Market Commentary for the Week: 12 (19- 23 March 2018)

Stocks suffered steep losses for the week against a remarkably turbulent geopolitical backdrop. Stocks were under pressure, as investors worried that the imposition of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs could spill into a global trade war. Adding to global worries was the escalating rift between Russia and the U.K.  Another important event in Washington was the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting. On Wednesday, the Fed announced another quarter-point rate hike, as was widely expected.

The stock market dropped 6% last week, leaving stocks down 10% from their record highs in January.  U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on Friday, with the main benchmarks recording their biggest weekly losses in more than two years.



The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.8%, to 23,533.20, as all but two components ended in negative territory. That marked the lowest close for the Dow of 2018. The blue-chip index fell 5.7% over the week and is down nearly 5% since the start of the year.

The S&P 500 index slumped 2.1%, to end at 2,588.26, with all of the 11 main sectors closing lower. Financials and technology stocks led decliners. The benchmark index lost 6% over the week and is down 3.2% year to date.



The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 2.4%, to 6,992.67 and posted a 6.5% loss over the week. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite weighed down in part by a steep drop in Facebook shares following revelations about undisclosed use of customer data.



Oil futures finished at an eight-week high Friday, as the growing risk of renewed sanctions on Iran and the possibility of an extension of OPEC production curbs into 2019 help prices notch their largest weekly gain since July. May WTI crude rose $1.58, or 2.5%, to settle at $65.88 a barrel. That was the highest finish since Jan. 26. It rose roughly 5.6% for the week.



Dollar weakness, trade fears, and geopolitical tensions boosted gold prices to their highest level in over a month. April gold surged $22.50, or 1.7%, to settle at $1,349.90 an ounce, ending at its highest levels since Feb. 16. Prices saw a weekly rise of about 2.9%.



Bitcoin failed to capitalize on a good start to the week, trading lower Friday, as technical indicators and overall market sentiment weighed on digital currencies. A single bitcoin last changed hands at $8,590.09, down 1.4%. The Cboe Global Markets April contract closed unchanged at $8,605 and the CME Group Inc. March contract finished at $8,615, down 0.2%.



It was a relatively quiet finish for so-called altcoin. Ether was down 2.5% at $525.88.