Wall Street dealt with several major issues in the first quarter of 2022. Investors had to evaluate the impact of rising inflation, higher interest rates, ongoing coronavirus concerns, and the Russia-Ukraine war. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here lost value by the end of the quarter. However, Treasury yields, the dollar, gold, and crude oil prices ended the first quarter higher. Among the market sectors, energy increased nearly 40.0%, while utilities climbed about 5.0%. The remaining sectors ended the quarter in the red, with consumer services (-12.0%) and information technology (-8.0%) losing the most.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose nearly 80 basis points. Crude oil prices increased nearly $28.00 per barrel, or 38.0%, in the first quarter. The dollar gained nearly 2.8%, while gold prices advanced more than 6.0%. The national average price for regular gasoline was $4.231 per gallon on March 28, $0.950 higher than the January 3 price of $3.281 and $1.379 higher than a year ago.
Despite attempts at peace talks, the war in Ukraine intensified in March, prompting the imposition of more economic sanctions against Russia. Inflationary pressures continued to mount, which led the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates 25 basis points with additional rate hikes anticipated. Nevertheless, stocks showed resilience. Each of the benchmark indexes posted gains from February. The S&P 500 rose 5.0%, the Nasdaq gained 4.7%, the Dow added 3.6%, the Russell 2000 climbed 2.1%, and the Global Dow increased 1.9%. Although crude oil prices were trending lower by the end of March, they were still $8.00 per barrel higher than where they began the month. The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced nearly 50 basis points. The dollar gained 1.5%, and gold prices climbed 1.9% to $1,945.70 per ounce.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN APRIL
Despite accelerating inflation, the war in Ukraine, and rising interest rates, most economic indicators are still demonstrating varying degrees of strength. However, March data may begin to show some economic slowing. Gross domestic product, which ran at an annualized rate of nearly 7.0% in February, is likely to recede, while the pace of job growth may decelerate. While the Federal Open Market Committee does not meet in April, it is expected to push interest rates up by 50 basis points in May. Hopefully, a resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict is near.
Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e., wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Forecasts are based on current conditions, subject to change, and may not come to pass. U.S. Treasury securities are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. The principal value of Treasury securities and other bonds fluctuates with market conditions. Bonds are subject to inflation, interest-rate, and credit risks. As interest rates rise, bond prices typically fall. A bond sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 largest, publicly traded companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indexes listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.