GameStop drama filled the week with an interesting (and entertaining if you are on the sidelines) story to follow over the week and volatility that rocketed to the moon with retail traders, largely focused on a Reddit message board vs. a few hedge funds and institutions. Over the week, the stock had multiple 50%+ drawdowns and intraday moves of 100% and more, with the stock peaking (so far) at nearly $470 on Thursday, up from under $20 just a few weeks ago. The unprecedented volatility forced some retail brokerages to halt new purchases of the stock and a few others as collateral requirements ballooned.
Fourth-quarter U.S. GDP growth disappointed estimates with a 4.0% annualized growth rate. Expectations were for a slightly higher 4.2% annualized figure and were weighed down by surging COVID cases through the end of the year. The fourth-quarter report follows the third quarter's robust growth that started to help the economy climb out of the recession. Despite missing expectations, the growth was still above longer-term averages from before COVID.
Driving the underwhelming report was slower consumer growth amid weak employment and jobless claims numbers and the lack of impacts from Federal stimulus measures passed at the end of the year.
The report's bright spots included both business and residential investment, expanding at a 13.8% and 33.5% pace, respectively. These expansionary figures put the cap on a tumultuous year, with the U.S. economy contracting 2.5% over 2020.
Following their January FOMC meeting, the Fed acted as expected by keeping rates and asset purchases steady. The Fed reiterated its commitment to asset purchases and lax policy until “substantial further progress” has been made in the recovery, and expectations are that they will remain accommodative throughout the year and beyond.