First quarter earnings season kicked into high gear this week and investors were treated to a smorgasbord of blue-chip results across a range of industries. As they typically do, numbers for most companies have exceeded Wall Street expectations, but with almost 20 percent of the S&P 500 now having reported, the .75:1 ratio of “beats” is modestly better than where it has been over the last several quarters.
For the shortened holiday week, equity markets were down by almost 1 percent as investors followed events in Russia and North Korea. Interest rates were lower with the 10-year Treasury declining in yield from 2.36 to 2.22 percent.
Equity markets were relatively flat on the week as economic data was weighed against global events. Interest rates continued their slow trend downward with the 10-year U.S. Treasury finishing the week at a 2.32 percent yield.
Most markets, international stocks and the U.S. Dollar ended the week near where they started. Stocks are quietly ending a strong first quarter, with this week leaving the S&P 500 up a little over 1 percent and the Dow Jones up about 0.5 percent.
Stocks sold off this week as Congress debated the replacement bill for Obamacare. The S&P 500 was down a little over 1 percent over the past five sessions. Bonds rallied on stock weakness with the 10-year Treasury finishing the week at a 2.40 percent yield.
As traders were nursing their wounds from early bracket pains, the market saw that U.S. stocks were muted this week, up 0.2 percent. Investors’ reactions to finally getting the anticipated Fed rate hike were tempered by oil production figures from OPEC, causing concern early in the week.
This week, investors recognized the 8-year anniversary of a bull market that is now second only in length to the tech-fueled run of the 1990s. In March, blue chip stocks consolidated a small portion of recent gains, but nevertheless, the S&P 500 has now returned over 250 percent since the bear market lows in March of 2009.