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Weekly Market Brief: March 11, 2024

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Since the October lows, the S&P 500 index has closed lower for the week just 3 times. Two of those 3 have come in the last 4 weeks. The rally has certainly slowed, but don’t let that distract from the strong start to the year. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ are both up more than 7%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 2.7%. The gains haven’t been limited to stocks, either. Bitcoin is following up on last year’s strong performance with a 63% year-to-date rally, while crude oil is up nearly 9%.

And gold just hit its highest price of all time.

For the last three and a half years, gold prices had been stuck below $2050, a level that is also the 261.8% retracement from the COVID selloff in March 2020. Between those pre-COVID highs at $1,680 and resistance at $2050, the yellow metal had bounced back and forth, digesting the gains from 2015 to 2020 and generally frustrating everyone that had been involved.

That resistance level is no more:

Macro Dashboard

The US economy proved to be more resilient than most economic forecasters thought possible in 2023, ending the year with GDP running at a healthy 3.2% annualized rate. Things are slowing down at the start of 2024. Retail sales growth decelerated from an annual rate of more than 5% in December to just 2% in January. Industrial production is flat. And on Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment rose to a multi-year high of 3.9% in February.

A recession sometime in 2024 is possible as the effects of Federal Reserve policy actions come into full force, but looser policy is likely to come later this year, too, with inflation well off of last year’s peak. The year-over-year change in core PCE is down to 2.8%. Despite all the heat they’ve taken along the way, Jerome Powell & Co. are closer than ever to threading the needle on this soft landing.

What’s Ahead

Here are the key data releases to keep an eye in the upcoming week: