Market Commentary for the Week: 8 (19- 23 February 2018)

With a shortened trading week in several markets, equity markets traded slightly higher. Of interest this week were the Fed minutes from Janet Yellen’s last meeting as outgoing Fed chair. Within the release, Fed officials grew more positive on the U.S. economic outlook in 2018.

U.S. equity indexes were slightly higher after digesting this week’s Fed minutes and slightly higher bond yields. U.S. stocks finished modestly higher on the week as volatility persisted: in three of the four trading days, the S&P 500 moved by more than 0.5%, including a 1.6% rally on Friday. All three indexes posted a second straight weekly advance; the Dow rose 0.4% over the week while the S&P added 0.6% and the Nasdaq rose 1.4%.



U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Friday, with major indexes ending up more than 1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4%, to 25,312. The index has been up for two straight weeks, representing its largest two week climb, up 4.6%, since Nov. 2016.

The S&P 500 added 1.6%, to 2,747. The day’s gains were broad, with all 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ending higher on the day. Technology shares were among the biggest gainers, up 2.2%, while energy rose 2.2%, supported by an increase in the price of crude oil. The two straight weeks of gains for the equity index, up 2.9% over that period, are its most since Feb. 2015.



The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 1.8%, to 7,337. It produced its best two-week stretch, up 6.7%, since Oct. 2014.



Oil traded higher given strong inventory draws in both crude oil and refined products. Oil futures ended higher Friday, maintaining gains after data showed the number of U.S. rigs rose by 1 this week. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose 78 cents, or 1.2%, to end at $63.55 a barrel.



Gold settled lower Friday, logging its worst weekly decline so far this year as the U.S. dollar bounced back from its earlier weakness. April gold fell 0.2%, to settle at $1,330.30 an ounce, falling 1.7% for the week.



After a two-day selloff, major cryptocurrencies saw moderate gains Friday as they looked to claw back losses in what’s been a tumultuous few days for crypto investors.The 48-hour slide saw bitcoin lose as much as $2,000, trading below $9,600 late Thursday, before finishing the Friday session up 1.3% at $9,971.21.



The futures markets had a mixed Friday. The Cboe Global Market’s March closed down 0.1% at $9,920 and the CME Group Inc. February contract finished higher by 2.3% at $10,320. The CME’s February contract expires on Friday, with the front-month March contract closing down 1.3% at $9,950. For the week, both March contracts finished down more than 10%.

Ether finished 4.1% higher on Friday, trading to $848.12.