In a notable shift for 2024, the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and Dow each notched a weekly total return of 2% or more, marking their first such collective surge for the year. This consistent advancement propelled all three indices to record highs, reversing the slight declines of the preceding two weeks.

Despite mixed recent strides in tackling inflation, a majority of U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers adhered to their earlier projections of approving three interest-rate cuts by year-end. Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that the timing of the first potential cut hinges on the Fed’s confidence in sustained inflationary decline toward its 2% target.

The stock market’s upward trajectory gained momentum early in the week, particularly after the Fed’s policy announcement on Wednesday, which spurred the major indices to post their most substantial gains. Thursday saw another positive session, culminating in record closing highs for the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and Dow.

Japan’s central bank enacted its first interest rate hike since 2007, nudging rates slightly above zero on Tuesday. This marked a departure from the unconventional economic stimulus policy that had maintained rates just below zero since 2016. Despite this shift, Japan’s rates remain considerably lower than those of other major developed economies.

With mortgage rates experiencing a slight retreat from their historically high levels, U.S. existing home sales in February saw the most significant monthly surge in a year. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales leaped 9.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million.

Reflecting diminished short-term volatility expectations in the U.S. stock market, an index tracking investor sentiment dipped to its lowest level in over six weeks. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, declined approximately 9% for the week, marking an 18% drop from its recent intraday peak on March 11.

Share buybacks by U.S. companies in the fourth quarter of 2023 surged significantly compared to the previous quarter, totaling around $219 billion, an 18% increase from $186 billion. However, despite this quarterly surge, full-year 2023 buybacks fell nearly 14% short of 2022’s total.

The upcoming release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index on Friday holds the potential to provide clarity on recent uncertainties regarding inflation trends. As the U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred metric for gauging inflation, this index showed a January increase at the slowest pace since March 2021, though subsequent inflation-related reports have hinted at figures slightly above expectations.

Major U.S. Economic Reports

Home builder confidence indexFeb.5148
Housing startsFeb.1.52 million1.37 million
Building permitsFeb.1.52 million1.49 million
Initial jobless claimsMarch 15210,000212,000
Philadelphia Fed manufacturing surveyMarch-3.25.2
S&P flash U.S. services PMIMarch51.752.3
S&P flash U.S. manufacturing PMIMarch52.552.2
U.S. leading economic indicatorsFeb.0.1%-0.4%
Existing home salesFeb.4.38 million4.0 million

Closing Prices for the Week

Dow Jones Industrials Average39,475.90
Nasdaq Composite16,428.82
S&P 500 Index5,234.18
CBOE Volatility Index13.06
S&P GSCI574.43
U.S. Dollar Index104.430
10-Year T-Note (Jun ’24)110-240
Crude Oil WTI (May ’24)80.63
Natural Gas (May ’24)1.812
Gold (Apr ’24)2,160.0
Silver (May ’24)24.843
Corn (May ’24)439-2
Wheat (May ’24)554-6
Soybean (May ’24)1192-4
Coffee (May ’24)184.85
Sugar #11 (May ’24)21.85

Trading futures and forex involves significant risk of loss and is not suitable for everyone.

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Besides strengthening and standardizing user data privacy across the EU nations, GDPR imposes new or additional obligations on all organizations that handle EU citizens’ personal data, regardless of where the organizations themselves are located.


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