This Weekly Financial Markets Update reviews the top market headlines: Strong First Quarter for Stocks, Uptrend in Home Prices Continues in January, Consumer Sentiment Holds Firm in March

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Top Three Market Headlines

Strong First Quarter for Stocks: Stocks around the globe showed hearty gains in the first quarter of 2024, extending the rally that kicked off in the fourth quarter of 2023. In the U.S., the bellwether S&P 500 index posted a 10.6% total return in Q1, a strong follow-up to its 11.7% Q4 2023 gain. Small capitalization stocks also had a solid first quarter, albeit more subdued, with the Russell 2000 index rising 5.2%. International stocks showed respectable gains as well, with the MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australasia, Far East) index clocking a 5.8% total return (in U.S. dollar terms). Elsewhere, bonds struggled to overcome a modest rise in market yields, with the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Index registering a 0.8% loss in Q1.

Uptrend in Home Prices Continues in January: Home prices across the United States pushed higher again in January, according to data released last week by the S&P Dow Jones Indices. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller 20-city composite, which measures the value of real estate in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas, rose 0.1% from December, the 12th consecutive monthly rise. On a year-over-year basis, the 20-city composite increased 6.6% in January, up from a 6.2% pace in the previous month. Prices across all 20 regions rose on an annual basis, with San Diego (+11.2%), Los Angeles (+8.6%) and Detroit (+8.2%) on top of the mix

Consumer Sentiment Holds Firm in March: Consumer sentiment was relatively steady in March, according to two widely-followed surveys of consumers released last week. The Index of Consumer Sentiment published by the University of Michigan registered 79.4, up modestly from 76.9 in February, with the increase attributed to consumers assessing that inflation will continue to soften. Meanwhile, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index was little changed in March at 104.7 versus a revised February number of 104.8. Survey results indicated that consumers were more optimistic about present business and labor market conditions while exhibiting less confidence about the future.

As of April 01, 2024 Week Quarter-To-Date Year-To-Date One-Year
MSCI All Country World 0.36% 8.20% 8.20% 25.53%
S&P 500 0.40% 10.56% 10.56% 32.53%
Russell 2000 2.60% 5.18% 5.18% 21.87%
MSCI EAFE 0.13% 5.78% 5.78% 17.32%
MSCI Emerging Markets 0.45% 2.37% 2.37% 9.31%
FTSE NAREIT Equity 2.54% -0.20% -0.20% 14.57%
Bloomberg Commodity 0.88% 2.19% 2.19% 0.75%
Barclays U.S. Aggregate 0.23% -0.78% -0.78% 2.36%