US Stocks Ended March 9, 2018
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Following an excellent January (+5.73%) and a dismal February (-3.69%), last week the S&P 500 Index returned 3.59% recording its second best week of trading in 2018. Equities have pushed back into positive territory (+4.63% YTD) after taking investors on a seesaw ride for 2018. Trade war fears, sparked the previous week by President Trump's proposed import tariffs on steel and aluminum, softened last week after some exemptions were revealed. Positive US economic news showed February nonfarm payroll increases of 313K, much higher than the expected 205K and January was revised up to 239K from the previously reported 200K. US initial jobless claims of 231K were higher than the consensus estimate of 220K and the previous week's 210K. Crude oil prices increased 1.29% and closed the week at $62.04 per barrel. All sectors posted gains last week with the S&P 500 Industrials, Financials, and Information Technology Indexes leading the way with returns of 4.45%, 4.42%, and 4.30% respectively. The best performing stock for the week in the S&P 500 Index was XL Group Ltd., a global insurer and reinsurer for industrial and commercial companies. The stock returned 28.57% last week due to the announcement that AXA SA had entered an agreement to acquire the company for $57.60 per share, a 33% premium over the previous week's closing price. Autodesk Inc., a producer of architectural design, mechanical design, and geographical PC software, jumped 14.87% on Wednesday after reporting a loss smaller than originally anticipated and many analysts increased their price targets. The company has transitioned to a subscription-based model helping increase their recurring revenue growth forecast. Lam Research Corp., a manufacturer of semiconductor processing equipment used in making integrated circuits, posted a15.92% return last week. On Tuesday, the information technology company announced a plan to return a minimum of 50% of free cash flow to shareholders over the next five years, increase their quarterly dividend by 120%, and repurchase an additional $2 billion in shares. Next week will bring earnings news from Adobe Systems Inc., Broadcom Limited, Dollar General Corp., and Ulta Beauty Inc.
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 8:55 AM

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.