April 2012 Market Recap
(For the month ended April 30, 2012.)
Stocks closed lower on the last day of April, causing the market to record its first monthly decline since November as a batch of fresh data pointed to weakness in the global economy. The 30-stock Dow was flat. Reports pulling prices down at the end of the month showed, among other things, that Spain has slipped into recession and that the Chicago Institute for Supply Management index reading was much weaker than expected by the consensus. Equities got off to a strong start in the early days of the month, but soon turned lower on mixed news about the economy and concerns about Federal Reserve policy. For example, data showed gains in U.S. retail sales and business inventories, but drops in the N.Y. Fed’s Empire State Index and the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index. While encouraging earnings reports and easing concerns about Europe pushed prices higher at times, concerns about slowing Chinese growth and disappointing U.S. jobs data also dragged prices lower during other sessions.
|Through 4/30/12*||April||YTD||1-Year||3-Year||5-Year||Closing Value|
|Dow Jones Industrials||0.0%||8.2%||3.1%||17.4%||0.2%||13,213.63|
Source: Standard & Poor’s. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials, and Nasdaq Composite are unmanaged indexes. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
*Price only. Does not include dividends.
Fed focusThe Federal Reserve’s April 24-25 Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting statement contained few surprises. But in a press conference, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stated that the Fed’s 2% inflation target is not a ceiling, suggesting that the central bank has more room for keeping an easy-money policy.
GDP dips Better-than-expected earnings at several companies helped offset April’s weaker-than-expected reading on first-quarter real GDP. U.S real GDP rose at an annualized 2.2% pace, decelerating from the fourth quarter’s 3.0% rate. It was much weaker than the 2.5% expected by consensus. Strength in consumer spending and residential investment helped offset the weaknesses elsewhere in the economy.
Consumer sentiment The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index fell slightly to 69.2 points in April from 69.5 in March. However, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final April consumer sentiment index rose to 76.4 points from 76.2 in March and from the preliminary April reading of 75.5 points.