After months of relative calm, market fluctuations are causing many investors to wonder what is happening to the economy. Last week, the S&P 500 lost 5.16%, the Dow dropped 5.21%, and the NASDAQ declined 5.06%. The MSCI EAFE also gave back 6.19%. These losses pushed all four indexes into negative territory for the year. In addition, the weekly performance included significant volatility, as stocks had large fluctuations both within days and from one day to the next. The Dow, for example, lost over 1,000 points twice during the week—and also twice gained over 300 points.
During times like these, viewing events in their proper context is imperative. This week, we are going beyond our typical market update in an effort to provide you with clarity and perspective.
After 4 straight weeks of gains, the markets have slipped. As of Friday, the S&P 500 lost 3.85%, the Dow dropped 4.12%, and the NASDAQ decreased by 3.53%.[i] International stocks in the MSCI EAFE also took a 2.78% hit.[ii] Domestically, the losses spanned sectors and asset classes. For the S&P 500, all 11 of the index’s industries lost ground last week. This decline came after the S&P 500 had its best January performance in over 20 years.[iii]
So, what happened?
Stocks had an impressive week yet again, as each of the domestic indexes reached record highs and gained at least 2%. The S&P 500 added 2.23%, the Dow increased 2.09%, and the NASDAQ grew 2.31%. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined the growth, adding 1.49%.
On Monday, January 22, the government shutdown ended after 3 days, as House and Senate members reached an initial compromise. President Trump signed the measure on Monday evening, securing government funding until February 8.
We’re only a few weeks into 2018, and stocks are showing quite a strong performance so far. Last week, major domestic indexes posted gains yet again, with all 3 up at least 5% this year. By Friday, the S&P 500 had added another 0.86%, and both the Dow and NASDAQ were up 1.04%. All 3 indexes hit new record highs at least once during the week.
In addition to the solid performance for U.S. equities, we’re also experiencing synchronized global growth. European and Asian stocks grew last week, and China’s growth data was more positive than expected. Overall, international stocks in the MSCI EAFE added a healthy 1.24% last week. Year to date, the MSCI is up 4.95%.
Domestic markets continued their strong start to 2018, posting gains across the board for their 2nd week. The S&P 500 added 1.57% and closed at a new record high on Friday. The index just posted its best 10-day beginning to a year since 2003, with a 4.2% gain so far this year. The Dow also hit a new record on Friday and gained 2.01% for the week. The NASDAQ increased by 1.74%, while international stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined last week’s gains, adding 1.20%.
By week’s end, we didn’t receive a tremendous amount of economic data. However, the economy did provide details that reveal it continues to pick up speed. In particular, both corporate earnings and inflation appear to be on the rise.