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Stock Market News for May 20, 2013

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Positive investor sentiment towards encouraging economic data released throughout last week ensured that major indices posted record gains on Friday. The day was also marked by major corporate developments and profits booked by energy and industrial stocks. Meanwhile, the Euro Zone had a sliver of positive news after car registrations for April increased marginally. All the top ten S&P 500 industry groups finished in the green, among which energy stocks outperformed others.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (:DJI) gained 0.8% to close the day at 15,354.40. The S&P 500 increased 1.0% to finish Friday’s trading session at 1,666.12. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.0% to end at 3,498.97. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (:VIX) dropped 4.8% to settle at 12.45. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 6.33 billion shares, marginally below 2013’s average of 6.36 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For the 68% that advanced, 28% declined.

Benchmarks posted gained for the fourth week in a row. The Federal Reserve’s monetary stimulus coupled with strong corporate earnings and encouraging domestic data fuelled the rally. The Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have advanced 17.2%, 16.8% and 15.9%, respectively since the start of 2013. This week, the Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 2.0%, 1.5% and 1.7%, respectively. In comparison with level which was prevailing during March 2009, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 1000 points. A removal of monetary stimulus might curb U.S. economic growth in the second quarter. However, markets seem to be buoyant thanks to encouraging retail sales and job market numbers.

On the domestic front, according to a report, released by Thomson Reuters and University of Michigan, the consumer confidence index in May improved to 83.7, above the consensus estimate of 77.6 and previous month’s reading of 76.4. Meanwhile, another report released by the Conference Board, indicated an improvement in the Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April. The index increased 0.6% compared to a marginal decline during the previous month.

Major components of this index are building permits, initial claims, average work week in manufacturing and ISM new orders. For the six months ending April 2013, the index has improved 1.7% compared to 0.5% during previous six months. The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (:CEI) improved marginally 0.1%. However, for the six months ending April 2013, the index advanced at much faster pace of 1.3% compared to 0.4% in the previous six months.

On the international front, according to figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, new car registrations for the month of April increased marginally for the first time in 19 months, by 1.7%. The increase is attributable to growth in Spain and Germany. This report comes after the Euro Zone slipped into recession for the first quarter. Germany’s Volkswagen gained 2% out of 27% market share in Europe, compared to April 2012. Car sales have slumped in the recession hit Euro Zone mainly because of low income and high unemployment.

Energy stocks were the biggest gainers. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) gained 1.7%. Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) and Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC) increased 1.2%, 0.5%, 0.8%, 2.0% and 5.3%, respectively.

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