U.S. and World News
- Voters in France will head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new President, selecting either Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen. The two candidates have been campaigning tirelessly since the first round of the election led to their selection in the run-off. In order to try to gain more broad appeal, the typically anti-EU Le Pen has eased off of her stance that if elected she would push for France’s exit from the European Union. Despite these efforts, Macron currently holds a sizable lead in the polling figures and is viewed as the more ‘status-quo’ candidate.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act by a slim 217-213 margin this week. “Make no mistake: This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare,” President Trump said after the bill’s passage. The legislation now faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where several Republican members have already signaled it could see major revisions. Reports also suggest that the Senate may write its own version of a bill.
- The Federal Reserve held a policy meeting this week and held interest rates at their current levels as was the expectation in the market. The post-meeting statement acknowledged but downplayed the weak 1st quarter GDP growth, stating that it was likely ‘transitory,’ maintaining expectations of a June rate hike. The market is currently pricing in a nearly 100% probability that the Fed Funds Rate will be increased at the next meeting.
- Markets continued to climb higher this week as economic data came in strong and international risks appeared to ease. The S&P 500 rose 0.66% and closed at a New All-Time High of 2,399. The Dow Jones gained 0.33% for the week and closed at 21,007. Year to date, the S&P is up 7.84% and the Dow is up 7.04%.
- Interest rates moved modestly higher this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.88% and 2.35%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil dropped 5.68% this week, closing at $46.53 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 13.38%.
- The spot price of Gold declined 3.12% this week, closing at $1,228.70 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 7.08%.
- Initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 from last week, coming in at 238,000. The drop appears to be a reversal from the effects of the Easter and spring break holidays that elevated the figures last week. The four week moving average for claims ticked up to 243,000.
- The April jobs report showed an increase of 211,000 jobs during the month, beating consensus expectations of 190,000. This was a large improvement from the March report that showed only 79,000 jobs being created. The prior two months’ figures were revised down a combined 6,000 jobs, bringing the three month average job gains to 174,000 per month.
- The headline unemployment rate moved down to 4.4% in the report, beating expectations of 4.6% and matching the lows achieved during the previous cycle (2006-2007). The labor force participation rate did fall -0.1% to 62.9%.
- Average hourly earnings rose by 0.3% in April, in line with expectations. Over the last year, wages have increased by 2.5%.
Fact of the Week
- Sell in May? – In analyzing the returns of the S&P 500 since 1990, the six month period from November through April has beaten the six month period from May through October in 18 of 27 years. The November through April periods have seen a total return of 636% in the S&P during that time vs. a 73% gain for the May through October periods. (Source: BTN Research)
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