What I’m Watching This Week – 14 April 2014

The Markets

The wave of tech and biotech selling that has taken the Nasdaq down more than 8% in just over a month spread to the large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 last week. However, the S&P is still only 4% away from the record close it hit less than two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the profit-taking in stocks sent the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield down as demand pushed prices up.

Last Weeks’s Headlines

  • Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent monetary policy meeting showed most committee members favor expanding the amount of detailed guidance about interest rates after rates begin to rise. The minutes also showed a general consensus that an increase isn’t likely for some time.
  • Exports from China were down 6.6% in March from a year earlier and imports were down more than 11% over the same time, raising concerns about the implications for the global economy. The customs data followed reports that the World Bank’s forecast for Chinese growth this year had been cut slightly to 7.6%, while Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the economy might not reach its official targeted 7.5% growth rate.
  • The International Monetary Fund’s semiannual report on its world economic outlook said global recovery is becoming stronger and broader. However, continuing problems in some emerging markets, notably Brazil and Russia, caused the IMF to cut its global growth rate forecast slightly to 3.6% for 2014 and 3.9% for next year. The 2.8% growth rate the IMF projects for the United States this year was unchanged from its January forecast.
  • Wholesale prices jumped 0.5% in March; the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the increase could be attributed largely to the cost of services, which rose 0.7%.

Eye on the Week Ahead

As Q1 earnings season gets under way, forward guidance is likely to be just as significant as assessments of how earnings were affected by the weather; as economic data begin to reflect spring, a general failure to show improvement from winter’s numbers could be badly received by investors. Also, Wednesday will see the release of China’s Q1 GDP figures, which will be closely watched in light of last week’s signs of slowing trade.