April was marked by the impending tariff war between the United States and China. Tensions between the world’s two largest economies certainly affected stocks both home and abroad. Escalating strife in Syria posed an additional reason for investors to be concerned. However, surging energy stocks lifted the market as crude oil prices approached $70 per barrel for the first time in almost three years. Talks between North and South Korea also helped ease investor tensions. By the close of April, the dollar reached its highest level since January, while yields on 10-year Treasuries approached 3.0% for the first time since 2014 — signs that the world views U.S. economic growth as on the rise.
With all of the upheaval during the month — both positive and negative — it’s no wonder that equities essentially closed April about where they began the month. Each of the major benchmark indexes posted meager positive monthly gains over their March closing values. The Global Dow enjoyed the best month, as the only index to post a gain of over 1.0%. The Russell 2000 gained a little less than 1.0%, while the large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 crept up about 0.25% each. The Nasdaq posted the smallest gain; however it leads the year-to-date race by a telling margin.
May could see more market volatility as the political climate, both at home and abroad, drives investor behavior. The month starts off with the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Another interest rate hike could add to investor uneasiness, although such a move by the Committee would be a sign of continued economic strengthening.
Source: Forefield Financial Communications.
Notes: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indexes listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.