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Market Commentary - Page 6

The final few earnings reports are yet to trickle in, but it’s already clear that U.S. large-cap stocks had a much better first quarter than the market had anticipated. Prospects for the Standard & Poor’s in coming quarters are generally seen as positive, though with a couple of potential caveats.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is near a record high and volatility is close to a quarter-century low. It’s a combination that would seem optimal for those who enjoy watching their wealth grow but at the same time value a good night’s sleep. However, some worry about the quiet.

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When it comes to U.S. economic expectations, the fixed income market appears to be both optimistic and pessimistic. Pessimists see several challenges ahead such as a slowinggrowth trend, a legislative stalemate in Washington, and ongoing political turmoil in Europe andNorth Korea. However, optimists believe stronger earnings are an indication of improving economicconditions.

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France’s weekend election provided an immediate boost for European stocks.However, we think attractive valuations combined with improving corporate profitability andeconomic conditions provide a longer-lasting opportunity for investors. Recent economic datasignals a positive trend in Europe that appears to be strengthening.

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Seven weeks ago, U.S. stocks sat at all-time highs which had investors feeling festive. The spirit has since waned a bit, but it’s unclear if the party is completely over as the index was only 2% below its March 1 record as of Tuesday.

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