In a week shortened by Good Friday, both the S&P 500 and the Dow achieved record-high closing levels before a Friday report on inflation. While the S&P 500 and the Dow posted marginal weekly gains, the NASDAQ experienced a slight dip.

March marked the fifth consecutive month of positive performance for major U.S. stock indexes, with the S&P 500 achieving its most robust first-quarter result since 2019. The index surged by 10.2% for the quarter, while the NASDAQ and the Dow saw gains of 9.1% and 5.6%, respectively. Notably, over the span of five months, the S&P 500 has soared by 25.3%.

Friday’s report from the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated a notable slowdown in consumer price increases compared to previous months. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index reflected a 2.8% annual rise in February, excluding food and energy prices, maintaining the same rate as the prior month, which marked the slowest increase since March 2021.

An uptick in consumer spending prompted a revision in the final estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth, with GDP expanding at a 3.4% annual rate, up from the initial estimate of 3.2%. This marked the sixth consecutive quarter in which the annual growth rate exceeded 2.0%.

On Wednesday, Japan’s currency plummeted to its lowest value against the U.S. dollar since 1990, amidst deliberations by Japan’s government and central bank on measures to bolster the currency amid domestic inflationary pressures.

Gold and oil experienced robust weekly gains, continuing a streak of strong performance. Gold spot prices reached approximately $2,230 per ounce, hitting a record high, while U.S. crude oil traded at around $83 per barrel, up from roughly $81 the previous week and $71 at the beginning of 2024.

Analysts hold modestly positive expectations as earnings season approaches in mid-April, with major banks set to report first-quarter results. Surveyed by FactSet, analysts anticipate S&P 500 companies to report an average earnings increase of 3.6% compared to the same period last year, potentially marking the third consecutive quarter of year-over-year earnings growth.

The upcoming monthly labor market report will reveal whether the trend of stronger-than-anticipated job numbers persisted into March. In February, the economy added 275,000 new jobs, surpassing the roughly 200,000 jobs most economists had predicted. However, the unemployment rate edged up to 3.9%, while wage growth slowed.

Major U.S. Economic Reports

New home salesFeb.662,000664,000
Durable-goods ordersFeb.1.4%-6.9%
Durable-goods minus transportationFeb.0.5%-0.3%
S&P Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities)Jan.6.6%6.1%
Consumer confidenceMarch104.7104.8
Initial jobless claimsMarch 23210,000212,000
GDP (2nd revision)Q43.4%3.2%
Chicago Business Barometer (PMI)March41.444.0
Pending home salesFeb.1.6%-4.9%
Consumer sentiment (final)March79.476.5
Advanced U.S. trade balance in goodsFeb.$91.8B-$90.5B
Advanced retail inventoriesFeb.0.5%0.5%
Advanced wholesale inventoriesFeb.0.5%-0.2%
Personal income (nominal)Feb.0.3%1.0%
Personal spending (nominal)Feb.0.8%0.2%
PCE indexFeb.0.3%0.4%
PCE (year-over-year)2.5%2.4%
Core PCE indexFeb.0.3%0.5%
Core PCE (year-over-year)2.8%2.9%

Closing Prices for the Week

Dow Jones Industrials Average39,807.37
Nasdaq Composite16,379.46
S&P 500 Index5,254.35
CBOE Volatility Index13.01
S&P GSCI582.47
U.S. Dollar Index104.487
10-Year T-Note (Jun ’24)110-255
Crude Oil WTI (May ’24)83.17
Natural Gas (May ’24)1.763
Gold (Jun ’24)2,238.4
Silver (May ’24)24.916
Corn (May ’24)442-0
Wheat (May ’24)560-2
Soybean (May ’24)1191-4
Coffee (May ’24)188.85
Sugar #11 (May ’24)22.52

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

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