Market Update 04/04/22

Katerina Berezovsky

While equity markets finished lower for the quarter, they continued to build onto their gains from previous weeks during the trading sessions from March 29 to April 4.

The week began with a rally by the major indexes and a drop in the price of oil. Brent crude settled at around $110 per barrel on Tuesday, down from its record high of $123.70 earlier in the month. However, oil prices jumped on Wednesday, pulling the major indexes lower. The S&P 500 fell 0.6%, the Nasdaq composite fell 1.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%.

On Thursday, the price of Brent crude declined by 4.9% after President Joe Biden announced that he plans to release a total of 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat soaring energy prices.

“The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time,” the White House said in a press release. “This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as a bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up.”

Following the announcement, all major indexes fell over 1.5% on Thursday, concluding their worst quarter in two years. For the quarter, the Dow lost 4.6% while the Nasdaq lost 9.1%. The S&P 500 finished 4.9% lower, breaking a seven-quarter winning streak.

Additionally, the yields on the two-year and 10-year Treasuries inverted for the first time since 2019. For a moment, the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.331%, while the two-year Treasury yield was at 2.337% on Thursday. Inverted yield curves are usually predictors of a recession.

“For us, that would be a recessionary indicator, but I don’t think it’s time yet to panic,” Arun Sai, a multi-asset strategist at Pictet Asset Management, told The Wall Street Journal. “We’re on the verge of a meaningful signal, but equally things can turn around.”

On Friday, the major indexes rose following an optimistic jobs report. It reported that the unemployment rate fell from 3.8% to 3.6%, approaching the pre-pandemic rate of 3.5%. It also noted employers added over 400,000 jobs in March, marking 11 consecutive monthly gains above 400,000, the longest job growth stretch since 1939.

Stocks continued their ascent into Monday, led by technology stocks, pushing the Nasdaq up 1.9%. Most notably, shares of Twitter Inc. surged 27% following a statement by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk that he held a 9.2% stake in the social network service as of March 14. The announcement helped Twitter add $8.53 billion in market value, its largest single-day gain.

Overall, given the global macroeconomic uncertainty, equity markets seem to be performing relatively strong. Considering that inflation continues to be a daunting topic for many investors, it is expected going forward that investors will maintain a sharp focus on indicators of rising energy and commodity prices, and any telling statements from the Federal Reserve.