U.S. Equity Markets finished the week on a positive note, led by the NASDAQ 100, which closed with a gain of 1.06%. This move higher saw the VIX fall a huge 14%. Markets opened lower, before rising strongly. The growth outlook was the big story of the day after the Commerce Department’s Quarterly Services Survey indicated second-quarter economic activity was stronger than the preliminary reading of 6.5%. Equity market flows also got some attention, with Bank of America (BAC) reporting that U.S. equities saw their largest inflows ($12.8 billion) in nine weeks for the week ending August 18. BAC also made comments on positive earnings trends and corporate buybacks in its flow report. Even with Friday’s move higher, markets fell for the week due to ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant and falling U.S. Consumer Sentiment. European Markets also closed higher after a difficult week. Germany’s Producer Price Index (“PPI”) data for July was stronger than expected, rising versus June and hitting the highest level this year. European Central Bank (“ECB”) Chief Economist Philip Lane said the ECB should be flexible with its monetary policy tools to ensure inflation stabilizes at 2%. ECB Governing Council Member Ollie Rehn said the regional government should set state-by-state debt targets, allowing for more deficit spending. In Asia, China’s legislature passed the Personal Information Protection Law, meant to clamp down on Big Tech companies’ use of personal data and curb their influence. Japan’s consumer price index (“CPI”) data for July was stronger than expected, but remained in contraction territory for the 10th-straight month. South Korea’s PPI numbers for July rose versus June, hitting their highest level this year, as the cost for manufacturing products continued to accelerate. Taiwan’s export order figures for July were in line with expectations, as the rate of growth in shipments to China, Europe, and the U.S. slowed. Elsewhere, Oil fell 2.50%, extending its losing streak as investors continue to worry about the Delta variant’s impact on the demand outlook, while Bitcoin surged over 5% as Coinbase (COIN) said it would invest 10% of its profits in cryptocurrencies.
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