Weekly Market Report: April 1, 2024

Weekly Market Report: April 1, 2024


Most of the major indexes advanced over the shortened trading week to end a quarter of strong gains. The S&P 500 Index recorded new closing and intraday highs to end the week. The market’s advance was notably broad, with an equal-weighted version of the S&P 500 Index gaining 1.64%, well ahead of the 0.39% increase in the more familiar market-weighted version. Small-caps also easily outperformed large-caps, and the Russell 1000 Value Index gained 1.79%, in contrast with the 0.60% decline in its growth counterpart.

The week’s economic calendar was somewhat busier. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders rose 1.4% in February, somewhat more than expected, although part of the increase was due to a revision in January’s steep decline, from 6.2% to 6.9%. New home sales fell unexpectedly in February, but the report of the decline came in the wake of previous news of a jump in sales of existing homes.


Most European markets advanced in a week of generally light trading ahead of the Easter holiday weekend, with the STOXX Europe 600 Index reaching a record intraday high and gaining 0.59% in local currency terms. The markets’ gains came despite confirmation of a significant slowdown in some major economies.

European government bond yields declined. The European Central Bank has flagged a possible rate cut for June, depending on whether wage growth continues to moderate. With data showing eurozone bank lending stagnated again in February, ECB council member Fabio Panetta was the latest to flag a turn in the rate cycle.


Japan’s stock markets fell through Thursday’s trading. Investor focus was on the sharply depreciating yen, which hovered near JPY 152 against the U.S. dollar —which is perceived by many as a point that could trigger authorities to intervene in the foreign exchange markets to prop up the Japanese currency. The country’s three main monetary authorities suggested after meeting on Wednesday that they could be ready to stage such an intervention, in the strongest hint to date and after the currency dipped to a 34-year low. The historic weakness in the yen has benefited many of Japan’s large-cap exporters, as they derive a significant share of their earnings from overseas.

The yield on the 10-year Japanese government bond fell to about 0.70% on Thursday, from 0.74% at the end of the prior week. This followed the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ’s) historic monetary policy shift, whereby it raised interest rates from negative territory for the first time in about seven years. Market expectations appear to be converging around two more BoJ interest rate hikes within a one-year period.


Chinese stocks declined for the week ended Thursday as concerns about the continuing property sector downturn weighed on investor confidence. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 1.23%, while the blue chip CSI 300 gave up 0.68%. In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index edged up 0.25%.


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