The S&P 500 index rose 1.8% last week for its second consecutive gain, lifting the index further into positive territory for the month as stocks recouped some of their losses from earlier in the year.
The back-to-back weekly gains have placed the index solidly on track for its first monthly increase of 2022, barring a significant drop in the four remaining sessions of March. Still, due to the losses posted in January and February, the S&P 500 remains in the red for the year to date; it is down 4.7% for 2022 as of Friday’s close.
As the end of the first quarter approaches, investors appear more comfortable with monetary policy changes than when they started 2022.
Concerns about the economy and inflation have persisted, especially as energy prices have soared amid Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. Nevertheless, the gains of the last two weeks point to hopes that stocks had fallen far enough this year to reflect the economic and geopolitical uncertainties. Investors are hoping Q1 economic data and corporate results will turn out better than feared.
In an encouraging sign, the Labor Department reported weekly jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level since 1969.
All but one sector of the S&P 500 rose last week. The energy sector had the largest weekly advance, up 7.4%, followed by materials, up 4.1%, and utilities, up 3.5%. The one sector in the red was health care, down by just 0.2%.
Next week, March employment data will be in focus as ADP releases its monthly employment report on Wednesday and the Labor Department posts its monthly nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate on Friday. Other economic data expected next week include the March consumer confidence index on Tuesday, revised Q4 gross domestic product on Wednesday, and February inflation data on Thursday.
Get instructions on how to enable our Flash News Briefing skill to your Amazon devices: