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HA – Key Economic Events That Moved the Markets in April 2019


Hopes for a resolution to the U.S.-China trade dispute, better than expected earnings, lowered fears of a global economic slowdown particularly in China and Europe, a dovish Federal Reserve, and a screaming 3.2% GDP number powered the rally in stock index futures this month.

S&P 500 Index Daily Chart from April 1 to April 30, 2019

April 1

  • Stock indices across the globe advanced on a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing data.
  • China’s Caixin-Markit indicated manufacturing purchasing managers index advanced to above 50 in March, a level which indicates growth.
  • Retail sales for February, coming in at -0.2%, was weaker than expected.
  • ISM composite index, at 55.3 came in on the higher end of consensus, indicating solid growth despite slowing growth for exports.

April 2

  • Durable goods for February fell by 1.6%; though at the lower end of consensus range, the report reflected an expected cooling for particular orders most notably aircraft; overall the report highlighted more weaknesses than strengths.
  • Indices remained relatively unchanged.

April 3

  • Global indices initially climbed on renewed hopes for a US and China trade deal resolution.
  • ADP jobs report showed a gain of 129,000 jobs–a major miss, as the forecast was 165,000.
  • The ADP report showed the weakest job growth since September 2017.

April 4

  • Indices are largely mixed as President Trump prepares to meet Chinese officials in Washington to continue discussing the ongoing trade dispute.
  • Jobless claims declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000 in the week ending March 30–the lowest level since December 1969.

April 5

  • Indices are up sharply as nonfarm payrolls bounced back up to a higher-than-expected 196,000 in March.
  • Unemployment remains low at 3.8%.
  • The wage indications remain favorable from a Fed perspective–up 0.1%, a non-inflationary level, a figure that may encourage the Fed to continue an accommodative policy.

April 8

  • Indices opened lower but advanced midday supported by last week’s rally, reported progress on US-China trade negotiations, and strong US employment figures.
  • Factory orders came in at -0.5% slightly below consensus.
  • Overall, the three major US indices are closing in on record highs as investors appear to be looking past expected earnings declines due to a more accommodative Federal Reserve stance.

April 9

  • Indices moved lower after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on approximately $11 billion in imports from the EU.
  • The February JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) reports showed a sharp slowing in job growth, coming in at 7.087 million jobs, well below the expected 7.565 consensus figure.

April 10

  • US consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.41% in March, the biggest in 14 months.
  • According to the Atlanta Fed’s April report, inflation expectations at the business level remain unchanged for a third straight month, hovering at 1.9%.

April 11

  • Indices traded higher overnight due to developments in the US-China trade talks.
  • Jobless claims fell below 200,000 for the first time since 1969.
  • US producer prices rose by 0.6% in March, which compares to expectations of up .3%, as energy prices soared.

April 12

  • Indices got a boost from Chinese trade data, which should a significant recovery in exports, an increase of 14.2% in March after large declines in January and February.
  • Stock markets were further supported by strong earnings figures in the banking sector.
  • US import prices were up 0.6% in March, slightly higher than the 0.5% that economists had expected.

April 15

  • Stocks moved slightly lower despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin comments that the US-China trade talks are nearing the final round.
  • There were also separate reports that U.S. negotiators tempered demands that China reduce industrial subsidies as a condition for a trade agreement after resistance from Beijing, marking a concession on a core U.S. trade-talk objective.
  • The New York Federal Reserve Empire State business conditions index in April rebounded to 10.1 from a nearly two year low of 3.7 in March. Economists had expected a reading of 6.8.

April 16

  • Indices advanced midday due to positive earnings in both the banking and healthcare sector.
  • Industrial production in March fell 0.1% in contrast to expectations of a 0.3% gain.
  • The housing market index report can in at consensus at 63, indicating that builder optimism is slowly inching higher as compared with March–the index ad plunged toward the end of 2018, its recovery supported by a major decline in mortgage rates.

April 17

  • International trade figures came in at -$40.4 Billion, higher than economist expectations.
  • Exports rose by 1.5% to $139.5 billion, while imports rose only by 0.2%, figures that indicate an improvement in the nation’s trade deficit.
  • Of the 42 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, 81% have beaten consensus estimates.
  • Nasdaq futures reached record highs.

April 18

  • Indices are higher due to stronger than expected economic reports.
  • Jobless claims declined for a fifth straight week by 5,000, a near 50-year low.
  • Retail sales posted the largest gain in 1 year, soaring 1.6% over last month, slightly beating economist projections of 1.1%.

April 22

  • Existing home sales came in at 5.2 million, slightly under the 5.3 million consensus expectation.
  • The Dow edged higher after the US ended all exemptions from Iran oil sanctions.
  • Today’s rally also drew support from positive investor sentiment regarding corporate earnings–of the 77 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, nearly 78% have beaten earnings expectations.

April 23

  • Indices closed at record highs.
  • Continued earnings stabilization is a significant factor behind today’s rally.
  • Recession fears also seem to be fading.
  • Concerns about slowing growth in both China and Europe have also slightly faded.
  • Also, the assumption that the Fed will keep rate hikes in check have also been supportive of the markets.
  • March’s new home sales easily topped expectations at a 692,000 annual rate.

April 24

  • Indices fell from yesterday’s record highs as a series of disappointing corporate earnings mixed with strong earnings in the tech sector.
  • US-China trade talks continue with S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin traveling to Beijing for trade negotiations beginning on April 30.
  • Overall investor sentiment has been skewed toward the bullish side.

April 25

  • Nasdaq advanced to record highs today as tech stock earnings continue to show strength.
  • S&P a few points lower due to earnings miss in the manufacturing sector (3M and UPS).
  • Economic reports are mixed, with durable goods surging 2.7% and jobless claims jumping to 230,000 against a consensus expectation of 200,000.

April 26

  • Stocks soared upon the release of the GDP numbers which showed that the economy grew by 3.2%.
  • Economists were expecting a 2.3% figure, so the GDP numbers came as an additional tailwind to investor sentiment which by now had looked past recession fears and global economic slowdown concerns.
  • Furthermore, there are reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump meeting in Washington possibly in June may be toward the finalization of a deal to end the trade war.

April 29

  • The S&P 500 hit a record high today, stemming from last week’s positive GDP numbers and corporate earnings strength, a large percentage of which (among S&P 500 companies) are topping expectations.
  • Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.9% in March when up .4% was anticipated.
  • Markets are anticipating 160 of the S&P 500 companies to report earnings this week.

April 30

  • Employment cost index increased a seasonally adjusted 0.7% from January through March; a gain of 0.8% was expected by economists.
  • Consumer confidence climbs back up at 129.2, beating economist expectations of 127.1.
  • Amidst strong corporate earnings, markets are anticipating Friday’s employment report.



Karl Montevirgen

Market Strategist | Halifax America


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