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Cyprus Secures Bailout; S&P Hits New High

Market Digest – Week Ending 3/28

Capital Markets Overview:

The S&P 500 used the last trading day to reach double digit gains for the quarter and hit its first new all-time high since 2007. Investor fears abated when Cyprus secured a bailout by shutting down its second largest bank and imposing losses on deposits above 100,000 EUR. Cypriot banks reopened Thursday with relative calm, though capital controls will be required for some time and GDP is expected to plummet. US housing prices posted higher than expected yearly increases.

Weekly Returns:

S&P 500: 1,569 (+0.8%)

MSCI ACWI ex-US: (+0.0%)

US 10 Year Treasury Yield: 1.85% (-0.06%)

Gold: $1,597 (-0.6%)

USD/EUR: $1.282 (-1.3%)

Major Events:

  • Monday – Cyprus reached a deal to secure €10 billion to finance its government. The country will shut its second largest bank and impose steep losses on deposits above the insured amount of €100,000.
  • Monday – Dell board members reviewed a Blackstone proposal as a potential alternative to the $24 billion take-private offer from Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell.
  • Monday – The Spanish government announced it will impose heavy losses on bondholders and shareholders of nationalized banks.
  • Tuesday – The Supreme Court began hearings on gay marriage, appearing divided and potentially regretful they took the case.
  • Tuesday – The Case-Shiller Index of US home prices rose by 8.1% in January from a year earlier, the largest such gain in over six years.
  • Tuesday – North Korean state media said the country’s rocket and artillery units are on “highest alert”, but South Korea said it saw no movement indicative of an attack.
  • Thursday – Italian President Giorgio Napolitano took charge of the search for the next Prime Minister after Pier Luigi Bersani failed to assemble a majority.
  • Friday – The US stock markets will be closed for Good Friday.

Our Take:

The waters feel calm, but they were anything but during the 1,632 days since the last S&P 500 peak. Since then, our financial system peered into the abyss, the S&P 500 hit a low of 666 (yes, really), and millions of families were forced to reconsider their financial future. It was an emotional experience for everyone with investable assets, and it profoundly altered a national mindset acquired during the roaring bull markets of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Today’s new high water mark was met with trepidation, not jubilation. That’s a good thing. Bull markets love to climb a wall of worry. Another strong earnings season could easily translate to another big quarter.

No one knows for sure the consequences of the massively accommodative Fed policy, but there is a good chance it starts to create bigger waves sometime this year – especially in the bond markets. Happy sailing.

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