sales rose 6.7% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted 6.50 million units, the highest level in 12 months. In terms of new housing construction, the number of housing starts slipped modestly in January from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.64 million units, but the number of building permits issued for new housing units, an indicator of future construction activity, hit 1.90 million (seasonally adjusted), the highest level in more than 15 years.
Brent Crude Oil Surges to Highest Price Since 2014: The price of Brent crude oil, commonly viewed as the standard global oil price benchmark, briefly surpassed $100 at one point last week for the first time since September of 2014. After rallying more than 50% in 2021, the price of Brent crude has jumped another 20% year-to-date in 2021. Increased consumption stemming from the continued global economic recovery has been a key driver of the rally, along with production shortfalls from OPEC and Russia.