The week on Wall St.
Stocks spent last week digesting the sharp gains of previous weeks as investors assessed a tightening yield curve, the war in Ukraine, and an uncertain outlook for economic growth and inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.12%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 was flat (+0.06%). The Nasdaq Composite index led, picking up 0.65% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, rose 1.02%.1,2,3
Stock prices bounced around following strong gains in two previous weeks as money managers appeared to reposition their portfolios ahead of the first-quarter close. Oil was under pressure all week as prices fell on news that Shanghai imposed a strict lockdown due to COVID infections. President Biden announced a sustained release of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve.
Bond yields reversed their recent climb. The flattening in the yield curve triggered some concerns about economic growth and the possibility of a recession.
With economic growth worries overhanging the market, last week’s employment reports showed continued strong demand for workers. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported the number of open positions remained near record highs, with job openings exceeding the number of available workers by a record five million. Afterward, the Automated Data Processing employment report saw private payrolls grow by 455,000 in March, slightly above consensus expectations.4,5
Finally, the government’s monthly jobs report showed that employers added 431,000 jobs in March, lowering the unemployment rate to 3.6%. That’s approaching the 50-year low of 3.5% reached in February 2020.6
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