Despite a slide on New Year’s Eve, a Santa Claus rally lifted the US stock market to a respectable return for the quarter. This was despite two slumps in October and December, with October flirting with the 10% “correction” level before investors came back into the market to buy on the dip.
The US stock market traded in a range of a few percentage points for the quarter, hitting new highs but then settling down a bit and still closing with its seventh consecutive quarterly gain. International stocks slid on concerns about slowing growth in China as well as the ongoing strife in Ukraine, which contributed to the euro weakening against the dollar.
Global stock markets eked out somewhat better gains than in the first quarter, with the Dow and the S&P 500 hitting a series of incremental all-time highs. Interest rates continued to drift back lower.
After a very strong 2013, and the typical minor ups and downs, the major market indices were close to flat for the first quarter, before dividends. The primary index for developed country international stocks, MSCI Europe, Asia and Far East (EAFE), was exactly flat.