Market commentary, 1st Quarter 2016


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The U.S. stock market (S&P 500) finished the quarter up 1.35% after a strong March offset negative returns in January and February. Developed international equity markets were down on concerns about slowing economic growth and the effects of prolonged negative rates in Europe and Japan. Emerging markets were up as falling commodity prices, particularly oil, staged a nice turnaround. The Fed, noting the weakness of economic growth abroad, deferred further rate increases to later in the year. For the quarter, stock funds had a net outflow of $5.1 billion while bond funds had a net inflow of $16.4 billion, Total money market mutual fund assets increased by $7 billion to $2.739 trillion. The unemployment rate held steady at 5%. The price of oil rose slightly from $37 per barrel to $38, while gold rose from $1,061 an ounce to $1,232 an ounce, a 16% increase in the quarter.