Market Commentary for the Week: 11 (12- 16 March 2018)

Fears of heightened global trade tensions appeared to be the main factor weighing on sentiment early in the week. Investors continued to worry about retaliation following the previous week’s announcement of new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Markets were also unsettled by the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a number of personnel changes within U.S. President Donald Trump’s inner circle. The February U.S. inflation positive data, was initially positively viewed by equity markets as it illustrated that inflation was gradually picking up, and that a more aggressive pace of rate hikes by the U.S. Fed would not be necessary. 

U.S. stocks ended modestly higher Friday, with the S&P 500 breaking a four-day losing streak, though major indexes still suffered hefty weekly declines. For the week, the Dow fell 1.5%, the S&P lost 1.2%, and the Nasdaq declined 1%.



On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3%, to close at 24,946.51.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, to end at 2,752.01. Nine of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ending higher on the day. Energy led gains, up 1%. Tech and consumer discretionary shares lagged, with both sectors losing 0.1%.



The Nasdaq Composite Index  finished 0.25 point higher at 7,481.99, a gain of 0.2%.



Friday was a so-called “quadruple witching day,” one of four days in the year in which four types of options and futures contracts expire simultaneously, typically resulting in heightened volatility and trading volumes.

Oil prices rose Friday to notch a second straight weekly climb, as expectations for growing global crude demand helped to outweigh pressure from concerns over strong U.S. production. April WTI added 1.9%, to settle at $62.34 a barrel. It settled at its highest since March 6 and climbed about 0.5% for the week.



Gold settled at its lowest level in just over two weeks on Friday, losing roughly 0.9% for the week. April gold fell 0.4%, to settle at $1,312.30 an ounce.



Bitcoin suffered a hefty loss on Wednesday after Google said it would ban cryptocurrency-related advertising and virtual currencies. Bitcoin prices pushed higher on Friday at $8,492.06, up 2.2%. This week, bitcoin has dropped nearly 10%. Among bitcoin futures, the Cboe Global Markets April contract rose 3.6% to settle at $8,585, while the CME Group’s March contract rose 3.9% to close at $8,555.



Among other cryptocurrencies, ether was up 0.2% at $612.59.