Market Perspective for March 15, 2021

U.S. markets closed higher on Monday as investors put stimulus checks into the stock market. The Nasdaq led with an increase of 1.05 percent, the S&P 500 Index gained 0.65 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average 0.53 percent and the Russell 2000 Index 0.31 percent.

SPDR Consumer Discretionary (XLY) climbed 1.34 percent, SPDR Utilities (XLU) 1.28 percent and SPDR Technology (XLK) 1.07 percent.

Investors opted for high-quality names on Monday. iShares Edge MSCI Minimum Volatility USA (USMV) hit a new all-time high after rising 0.70 percent. Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (VIG) also hit a new all-time high after rising 0.57 percent on the day.

The Empire state index, a measure of manufacturing activity in the New York Fed’s region, jumped to 15.0 in March. That beat expectations and was well ahead of the prior month’s 12.1 reading.

Retail sales are the big economic data point this week. Economists forecast a 0.1 percent decline in February sales, with sales ex-autos rising 0.2 percent.

The National Association of Homebuilders will report its homebuilder confidence index Tuesday. Analysts think rising lumber prices, making new all-time highs by the day, will probably crimp confidence from 84 in February to 83 in March. Building permits and housing starts for February are also out this week.

SPDR Energy (XLE) dipped 1.14 percent as crude oil fell on the day. New lockdowns in Europe revived concerns about demand. Shares remain near 52-week highs though. XLE has risen more than 100 percent since early November.

The U.S. Dollar Index gained ground on Monday, rising 0.20 percent. Data from the U.S. government showed foreigners started buying U.S. stocks and bonds in January. China also purchased treasuries for the third straight month after selling for most of 2020. iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM) added 0.24 percent helped by the technology rally boosting Chinese tech stocks. iShares MSCI EAFE (EFA) gained only 0.08 percent as lockdown concerns weighed on investors’ minds.

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