Equities were very much a mixed bag last week. After the Dow and S&P 500 set fresh all-time closing records early in the week, a strong downdraft on Thursday flattened out the S&P for the week and took the Dow back into negative territory year-to-date. The Nasdaq, which has suffered in recent months, saw a positive week, while the small-cap Russell 2000 ended the week down almost 9% from its March high. The pain in domestic equities left the Global Dow the year-to-date leader. Meanwhile, a rally in the 10-year Treasury sent the yield to its lowest level since last October.
A fresh closing high on the Dow on Friday finally enabled it to edge back into positive territory for the year, while the S&P 500 ended the week basically flat. However, after the prior week's respite from selling pressure, the Nasdaq and the small caps of the Russell 2000 returned to their recent losing ways.
Generally encouraging data that suggested winter's economic deep freeze might be thawing led to broad-based gains for equities despite some slippage at week's end. The Dow finally managed to surpass briefly the record closing high it hadn't seen since New Year's Eve. However, of the four domestic indices in the table below, the S&P 500 remained the only one still in positive territory year-to-date. Meanwhile, the Fed's steady-as-she-goes approach to tapering helped boost demand for the benchmark 10-year Treasury, whose yield fell to its lowest level so far this year.
After a mostly positive week, investors went into Friday seemingly determined to take some money off the table over a weekend when the Ukrainian conflict seemed to promise fresh sanctions against Russia. The small caps of the Russell 2000 took the brunt of the selling with a 1.9% loss on Friday alone, while the S&P 500 was left essentially flat.
Despite the holiday-shortened trading week, domestic equities managed to recapture virtually all of the ground lost the week before--and more important, the gains were across the board. Even the tech and biotech sectors that have suffered recently showed signs of stabilization, while the S&P 500 managed to return to positive territory for the year.
The wave of tech and biotech selling that has taken the Nasdaq down more than 8% in just over a month spread to the large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 last week. However, the S&P is still only 4% away from the record close it hit less than two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the profit-taking in stocks sent the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield down as demand pushed prices up.
For the second straight week, the large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 fared better than the Nasdaq, which continued to be hurt by selling in the technology and biotech sectors that played such a big part in its 2013 gains. The S&P hit a new all-time closing high on Wednesday, while the Dow came close to matching the record close seen on New Year's Eve 2013. Meanwhile, a jobs report that seemed to support the Fed's current gradual tapering left bond markets relatively stable.
Ouch: Last week was large-cap stocks' time to shine (or at least outperform). The Nasdaq's 2.8% loss represented its worst week since early October 2012, and the small caps of the Russell 2000 suffered even more; both were hurt by selling in the tech and biotech sectors. Meanwhile, the Global Dow rebounded into positive territory year-to-date.
The Fed taketh away and the Fed giveth: After domestic equities fell in the wake of Wednesday's Federal Reserve announcement, encouraging manufacturing data, also from the Fed, helped stocks rebound to end the week with a gain. The Dow, which has generally been bringing up the rear in recent weeks, led the pack, though it remained solidly in negative territory for the year, along with its overseas counterpart. Meanwhile, bonds took a hit because of questions about the timing of an increase in short-term interest rates.
Disappointing economic data across the board from China plus the escalating tug-of-war over Crimea helped send equities south last week. The S&P 500's decline put it back into...