Market Recap – April 2015
Investors seemed to take their emotional cue from a spate of mixed earnings results and economic data, waffling between enthusiasm and caution throughout the month. The Nasdaq finally recouped the losses it incurred during the technology crash 15 years ago, hitting a new record high during the third week of April. It then gave up much of that ground to end the month less than 1% higher than where it started. The S&P 500 and Russell 2000 indexes also managed to hit new highs, only to retreat again, posting a modest gain of 0.85% and a loss of 2.61%, respectively. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose past the 2% mark.
Internationally, investors kept a keen eye on Greece and its ongoing discussions with creditors, as speculation continued about the country's ability to repay its debts. Despite this uncertainty, April seemed to favor global stocks, which surged 3.30%.
Oil prices reached new highs for the year towards month's end, with U.S. crude closing April at about $60/barrel. Gold closed the month virtually unchanged from March, at $1,183 an ounce. The dollar posted its worst monthly loss in four years, losing approximately 3.7% against a basket of six other currencies.
- The Nasdaq broke its 15-year-old record set in March 2000, reaching a high of 5092.08 on April 24. The S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 also hit new highs during the month.
- Gross domestic product rose at just 0.2% during the first quarter of 2015, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis's (BEA) advance estimate. That compares with a 2.2% rise in Q4 2014. Observers noted several factors that could have been at play during the winter months, including challenging weather, a strengthening dollar, disruptions in West Coast port operations, and lower oil prices.
- In its April meeting announcement, the Federal Open Market Committee suggested that the first quarter's slower growth was due in part to "transitory factors," such as the ones noted above. The committee also said that, with "appropriate policy accommodation," it expects growth to expand at a moderate pace. Noting its mandate to "foster maximum employment and price stability," the Fed reiterated its position that the current target interest rate range of 0 to 0.25% is appropriate.
- Despite the fact that job openings reached their highest level in 14 years in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Good Friday (April 3) brought the unwelcome news that the U.S. economy added just 126,000 jobs in March, the weakest monthly gain since December 2013. Fortunately the markets were closed that day, and the news didn't have a major impact on stock performance during the following week.
The Month Ahead
In the coming weeks, investors will likely keep a close eye on Europe to see if Greece's new negotiators are able to make any real progress. In addition, economic data will be closely monitored to see if factors that affected the economy during the winter months were indeed "transitory."
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. Market indexes listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.
Portions of this market recap were provided by Forefield Financial Communications.
The performance quoted represents past performance, which does not guarantee future results. This summary represents the views of the portfolio manager as of April 30, 2015. Those views may change, and the Funds disclaim any obligation to advise investors of such changes. The Azzad Funds are self-distributed and available by prospectus only. A free copy of the prospectus, which contains information about the Funds’ risks, fees, and objectives, and other important information, is available at www.azzadfunds.com or by calling 888.350.3369. 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 Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2000 U.S. small-cap common stocks measuring the performance of those Russell mid-cap companies with higher price-to-book ratios and higher forecasted growth values. The stocks are also members of the Russell 1000 Growth index. The Dow Jones Sukuk Index is designed to track the performance of global Islamic fixed-income securities, also known as Sukuk. The index includes U.S. dollar-denominated, investment-grade Sukuk that have been screened for Shari’ah compliance.