While the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 16.21 points, or 0.1%, on the week, to end Friday at 26,543.33, the other two marquee indexes set records on Tuesday and then again Friday. The Dow was brought down to some extent with a large drop in the shares of 3M and to some degree Intel. The S&P 500 rose 1.2% for the week and finished at 2,939.88. The Nasdaq Composite gained 1.9%, ending at 8,146.40. Health care stocks rebounded and rose about 3.8% for the week. Most technology, financial and consumer names were also in positive territory. Telecom stocks, however, were the laggards, giving back some 3%. Oil prices softened this past week as West Texas crude fell $1.11/bbl. settling at $63.30 and bringing energy stocks down along with it.
GDP rose at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first quarter, up from 2.2% in the fourth quarter. That GDP number benefited from import and export flows that can change course, but it was a better gain than expected by most people outside the White House. Consumers are still spending. Retail sales in March showed a 1.6% surge and nearly twice the anticipated gain. The sales pickup was fueled by higher spending on motor vehicles and parts, furniture and home furnishings and clothing and accessories. Restaurant spending was also positive. At the same time, the Conference Board’s leading indicators are suggesting increasing economic strength ahead, with a sizable rebound in March following essentially unchanged readings in January and February.
I believe the Wall Street backdrop remains sufficiently supportive for investors to maintain a high level of equity participation, especially in quality issues, with growing dividends and competitive yields.
Here is the answer to last week’s trivia question: What company is the largest steel producer in North America? United States Steel, Worthington Industries, Nucor or Reliance Steel. Answer: Nucor leads the pack in both sales and production.
Today’s Trivia Question: The official freight carrier of Major League Baseball is? Old Dominion Freight, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, FedEx Ground or Knight-Swift Transportation.