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Stock markets have their best first quarter in over 10 years

Stocks ended the week with big gains. The first quarter of 2019 marked the largest percentage quarterly gain in a decade.

The S&P 500 ended the quarter up over 13%. It’s just 3% off its all-time high after a dramatic rebound from being down almost 20% from its all-time high in mid-December. Investors have celebrated lower interest rates, optimism on trade with China, low unemployment, and low inflation. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 25,928.68, up 1.7% from25,502.32 last week. It’s up 11.2% year-to-date. 

The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,834.40, up 1.2% from 2,800.71 last week. It is up 13.1% year-to-date. 

The NASDAQ closed the week at 7,729.32, up 1.1% from 7,642.67 last week. The NASDAQ is up 16.5% year-to-date. 

Treasury bond yields continue to drop

The 10-year treasury bond closed the week yielding 2.41%, down from 2.44% last week. The 30-year treasury bond yield ended the week at 2.81%, down from 2.88% last week. We watch treasury bond yields because mortgage rates follow bond yields. 

30-year mortgage rates hit lowest levels since 2017

The March 28, 2019, Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate average was 4.06%, down from 4.28% last week. The 15-year fixed was 3.57%, down from 3.71% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.75%, down from 3.84% last week.

Stock market terms defined

  • ARM – “A 5-year ARM is a loan with a fixed rate for the first five years. After that, it has an adjustable rate.” (LendingTree.com
  • Down Jones Industrial Average – “An index that tracks 30 large, publicly-owned companies trading on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ.” (Investopedia.com)
  • Federal Reserve System – “Often referred to as the Federal Reserve or simply “the Fed,” is the central bank of the United States. It was created by Congress to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.” (FederalReserve.gov)
  • Freddie Mac – (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation or FHLMC) “A government-owned corporation that buys mortgages and packages them into mortgage-backed securities.” (TheBalance.com)
  • Mortgage – “An agreement that allows you to borrow money from a bank or similar organization (such as a credit union) by offering something of value, esp. in order to buy a house or apartment” (Cambridge Dictionary
  • NASDAQ – Acronym for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. “A global electronic marketplace for buying and selling securities, as well as the benchmark index for U.S. technology stocks.” (Investopedia.com)
  • S&P 500 – “The S&P 500 index is a basket of 500 of the largest U.S. stocks, weighted by market capitalization. The index is widely considered to be the best indicator of how large U.S. stocks are performing on a day-to-day basis.” (Motley Fool)
  • Stock market – “The stock market is where investors buy and sell shares in public companies.” (NerdWallet.com)
  • Treasury bond yield – “Treasury yields are the total amount of money you earn by owning U.S. Treasury bills, notes, or bonds. The U.S. Treasury Department sells them to pay for the U.S. debt. … Treasury yield prices are based on supply and demand.” (The Balance.com)

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