It was a mixed picture heading into the weekend for global markets. Asian markets including Japan's NIKKEI 225 (INDEX: ^N225) and the Hang Seng (INDEX: ^HSI ) saw respective losses of 0.31% and 0.26% earlier in the day. However, after Asian markets closed, the picture was much brighter in Europe and America. The FTSE 100 (INDEX: ^FTSE ) inched up 0.46% while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) saw a similar 0.44% gain.
Let's check in on some of the week's major storylines.
A breather, but the market rally rolls on
Even with the blaring headlines over the past few weeks asking whether the global recovery is over amid varying reports that demand in China is weakening, the global rally continued. As we complete the first quarter, the gains in some indexes are truly spectacular.
Source: S&P Capital IQ.
While growth concerns in Asia have dominated the news cycle, those markets have rallied across the year. It's still Europe where investors remain the most concerned.
Overall, though, market gains this quarter are impressive all arond the globe. The Dow Jones had its best quarter since 1998, while you have to go all the way back to 1991 to find a better quarter for the Nasdaq. With a 21.8 P/E, the Nasdaq definitely isn't "cheap" anymore, but it's still nowhere near the nauseating P/E levels seen during the technology bubble of the late '90s.
Volatility tries creeping back
One of the truly amazing stock market storylines this year, aside from the rise in major indexes such as the S&P 500, is the utter lack of "wild markets" we've all become accustomed to. This week, the so called "fear index," the Volatility S&P 500 (INDEX: ^VIX ) , spiked back midday on both Wednesday and Thursday but ultimately fell back sharply before the close. The really intriguing part of this early 2012 rally is the small, consistent moves northward that the market has been making. So far this year, the Dow has been up or down more than 1% in less than one out of every 10 trading days. Last year, that number was one in three trading days.
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