This Weekly Market Update reviews the top market headlines: Gold Rally Picks Up Steam, Home Sales Slip in March, Leading Indicators Lose Momentum

Top Three Market Headlines

Gold Rally Picks Up Steam: The price of gold hit another record high last week, with its front-month futures contract settling on Friday at more than $2,400 per ounce. The price has jumped more than 15% year-to-date following a gain of 13.5% in 2023. Gold's strength in 2024 has come despite rising interest rates and an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar, both of which historically have tended to depress gold prices. Analysts have attributed the continued rally to sustained strong demand from global central banks and the metal's "safe haven" appeal amid escalating geopolitical tensions.

Home Sales Slip in March: After jumping to a 12-month high in February, sales of existing homes in the United States retreated in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales registered 4.19 million units (seasonally adjusted annual rate), down 4.3% from February; yet this was still the second-highest figure since May 2023. A greater inventory of homes for sale has spurred the recent pick-up in sales activity compared to the back half of 2023; total housing inventory of 1.11 million units at the end of March, for example, was up 4.7% from the prior month and 14.4% from one year ago. The median sales price of completed sales increased for the ninth straight month in March, rising 4.8% versus the prior year.

Leading Indicators Lose Momentum: The Conference Board reported last week that its Leading Economic Index (LEI), a composite of ten indicators intended to signal turning points in the economy, fell 0.3% in March, quickly reversing the 0.1% gain in February that was the first increase in two years. Negative contributors in March included building permits, consumers' outlook on the economy, new orders, and initial unemployment claims. Based on the index reading and its expectation that consumer spending will slow in upcoming months, the Conference Board forecasts that U.S. GDP growth will moderate over Q2 and Q3 of this year.

As of April 22, 2024 Week Quarter-To-Date Year-To-Date One-Year
MSCI All Country World -2.91% -5.07% 2.71% 15.33%
S&P 500 -3.04% -5.40% 4.58% 21.45%
Russell 2000 -2.76% -8.29% -3.54% 9.93%
MSCI EAFE -2.29% -4.69% 0.83% 7.08%
MSCI Emerging Markets -3.58% -3.64% -1.36% 4.10%
FTSE NAREIT Equity -2.99% -7.73% -7.91% 2.19%
Bloomberg Commodity 0.23% 3.92% 6.20% 1.32%
Barclays U.S. Aggregate -0.61% -2.36% -3.11% -0.24%