Strong U.S. jobs and manufacturing reports this week helped investor anxiety over slowing growth. The U.S. added 196,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate remained at a low 3.8%. Manufacturing data also looked strong last month – a welcome signal given that there have been indications of a global slowdown due to unresolved trade tensions. While a path to a resolution on trade with China remains unclear, progress inched forward this week through U.S. meetings with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. A Brexit deal continues to elude Prime Minister May and she announced her desire this week for an additional extension of the April 12 deadline.
U.S. small and large cap stocks responded favorably to the economic data – now up 16% and 15%, respectively. International stocks also posted a good week of returns with emerging markets up a strong 3% adding to their comeback after a less than stellar 2018. Bond prices broadly dropped last week as interest rates creeped up a little from the recent low levels. Commodity prices were also up last week as oil prices continue to increase with fewer concerns about demand and anticipations of tighter supply.