John Hancock: Weekly Market Recap Week Ended March 26th
It’s been just over a year since the S&P 500 fell to its low point early in the pandemic, and the stock market recovery since then has been massive. The index’s closing level on Tuesday was about 75% above its low point on March 23, 2020.
Labor market improvement
The number of unemployment benefit claims fell sharply in the latest week to 684,000—the lowest figure since the pandemic sent unemployment levels soaring. Looking ahead, a monthly jobs report is scheduled to be released on Friday; the most recent report showed a gain of 379,000 jobs in February.
Yield spike pauses
After weeks of declines in government bond prices, the year-to-date trend reversed course, as the yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond slipped to around 1.66%, down from 1.72% the previous week. Nevertheless, the yield is still up sharply from 0.92% at the end of last year.
Ahead of the mid-April start of quarterly earnings season, nearly twice as many companies that have issued guidance prior to their earnings releases raised their expectations compared with the number that lowered their forecasts. Sixty companies in the S&P 500 had issued positive guidance as of Friday, while 34 had issued negative guidance, according to FactSet.