Blog Post

Stocks saw a strong rally on Monday due in part to a number of mergers in the health care sector. Stocks gave back gains on Tuesday with profit taking and on Wednesday due to some weak economic data. Stocks were higher on Thursday after a good first time claims for unemployment number was released and the nuclear deal with Iran was announced. In total US stocks were little changed for the week. Foreign stocks and treasury bonds were higher.

In particular this week:
· The Commerce Department reported that:
o Consumer spending rose only 0.1% in February worse than expectations. When adjusted for inflation consumer spending fell 0.1% the first monthly decline since April. The February weakness was blamed on the severe winter weather in the Northeast.
o The personal savings rate hit 5.8% in February indicating that consumers are saving the windfall from lower gasoline prices.
· The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 3.1% in February despite the weather.
· According to the S&P Case-Shiller home price index in the US home prices rose 4.5% at the end of January from a year ago.
· The Institute for Supply Management reported that their purchasing manager’s index fell to 51.5 in March from 52.9 in February. Anything over 50 represents expansion but the expansion rate has slowed every monthly since October.
· The Labor Department reported that first time claims for unemployment fell by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000, much better than expectations and a 15 year low. The four week moving average also fell by 14,750 to 285,500.


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