The Markets (as of market close April 20, 2018)
Favorable first-quarter earnings reports helped push stocks higher for the second consecutive week. Led by the small caps of the Russell 2000, each of the major benchmark indexes posted gains by the end of last week. The energy sector continued to post strong returns, boosted by rising crude oil prices, which are approaching $70 per barrel. Treasury yields climbed as prices fell following a sell-off of Treasury bonds.
LAST WEEK’S ECONOMIC HEADLINES
- Sales at the retail level grew in March from the previous month.
- New residential construction enjoyed a favorable March as building permits and housing starts surged.
- Industrial production rose in March after increasing as well in February, mostly as a result of gains in oil and gas extraction and in support activities for mining.
- In the week ended April 14, there were 232,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s level.
EYE ON THE WEEK AHEAD
Another indicator of inflationary trends is the retail sales report, which is out this week. In February, retail sales fell 0.1% due, primarily, to a drop in auto sales. However, motor vehicle sales are expected to show improvement in March, and sales overall are expected to increase as well.