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The Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit in goods rose (+0.6%) to $91.6 billion in February, as the value of exports exceeded the decline in imports. The figure for January was revised down from $91.5B. The trade gap was the widest since October 2022. The advance economic indicators report showed exports in February declining (-3.8%) to $167.8B, which was $6.7B less than the previous month. A drop in the exports of automobiles (-11.9%) and consumer goods (-4.6%) contributed to the decline. Imports fell (-2.3%) to $259.4B in February, as fewer automobiles (-7.1%) and consumer goods (-5.6%) were imported. Wholesale inventories were estimated at $920.3B in February (+0.2%) and followed a (-0.5%) drop the previous month. Retail inventories were estimated to be at $747.3 billion (+0.8) in February and followed a (+0.2%) gain in January. A (+1.9%) increase in automobile inventories to $204.1B was a contributing factor. Excluding automobiles, retail inventories rose (+0.4%) to $543.1B. This component is incorporated into the calculation of gross domestic product.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index, rose for the third consecutive month up 0.8% in February to 83.2. The Pending Home Sales Index tracks the transactions of home sale contracts not yet completed in the US, where an index of 100 is the average contract activity in 2001. Month over month pending home sales increased in three of four regions – signings increased in the Northeast (+6.5% to 72.5), followed by the South (+0.7% to 99.3), and the Midwest (+0.4% to 84.9). Only the West saw a decrease (-.2.4% to 64.6). Year over year pending sales have dropped (-21.1%). Year-over-year figures fell in all regions, with the West leading the way (-28.4%), followed by the South (-21.7%), Northeast (-17%), and the Midwest (-16.5%). Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist stated that “The affordable U.S. regions – the Midwest and South – are leading the recovery,” Yun also added. “Mortgage rates have improved in recent weeks after the federal government guaranteed the status of most mortgages amidst uncertainty in the financial market. While access to commercial mortgage loans could become increasingly difficult, residential mortgage loans are expected to be more readily available.”
The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ final estimate on the fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth reported an economy expanding at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 2.6%, a downward revision from last month’s 2.7%, and the first estimate of 2.9%. For all of 2022, the GDP grew by 2.1%, down from 5.9% in 2021. Another downward revision in consumer spending to 1% from 1.4% last month, and a first estimate of 2.1% was the primary contributor to the final reading. Household spending accounts for some 70% of U.S. economic activity. A downward revision in exports also contributed. A partial offset was business investment which was revised up for the third time to a 4.5% annual growth rate, from 3.7% the last month and an original reading of 1.4%. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of the GDP were revised down. Inflation rose at an annual 3.7% pace in the fourth quarter, as compared to 4.3% in Q3. Core PCE, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, was revised up to 4.4% from 4.3% last month, and the initial estimate of 3.9%.
Monday April 3 – ISM Manufacturing PMI (March)
Friday April 7 – Unemployment Rate (March)
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