Stocks Finish Modestly Lower, See Ya Later April!

Market Summary

Wall Street finished lower across the board Monday, closing out the weakest month of 2012 as a weak reading of regional business activity generated concerns over domestic economic activity. The Q1 reading was no doubt weak, and although backward looking, it is the benchmark for Q2 GDP. As indicators weaken, we are looking at a potential low 2% annualized reading. By the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Averagefell 14.68 points, or 0.1%, to 13,213.63, snapping a four session winning streak. The S&P 500 Index shed 5.45 points, or 0.4%, to 1,397.91, with the industrial sector leading losses and telecommunications the sector gaining the most ground. The Nasdaq Composite lost 22.84 points, or 0.7%, to 3,046.36 . Looking at the monthly totals, the blue chips were left up 0.01% for the month, eking out its fourth straight monthly advance to start the year and managing to prolong its longest run of monthly gains since January 2007. After four straight months of gains, the S&P slipped 0.8% in April, while the Nasdaq Composite was off 1.5% for the month.

Gold declined 60 cents, or less than 0.1%, to $1,664.20 an ounce, finishing the month of April with a loss of 0.5%. Crude for June delivery fell 6 cents, or 0.1%, at $104.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange to end a four session advance. Oil futures rose 1.8% in April, up for two of the past three months.

Economic Rundown

Personal income and spending beat expectations for March. However, the spending number was partly due to inflation. Still, the spending trend is still positive, which echos what we saw in the latest GDP reading. Personal income in March improved 0.4 percent after a 0.3 percent rise the month before (originally up 0.2 percent) . The market median forecast called for a 0.3 percent gain. The important wages & salaries component gained 0.3 percent after advancing 0.4 percent in February. Consumer spending in March increased 0.3 percent, compared to a 0.9 percent in surge in February (previously up 0.8 percent). Analysts expected a 0.4 percent increase. Despite still high unemployment, the consumer sector is gaining modest momentum with aggregate income gains and an upward trend in real spending.

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