Ending on a down note, stock markets closed the month mixed. Large company stocks lost part of their gains but small company stocks were flat all month before dropping at the end. The S&P closed April up 1% while the Russell 2000 (small company stock index) was down 2%. Year to date major stock indices are positive, up 1.5% on average.
Domestic markets await word from the Federal Reserve on the first interest rate increase since June of 2006. Although the anticipated 0.25% increase seems tiny, the effect on markets is enhanced because it is coming from zero. A delay in the rate hike means that stocks continue to climb, postponing a correction for now. The best scenario for stocks would be a rate increase announced as a onetime event with no subsequent hikes scheduled. Meanwhile Asian economies are stirring with a strong month and international stocks have rebounded this year.
Looking for May to bring some catch-up to our tardy spring – at least the snow is gone. A healthy looking red fox gave a squirrel some exercise across the yard this morning. Both cleared the six-foot back fence with ease. Surviving the hard winter has made nature bolder. We are all primed for some easier living.