Review of Last Week
IT'S ALL GREEK TO WALL STREET... The stock market ended down after a volatile week whose off-putting news ranged from Greece to Washington to the Gulf of Mexico. Greek bonds were downgraded to junk, while Portugal and Spain got downgrades too. Goldman Sachs execs were grilled in Washington, then Friday came news of a federal criminal probe into the firm. Finally, energy stocks got hammered following a terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In spite of these unfortunate events, the economy continued to offer up signs of recovery. On Tuesday, following the Case-Shiller annual home price INCREASE reported above, we got a big boost in the Conference Board's consumer confidence number for April. The 57.9 reading put it at its highest level since August 2008. The week ended with a great Chicago PMI measure of Midwest manufacturing. Then Advanced Q1 GDP came in UP 3.2%, marking the third straight quarter of economic growth, with that all-important consumer spending UP 3.6%!
Things weren't too shabby on the corporate earnings front either. Of the 170 S&P 500 companies reporting Q1 results, 130 of them beat earnings-per-share estimates. Even better, 106 of these companies topped revenue expectations, showing that strong earnings performance didn't just come from belt-tightening.
For the week, the Dow ended down 1.7%, to 11008.61; the S&P 500 was down 2.5%, to 1186.69; and the Nasdaq was off 2.7%, to 2461.19.
Down-sliding stocks and off-putting news at home and abroad sent investors scurrying to bonds which sent prices up even after Friday's positive economic reads. The FNMA 30-year 4.5% bond we watch closed UP 75 basis points for the week, ending at $100.84. National average mortgage rates are holding steady, still at historically low levels, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey.
>> This Week's Forecast
INCOME, INFLATION, JOBS... A slight gain in Personal Income is expected today, along with a tick up in the PCE inflation measure. ISM Manufacturing and ISM Services numbers should show those sectors continuing to expand. Tuesday, March Pending Home Sales will be interesting, as we'll see if lots of people signed contracts to get in on the tax credit. The week's biggie is Friday's April Employment Report. Jobs should continue to be added at a modest pace, although the monthly increase in workforce will probably keep the Unemployment Rate level.