Weekly Economic Update: March 25, 2024

The Markets (as of market close March 22, 2024)

Despite a dip last Friday, stocks closed out last week higher. The S&P 500 recorded its biggest weekly percentage gain of the year, while the Dow and the Nasdaq hit record highs. Traders gained a bit of encouragement after the Federal Reserve maintained projections for three interest rate cuts by year’s end. Each of the market sectors moved higher last week, with communication services and industrials gaining. Both the dollar and gold prices advanced. Crude oil prices declined for the week, influenced by a rising dollar (since oil is priced in dollars, if the dollar goes up, oil prices generally go down, because you need fewer dollars to buy that oil).


Last Week’s Economic News

  • The Federal Open Market Committee maintained the target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25%-5.50%, as expected. The Fed retained its forecast for three rate cuts this year.
  • February saw sales of existing homes jump, although sales declined 3.3% year over year. Additional supply and consistent demand have helped drive sales throughout the country.
  • The number of residential building permits issued in February was above the January rate.
  • The national average retail price for regular gasoline was $3.453 per gallon on March 18, $0.077 per gallon more than the prior week’s price and $0.031 per gallon more than a year ago
  • For the week ended March 16, there were 210,000 new claims for unemployment insurance.


Eye on the Week Ahead

The last week of March brings with it the final estimate of gross domestic product for the fourth quarter of 2023. According to the second estimate, the economy accelerated at an annualized rate of 3.2%. Also, out this week is the February report on personal income and expenditures, which includes the personal consumption expenditures price index, the preferred inflation indicator of the Federal Reserve. With other indicators, such as the Consumer Price Index, showing that inflation rose in February, it is expected the PCE price index will also show in increase consumer prices.

Have a nice week!





Robert G. Carpenter

President & CEO
Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors