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The Markets This Week

March 4, 2015 | Weekly Commentary

U.S. stocks treaded water last week in quiet trading, sans the volatility that has characterized 2015 so far. The rest of the world’s equities, however, rocked ahead.

Though U.S. major indexes finished little changed, there was enough action to make yet another new high in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index Tuesday. Prices eventually fell back and trading was light.

Friday saw a revision of the U.S. fourth quarter gross domestic product growth rate down to 2.2% from 2.6%. Other economic reports released during the week were similarly mixed, notes Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets. The data wasn’t enough to push the indexes out of their recent range, he adds.

Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost seven points to 18,132.70, while the S&P 500 index fell six to 2104.50, after hitting a high of 2115.48 Tuesday. Both rose over 5% last month. The Nasdaq Composite gained eight points, or 0.2%, to 4963.53, and was up 7% in February.

As March begins, investors will have lots of data to parse, especially the February unemployment report Friday, adds Gaffney. After Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen spoke to Congress last week, the market appears to be moving its expectation of the first rate hike to later in the summer from the beginning.

Stock markets outside the U.S. were ebullient, and “pretty much every other market is beating the U.S.,” notes Michael Shaoul, chairman of Marketfield Asset Management. The MSCI World Index excluding the U.S. rose almost 1% last week. Year to date, that index has doubled the S&P 500’s 2.5% rise, even in dollar terms.

(Source: Barrons Online)

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