April Roundup: US Shares, Oil Star

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

April has gone and for financial markets, it was a moderately successful month – in the US, another record breaker.

Commodities were weak to solid (for oil and iron ore)

The key global benchmark, the S&P 500 eked out another record high close on Tuesday and capped its best four-months in nearly nine years with a gain of 17.5% from the end of December and more from the lows of late December.

The Dow rose 2.6% in April, the S&P 500 added 3.9% and the Nasdaq added 4.9%.

In Australia, the ASX 200 was up 1.75% and is up just over 12% year to date.

The yield on 10 year US treasury bonds peaked at just under $2.60% last month before closing at $2.502%. That was still a touch higher than the start of April when they were around 2.47%.

The Aussie dollar started April around 70.70 US cents and ended it at 70.50.

But for losses on Monday and Tuesday of this week, the ASX 200 would have been up closer to 2.7% for the month.

European markets were generally higher – up 1.6% as measured by the Stoxx 600 Index with Germany’s Dax jumping 5% and France’s CAC Index by 3%.

In Asia the Nikkei in Tokyo rose 4.9% over April, the Hang Seng in hong kong though could only manage a rise of less than half a percent, while the Shanghai index lost 0.4%, thanks to the 5.6% fall on April 26.

That was the first monthly fall this year and is in very stark contrast to the world beating 24% surge in the March quarter. The Chinese markets have cooled rather rapidly.

Looking at just April in commodities, iron ore (as measured by the Metal Bulletin Index for 62% ore) rose to $US94.17 a tonne from $US84.68 a tonne at the end of March.

That was a rise of 11% and came despite improving news from Vale, the big Brazilian iron ore miner about its 2019 production targets in the wake of the January 25 dam walls disaster. Vale is due to release its quarterly production and financial reports next week.

Comex gold lost 1% for the month, Comex copper shed 1.2% and silver also fell, down 1.4%. But platinum jumped a solid 4.7%, while palladium was up nearly 2.9% but that could have been much higher but for a 5.9% slump on Monday of this week.

Oil starred with a 6.3% jump for the US standard, West Texas Intermediate, while Brent crude added 6.5% in April. Both crude types are now around their highest levels for six months.

OPEC will have to decide whether to keep the production cap agreement it has with Russia (around 1 million barrels a day) or scrap it, and look to be giving in to pressure from Donald Trump whose crackdown on Iran has been responsible for much of the recent rise – especially the ending of sales exemptions on May for Iran’s 8 major customers (Including China, India, Jaan and South Korea).

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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