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Bob Carey
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  US Stocks Ended March 31, 2017
Posted Under: Weekly Market Commentary
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With the GOP unable to garner enough support for the healthcare bill the prior Friday, equities showed their only weakness last week at the open on Monday. They advanced most of the week as the S&P 500 Index returned 0.82%. The index closed the first quarter of 2017 with a 6.07% return, marking the best quarterly performance since fourth quarter 2015. Expectations of tax reform showed investors increasing their exposure to less defensive names, with energy, consumer discretionary and materials leading the way. Crude oil advanced 5.48% for the week, increasing $2.63 and closing at $50.85 per barrel. The advance came as an Energy Information Administration report showed a decline in US refined product stockpiles. U.S. consumer confidence came in higher than expected as the Conference Board number jumped to the highest level since December 2000. The U.S. Richmond Federal Reserve Manufacturing Survey also showed a positive jump above expectations for March. News that the U.S. economy grew at a revised rate of 2.1% in the fourth quarter also helped fuel the advance of equities. The US initial jobless claims of 258K were higher than the consensus estimate of 247K, but lower than the previous week's 261K. Eight of the eleven economic sectors had positive performance for the week with energy showing the best performance returning 2.21%. Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., a pharmaceutical company that develops drugs for cystic fibrosis and autoimmune diseases, jumped 20.45% on Wednesday after releasing great results from a drug trial. ConocoPhillips, a large energy company focused on exploration and production, increased 8.81% on Thursday after announcing it would sell some of its Canadian assets to Cenovus Energy for $13.3 billion in cash and stock, allowing them to reduce debt and increase share repurchasing. FMC Corp., a diversified research chemical company in the materials sector, climbed 13.15% on Friday after announcing that it would acquire a portion of DuPont Corp. The European Commission is requiring DuPont Corp to divest this specific portion due to their pending merger with The Dow Chemical Company.
Posted on Monday, April 3, 2017 @ 8:20 AM • Post Link Share: 
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These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
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