Global stock markets staged a choppy recovery during a trading week shortened in the United States by a holiday. As fears of a trade war abated, investors returned to pick up bargains among technology stocks. The week’s gains, however, were not enough to offset accumulated losses for the quarter. In other action, gold and oil prices fell on the week, and the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield declined from 2.83% to about 2.74%.
Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February, according to the Conference Board. Its Consumer Confidence Index® decreased to 127.7 in March, down from 130.0 in February. Business conditions were the primary reason cited for the moderation. Consumers’ outlook for the job market was also less positive.
The Commerce Department revised 4Q17 U.S. GDP growth up to 2.9% from an earlier estimate of 2.5%. Department statisticians revised consumer spending higher, and reduced the drag on growth from private inventories. The 4Q17 GDP growth rate was slightly slower than the 3Q17 rate of 3.2% and 2Q17 growth of 3.1%.
Commerce also provided its first estimate of U.S. corporate profits for the fourth quarter. After-tax corporate profits declined 9.6% compared to the third quarter, and were down 6.0% compared to the fourth quarter a year ago.
Improvements in production-related indicators elevated the Chicago Fed National Activity Index to 0.88 in February from 0.02 in January. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased. The Index’s three-month moving average increased from 0.16 in January to 0.37 in February, a level associated with periods of economic expansion
The European Commission’s Eurozone Business Climate Indicator measured 1.34 in March, its third consecutive month of decline. By contrast, the EC’s Eurozone Consumer Confidence index rose to 0.1 in March, having turned positive last November for the first time in more than five years.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 6.2% annual gain in January, down from 6.3% in December 2017. Home prices continued to rise across the country over the last 12 months.