This Weekly Financial Markets Update reviews the top market headlines: Mixed Jobs Report for February, Business Surveys Slip in February, Fed Districts Report Slight Economic Improvement

Top Three Market Headlines

Mixed Jobs Report for February: The Labor Department reported last week that employers in the U.S. added 275,000 jobs in February, which exceeded economists' expectations. At the same time, however, the estimated number of job additions for January was revised significantly lower to 229,000 versus the previously reported figure of 353,000. Industries seeing the most job additions in February were healthcare, government, and food services. Despite the gains, the unemployment rate increased during the month to 3.9% from 3.7% in January.

Business Surveys Slip in February: After improving in January, two indices intended to reflect business activity in the U.S. lost ground in March. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Services Index, based on surveys of business executives, fell slightly to 52.6% from 53.4% in the prior month. Despite the slippage, the Index continued signaling expanding business activity in the sector, remaining above the 50% threshold that differentiates expansion of activity from contraction. Meanwhile, the ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 47.8% in February from 49.1%, its 16th straight month below 50%.

Fed Districts Report Slight Economic Improvement: Economic activity across the United States improved modestly during January and February, according to the latest Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal information about current economic conditions collected eight times a year by the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. A majority of Districts reported slight to modest growth in both activity and employment during the period. At the same time, several reports noted that consumers were exhibiting more price sensitivity in their purchasing behavior, trading down to cheaper items and spending less on discretionary goods due to persistent price pressures.

As of March 11, 2024 Week Quarter-To-Date Year-To-Date One-Year
MSCI All Country World 0.60% 6.34% 6.34% 24.15%
S&P 500 -0.23% 7.73% 7.73% 30.43%
Russell 2000 0.34% 2.97% 2.97% 12.59%
MSCI EAFE 2.47% 5.78% 5.78% 17.85%
MSCI Emerging Markets 1.24% 1.51% 1.51% 8.88%
FTSE NAREIT Equity 1.37% 0.11% 0.11% 7.95%
Bloomberg Commodity 0.91% 0.37% 0.37% -1.61%
Barclays U.S. Aggregate 0.81% -0.50% -0.50% 5.11%