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Bob Carey
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  US Stock Markets Ended May 4, 2018

Equities took a strong leg up last Friday, but it wasn't enough to make up for the declines earlier in the week as the S&P 500 Index returned -0.21%. The index closed the month of April with a gain of 38 basis points after large losses in both March and February. The Federal Open Market Committee met on Tuesday & Wednesday and acknowledged the strengthening labor market, increased economic activity, and strong job gains. The committee left rates unchanged as many investors expected. Two days of trade talks between the US and China were held last week in Beijing in hopes of avoiding a trade war. While Chinese media reported some trade issue agreements, the meetings ended with most trade issues unresolved. In economic news, US Nonfarm Payrolls showed 168K new jobs in April. While this was lower than expected, it was a large increase relative to March. The US unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%, the lowest rate since 2000. US initial jobless claims of 211K were lower than the consensus estimate of 225K and slightly higher than the previous week's 209K. Though inventories increased, crude oil prices were up 2.38% last week closing at $69.72 per barrel as Middle East tensions attributed to elevated prices. Information technology was the best performing sector last week with strong performances from larger technology companies like Apple Inc., Mastercard Inc., and NVIDIA Corp. Apple Inc. returned 13.25% last week after the company announced exceeding second quarter earnings expectations, a board approved $100 billion share repurchase, and a 16% increase in their quarterly dividend. Qorvo Inc., a manufacturer of integrated circuits for communications devices, showed the best performance in the S&P 500 Index with a 17.97% return as some analysts increased their recommendation of the Apple Inc. supplier. ANDEAVOR, a petroleum refiner and marketer, returned 14.20% last week. The stock jumped on Monday after announcing a definitive merger agreement with Marathon Petroleum Corp. More than 80% of companies in S&P 500 Index have already reported earnings for the first quarter and 79% of those have reported beating their estimates.
Posted on Monday, May 7, 2018 @ 8:32 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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