Broad market benchmarks in the US finished little-changed in the fortnight without new catalysts to push the market higher. Pro-EU Emmanuel Macron’s closely-watched victory in the French presidential election came in as expected, which calmed investors’ anxiety of a potentially unsettling Eurozone.
Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the fortnight 0.3 percent lower at 20,919.42 while the S&P 500 climbed 0.2 percent to close at 2,394.44. On the other hand, the Nasdaq Composite continues to mark new high buoyed by solid earnings of technology shares closing at 6,129.14 on 10 May. Over the last two weeks, the tech-heavy index rose 1.1 percent to finish at 6,115.96.
Looking at the commodities markets, oil price went on a wild ride during the fortnight by first plunging more than four percent on 4 May as unusually high US oil inventories and rebound in shale drilling rekindled concerns of a persistent glut, followed by a sharp rebound to above US$50 per barrel on 10 May after US government data reported a large drop in US crude stockpiles and higher gasoline demand. Meanwhile, spot gold held steady above US$1,200 an ounce after US Federal Reserve concluded its two-day meeting in May leaving interest rates unchanged.
Asian markets exhibited remarkable strength following the unsurprising French election result as well as better-than-expected US April jobs report. Japan’s Nikkei hit a 16-month high on 11 May at 19,961.55, just 38 points shy of the 20,000 psychological level. The index ended the fortnight surging 3.6 percent to close at 19,883.90. Likewise, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index broke 25,000 on 10 May and finished the fortnight advancing 2.2 percent to close at 25,156.34. Shanghai Composite Index, however, fell 2.3 percent to close at 3,083.51 amid weak economic data and tightening restrictions on home purchases as well as financial market leveraging.
On the local front, Singapore’s Strait Times Index (STI) stood firm above the 3,200 mark after first breaking the resistance on 2 May, underpinned by outstanding first quarter results from the local banks. Over the last two weeks, STI saw a 2.5 percent jump to end the fortnight at 3,255.29. In addition, April’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped 0.1 point from 51.2 in March to 51.1 but nonetheless, the index remained expansionary above the 50-point threshold.