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Prieur Perspective: Market Running Out of Steam?

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But global economy still making its way back from the abyss.

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Ups and downs on financial markets were plentiful during the past week, but investor sentiment, on balance, brightened on the back of constructive financial and economic data - capped by a better-than-expected US non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Rebecca Wilder (News N Economics) said in her weekly review of global economic reports:

"It appears that the global economy has finally found the ripcord. The global economic reports are becoming saturated with signs of forming a bottom. Auto sales in Japan and the US are improving somewhat; exports are dangling in the double-digit loss rates; and GDP really couldn't get much worse (the inventory cycle alone will create some growth). Finally, money growth rates are slowing, perhaps an indication that policymakers feel that the worst is behind us."

As the risk appetite of investors swelled on the prospect that the global economy was on the mend, many stock markets reached their highest levels this year, and metals and oil continued their surge. After trending down since early March, the US dollar snapped back on the employment data, but government bonds tanked as yields rose to 6-month highs. Interbank lending rates edged down, whereas corporate bond spreads touched their lowest levels since October. Gold and silver -- strong performers in recent times -- took a breather, but platinum gained strongly from better vehicle sales in many parts of the world.

The week's performance of the major asset classes is summarized by the chart below.



The MSCI World Index (+1.3%) and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (+1.8%) last week added to the rally's gains to take the year-to-date returns to +6.7% and a massive +38.8% respectively. Both these indices have only had one down-week since the advance commenced in early March.

The major US indices gained for a third straight week -- and for the eleventh week out of the past 13 -- as seen from the movements of the indices: S&P 500 Index (+2.3%, YTD +4.1%), Dow Jones Industrial Index (+3.1%, YTD 0.2%), NASDAQ Composite Index (+4.2%, YTD +17.3%) and Russell 2000 Index (+5.7%, YTD +6.2%).

The Dow remains the only major index still in the red for the year to date, albeit only by 0.2%, trailing the NASDAQ (+17.3%) by a wide margin.



As far as non-US markets are concerned, returns ranged from top performers Vietnam (+16.3%), Serbia (+12.0%), Qatar (+10.9%), Egypt (+10.2%) and the Czech Republic (+10.0%), to Ghana (-8.7%), Cyprus (-5.6%), Pakistan (- 5.3%), Croatia (-5.0%) and Estonia (-3.7%), which experienced headwinds. (Click here to access a complete list of global stock market movements, as supplied by Emerginvest.)

John Nyaradi (Wall Street Sector Selector) reports that as far as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are concerned, the "ETF of the Month" was PowerShares India Portfolio (PIN), which gained a whopping +32.5% during May. The leaders for the week included Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy (TAN) (+10.9%), Market Vectors Coal (KOL) (+9.4%) and United States Oil (USL) (+7.0%). Poor performers were again all things "short," with notable laggards being ProShares Short Russell 2000 (RWM) (-7.8%), ProShares Short QQQ (PSQ) (-5.1%) and ProShares Short Dow30 (DOG) -5.4%.

The higher Treasury yields had a further negative impact on mortgage rates, with the 30-year fixed rate increasing by 19 basis points to 5.46% on the week and the 15-year fixed rate by 15 basis points to 5.02%, as indicated by Bankrate.com.

"That's quite a jump," said Donald Rissmiller, chief economist at New York-based Strategas Research Partners, in a Bloomberg interview. "The more rates go up, the more we need home prices to go down to equalize consumers' payments. It's those payments that have brought about a level of stability in housing unit sales." Policymakers might be forced to increase their Treasury buy-backs.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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