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Money Watch Weekly Wrap

If investors started the quarter knowing that there would be rolling protests, riots and military action in Northern Africa and the Middle East; an earthquake and tsunami in Japan; and continued European debt worries, you certainly would not have blamed them for running for the hills. Instead, stocks closed out the first quarter with solid gains-in fact, it was the best first quarter since 1998-proving once again, that this Wall Street is one wacky world. At the end of the Q1, the S&P 500 stood 96 percent higher than the March, 2009 lows and 15 percent lower than the October, 2007 peak.

Small stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000, led the way with gains of 7.6%; the Dow was up 6.4%, the S&P 500 gained 5.4% and the NASDAQ added 4.8%. (For international investors, the upside action occurred in Eastern Europe, where the Bulgarian stock market was up 35.1% in US dollars.) But it was commodities that stole the Q1 spotlight: crude oil = +16.8%, corn = +10.2%, cotton = +38.3%.

  • DJIA: 12,376, up 1.2% on week, up 6.9% YTD (up 4.3% in two weeks)
  • S&P 500: 1332, up 1.4% on week, up 5.9% YTD (up 4.1% in two weeks)
  • NASDAQ: 2789, up 1.7% on week, up 5.1% YTD (up 5.5% in two weeks)
  • May Crude Oil: $107.94, up 2.4% on week
  • April Gold: $1428.10, up 0.1% on week
Total bank failures for 2011 = 26 (0 new bank failures over weekend)

FACTOIDS OF THE WEEK: Employment Edition (For more, "Jobs Report: March Springs Back")

  • March Jobs: +216,000
  • Total Jobs created since Feb, 2010: 1.5 million
  • Total Jobs lost in recession: 7.7 million
  • Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent, from 8.9 percent in February
  • Unemployed persons: 13.5 million, from 13.7 million
  • Long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks and over): 6.1 million, 45.5% of total unemployed
  • Part-timers (hours cut for economic reasons): 8.4 million
  • Median CEO pay 2010: +27% (source: USA Today)
  • Total Wages 2010: +2.1% (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
IN THE WEEK AHEAD: The unofficial kickoff of earnings season begins when Alcoa reports on Monday; minutes from the Fed's meeting could provide clues about future plans; and all eyes will be on Congressional horse trading in DC-on Friday, the nation's stopgap funding bill expires, igniting concerns about a potential government shutdown.

Mon 4/4:

Tues 4/5:
10:00 ISM Non-Manufacturing Index

2:00 FOMC Minutes

Weds 4/6:
A House Financial Services subcommittee looks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Thurs 4/7:
Chain Store Sales

8:30 Weekly Claims

10:00 Consumer Credit

Fri 4/8:
Stopgap funding bill expires

10:00 Wholesale Trade

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