- Markets in Japan have become extremely volatile with several wild trading sessions in the last few weeks. The result is a Nikkei Index level that was down 5.7% this week and is 11.8% lower than its high level achieved in the middle of last week. Causes that have been cited include fears about the end of the Fed’s QE program, a strengthening of the Yen and the market undergoing a correction after the enormous gains it’s had over the last six months.
- Stock markets fell this week, incurring all of the losses in the last 20 minutes of Friday’s session (last day of the month). The S&P 500 Index fell 1.1%, closing at 1,631. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.2% to close at 15,115. After this week’s dip, the S&P and the Dow are respectively up 14.3% and 15.4% year to date.
- Treasury yields continued to drift higher again this week on speculation that the Federal Reserve will taper their asset purchases in coming months, as the 5 year and 10 year treasury finished the week at 1.03% and 2.14% respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil dropped this week, falling by 2.5%, closing at $91.72 per barrel. On the year, oil prices are down 2.1%.
- The spot price of Gold was relatively unchanged for the week, closing at $1388.08/ounce. Gold remains down 17.3% for the year.
- Weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose this week as claims increased by 14,000 and came in higher than expected at 354,000 vs. consensus expectations of 340,000. The 4-week moving average of jobless claims moved up to 347,000.
- Eurozone unemployment hit a new high this month as 19.4 million are without jobs and the unemployment rate moved up to 12.2% in April, up from 12.1% a month prior.
- The Case-Shiller home price index rose by 1.1% in March which was better than expected, showing continuing improvement in the housing market. The index is now up 10.9% on a year over year basis, the strongest one year gain since April 2006.
- Other data in housing shows that sales of residential properties in foreclosure dropped 22% year over year at the end of the 1st quarter. Foreclosure transactions accounted for 21% of all home sales, down from 25% a year earlier and a peak of 45% in the 1st quarter of 2009. However, there is still work to be done to work through these properties as these levels are still well above an average of 5% of sales in 2006.
- Consumer sentiment continues to improve as the latest University of Michigan report came in higher than expected and at a post-crisis high. The Conference Board’s measure of consumer sentiment also came in better than anticipated at multi-year highs.
Fact of the Week
- Back in 1950, there were 16 American workers for every 1 Social Security retiree receiving benefits. It is estimated that by 2035, there will be just 2 American workers for every 1 Social Security retiree receiving benefits.
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