Stocks rallied last week on receding fears of a widening banking crisis, led by resurging investor interest in technology and communication services names. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 3.22%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 3.48%. The Nasdaq Composite index rose 3.37% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, advanced by 3.34%.1,2,3
An absence of further bad news in the banking sector made for a good week, with high-quality technology and communication services stocks leading the market. While easing banking worries laid the groundwork for the week’s positive gains, growing conviction that Fed rate hikes were ending and positive inflation data out of Europe helped support the renewed enthusiasm for stocks. Encouraging inflation data on the domestic front on Friday also added to the gathering optimism, igniting further gains to cap a satisfying week for investors.
In an otherwise news-light week, Friday saw the release of February’s personal income and outlays report, which provides insight into inflation and consumer expenditures, the dominant contributor to economic growth. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE), the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, rose 0.3% for the month, below market expectations and below the prior month’s 0.6% jump. The year-over-year increase of 5.0% improved from January’s rise of 5.3%. Energy prices declined, partially offsetting increases in food, goods, and services. Personal income rose 0.3%, while consumer spending increased 0.2%.4
1. The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2023, 2. The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2023, 3. The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2023, 4. CNBC, March 31, 2023