The major US benchmarks finished mixed for the week.

Investors seemed divided about whether the rise in longer-term bond yields was due to an upswing in growth expectations or a troublesome rise in inflationary pressures. On Monday, the federal government began distributing the J&J single-dose vaccine, and President Biden revealed that new deals with drugmakers meant that every American adult should have access to vaccines by the end of May. Fed Chairman Powell reiterated his intention to keep easy-money policies in place but provided no sign the central bank will seek to stem a recent rise in Treasury yields, prompting them to rise further.

On the economic front, hiring jumped in February as U.S. economic activity picked up with Covid-19 cases gradually dropping and vaccine rollouts providing hope for more growth. Nonfarm payrolls soared by 379,000 (vs expectations of 210,000 new jobs) and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2% (vs forecast of 6.3%). Nearly all the gains came in the leisure and hospitality industry, especially restaurants, reflecting reopening steps in many parts of the country.

A key takeaway from last week, is the stream of new information released confirming the gap between the U.S. and Europe is widening. While manufacturing PMIs picked up in both US and Europe (57.9 in Eurozone and 58.6 in U.S.), composite indices revealed serious discrepancies.

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