Stocks were lower in Asia as this second week of March begins; prices are down more moderately at midday in Europe; and U.S. stock futures are pointing slightly lower. China’s report of slower credit growth and a big decline in exports and resultant $23 billion trade deficit for February have renewed concerns about China’s growth outlook. Chinese share prices were down roughly 1% last week, and the Shanghai Composite’s 5% decline so far this year is one of the weakest among global markets. Follow the link below to our review of last week’s stock, bond, FX and commodities markets.
Two months of 2014 are in the books, and stocks are mostly (and modestly) higher, as are bonds. The Fed is still on the side of growth and, but for the bad weather, the economic momentum of the second half of 2013 is likely to have continued into the new year. Of course, bad weather – and other bad things – are always possibilities that investors have to account for.
Economic news has continued to run generally on the weak side of expectations, but “bad weather” apparently covers for a multitude of sins. Markets were pretty flat last week, with stocks not far off their highs. It was a week of disclosures for the Fed: investors focused a lot of attention on what the Federal Reserve was saying and thinking at last month’s FOMC meeting and at the 14 policy meetings during the financial crisis of 2008.