March was solid month. The results for March were: Dow +0.02%, the S&P 500 +1.8% and the NASDAQ was +2.8%. Since the highs in the Fall 2018, the Dow is still down 0.09% the S&P500 down 2.24% and the NASDAQ is down 3.06%. Three solid months have occurred, nonetheless, and a fourth likely to be forthcoming in April. Year to date, the DOW is up +13.08%, the S&P up +15.01% and the NASDAQ has gained +19.88%
Economically, we still see no factors which suggest the overall expansion is ending. GDP was positive in March and remains at an annualized +2.5% rate according to Kiplinger; inflation remains muted at the FED target of just under 2%, but is starting to slightly accelerate as tightness in the labor market is tending to push wages higher. Value Line is more conservative and feels GDP growth for 2019 will be 1.5-2% and inflation at 2.2%. Consumer confidence, as well as business and consumer spending remain positive, although some lessening is beginning to appear. Jobs are still being created and corporate earnings are very strong. The “Tariff Wars” continue to subside, and the trade gap narrowed significantly in March again. Rate changes in the next eight months are unlikely. The FED seems committed to a cautious, data-driven policy process.
As we enter April, we feel that this will be another positive month, with strength the first three weeks and weakness in week four. April has been the best DOW month since 1950, and has been up for thirteen straight years. The historic probabilities are 68% for the Dow to be positive, and 71% for the S&P; the NASDAQ probability is 64%, and the probability for the smaller capitalization Russell 2000 is 62%. Things will start to slow down over the summer. A slowdown is not bad just normal. We see major political problems becoming less disruptive despite a split Congress, however, there will remain unsymmetrical cross-currents which will result in some volatility during periods of market weakness.