Market Perspective for March 1, 2019

Stocks increased for yet another week. The Nasdaq led this week with an increase of 0.89 percent.  Strength in technology also helped SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) advance 0.48 percent. iShares MSCI EAFE (EFA) gained 0.80 percent.

SPDR Technology (XLK) advanced 0.99 percent this week, SPDR Financial (XLF) 0.87 percent and SPDR Healthcare (XLV) 0.43 percent.

Small- and mid-cap biotechnology stocks rallied after Roche offered to buy Spark Therapeutics (ONCE) at a 120 percent markup. SPDR S&P Biotech (XBI) advanced 7.08 percent.

Pending home sales rose 4.6 percent and building permits increased. Along with a rebound in homebuilder confidence, which is positive. The Chicago PMI jumped to 64.7 in February, well ahead of estimates and the January reading. Both the Markit and ISM manufacturing PMIs also show expansion. The Conference Board consumer confidence index rose to 131.4 in February.

GDP increased 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, well ahead of the economist consensus forecast of 1.9 percent. The economy grew 2.9 percent for 2018.

Amazon (AMZN) sent competitors Target (TGT), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Kroger (KR) lower on Friday after it was indicated their intent to open a chain of grocery stores. Kroger was hardest hit, losing 4.47 percent on the day.

Home Depot (HD), Lowe’s (LOW), Macy’s (M), Best Buy (BBY), Gap (GPS) and Foot Locker (FL) reported earnings. Even though consumer spending and retail sales dipped in December, overall retailers delivered strong reports. SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) gained 2.26 percent on the week. Two of the stronger performers were Gap and Foot Locker. They returned 19.18 percent and 5.75 percent, respectively.

Crude oil closed the week at $55.80.


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