U.S. equities started the week strong, recovering from losses last week and were able to withstand pullbacks in the following trading days to end the week positive. Earnings estimates for the first quarter have been revised down and are expected to show negative growth based on last year’s levels.
Economic data for the U.S. economy continues to suggest weakness, save for a few bright spots. The March jobs report showed 126,000 new jobs for the month of March, about 50% of what economists had expected.
Chinese economic data has also sparked concern. PMI indicators and manufacturing levels both fell according to recent reports. Markets are increasingly expecting stimulus, pushing equities higher, based upon rhetoric from Chinese leaders.
Europe remains one of the few sources around the world providing positive economic data, albeit overcoming low standards. Consumer confidence and PMI indicators, among others, have stopped their downward trends of 2014.
While European data offers some encouragement the drama surrounding Greece continues to cast a dark cloud over the Continent. Greece has a payment due to the IMF on April 9th and there is not a clear certainty it will be able to meet the payment. Missing the IMF dues could spark defaults on other debt according to reports.
The dollar continues to strengthen, especially against currencies of emerging markets. Nations like Brazil and Turkey have seen sharp pressure on the real and lira respectively. Australia’s dollar has reached its lowest point since 2009 as well, thanks to weakness in commodities.
A deal between the world’s main nuclear powers and the nation of Iran offers a new source of pressure for energy markets going forward. A removal of sanctions could put Iranian oil on the market, adding to growing global supply.