Economic and market updates

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Monthly market summary: March 31, 2015

Economic Update for May 4, 2015   |   Download PDF

Highlights of news-making events of the past week, from the economy and profits to Europe and interest rates.

economy

The BEA estimated that first-quarter GDP increased at an annual rate of 0.2% and that consumer spending rose 0.4% in March. The Commerce Dept. found construction spending slipped 0.6% in March. Manufacturing expanded in April, at same pace as March, the ISM reported. The NAR reported pending home sales rose 1.1% in March. Japan's METI stated industrial production fell 0.3% in March.

employment

Initial jobless claims fell by 34,000 to 262,000 in the week ended April 25, 2015, according to the Labor Department. The four-week moving average was 283,750. The Employment Cost Index increased 0.7% for the first quarter.

profits

As of April 24, 2015, of the 201 S&P 500 Index companies reporting first-quarter earnings, 144 — or 71.6% — beat analysts' estimates, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

emotion

In a final reading, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose to 95.9 in April from 93.0 in March. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in April. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to 44.7 in the week ended April 30, 2015, from 45.4 in the prior week.

europe

In a flash report, Eurostat noted that euro area annual inflation is expected to be 0.0% in April, up from -0.1% in March. Germany's Federal Statistical Office found import prices fell by 1.4% in March. The U.K.'s Office for National Statistics estimated that first-quarter GDP is expected to have increased by 0.3%.

rates

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose. The Federal Open Market Committee voted to maintain the current federal funds rate and noted that economic growth slowed during the winter. The FOMC indicated it would be appropriate to raise rates "when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2% objective."

risks

  • Interest-rate volatility as the market considers when the Fed will raise interest rates
  • Geopolitical risk in Eastern Europe and the Middle East
  • Deflation risk and currency instability in Europe

All economic and performance information is historical and does not guarantee future results. The views and opinions expressed are those of Putnam Investments, are subject to change with market conditions, and are not meant as investment advice.