What I’m Watching This Week – 27 May 2014

The Markets

After spending weeks bouncing around just under 1,900, the S&P 500 finally managed to top it on Friday, setting a new record closing high in the process. And after a lot of back and forth at the beginning of the week, the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 small caps rebounded strongly from their travails of recent weeks, though the small caps are still down for the year.

Market/Index 2013 Close Prior Week As of 5/23 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 16576.66 16491.31 16606.27 .70% .18%
Nasdaq 4176.59 4090.59 4185.81 2.33% .22%
S&P 500 1848.36 1877.86 1900.53 1.21% 2.82%
Russell 2000 1163.64 1102.91 1126.19 2.11% -3.22%
Global Dow 2484.10 2533.44 2550.46 .67% 2.67%
Fed. Funds .25% .25% .25% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 3.04% 2.52% 2.54% 2 bps -50 bps

Last Week’s Headlines

  • Discussion among members of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee has begun to turn to how best to manage the impact of the end of supportive economic measures, whenever that seems appropriate. According to minutes of the committee’s most recent meeting, the state of the labor market was a major point of debate and will continue to play a major role in Fed policy.
  • As more homeowners put their houses on the market in April, sales of existing homes rose 1.3% over the course of the month. It was the first monthly increase this year, but the National Association of Realtors® said that still left home resales 6.8% lower than the previous April.
  • New home sales also jumped in April; the Commerce Department said they were up 6.4% for the month, though that was 4.2% below April 2013.
  • Parties campaigning on anti-European Union themes gained ground in the EU’s parliamentary elections over the weekend. However, a majority of seats are still held by mainstream parties, so financial assistance programs for weaker members shouldn’t see any immediate disruption.
  • Credit Suisse agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle federal charges that for decades it had helped Americans avoid taxes by concealing assets in undeclared bank accounts. The Swiss bank also pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of conspiracy.
  • China’s manufacturing sector was on the brink of expansion in May, according to the Markit Purchasing Managers Index. The reading on the monthly survey hit a four-month high of 49.7% (a reading of 50% indicates expansion). China also gave Russia some relief from Western economic sanctions by signing a $400 billion agreement to purchase gas from Russia’s leading supplier.
  • A Pennsylvania federal grand jury charged five members of a Chinese military unit with stealing industrial secrets by hacking computers at six U.S. enterprises in the nuclear, solar, and metals industries. The indictment is said to be the first involving a governmental body rather than an individual corporation.

Eye on the Week Ahead

During the holiday-shortened week, investors will assess the results of the EU elections. They also will get a second look at Q1 economic growth and a smattering of manufacturing, housing, and consumer data.