Capital Market Implications for the Week of March 13 - 17, 2017
Once again, last week’s economic releases indicated recent economic trends remained intact. Throughout the month of February, the U.S. industrial complex continued to recover and the economic sectors of housing and labor were vibrant. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index reached its highest level in more than a decade in March, and while housing starts in February were healthy, building permits were negative after having been positive in January. Also in February, labor markets remained strong and inflation gauges such as the Consumer Price and Producer Price Indexes climbed, up 2.2 and 1.5 percent, respectively. Finally, industrial production improved and leading economic indicators – those indicators that are meant to forecast economic activity for the next six months – increased 0.6 percent in February.
Last week, with the Federal Open Market Committee increasing short term interest rates for the second time in ten years, stocks had a mixed performance. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week relatively flat while the S&P 500 Index gained 0.3 percent. The week’s best performing equity sector was real estate, which increased 1.9 percent. And, ironically, another interest-rate sensitive sector, banks, declined -0.9 percent, making it the week’s poorest performing sector. International stocks, as represented by the MSCI EAFE Index, had a strong showing, as they climbed 2.1 percent. And, although short-term interest rates rose, longer dated rates declined and thus bond prices ended the week in positive territory. For the week overall, the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index rose 0.5 percent and U.S. corporate bonds increased 0.6 percent while both ten-year municipal bonds and high yield bonds gained 0.2 percent.
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