The Week on Wall Street
Major U.S. stock benchmarks eked out slight gains last week, with corporate profit reports and news about U.S.-China trade negotiations vying for investor attention over five trading sessions.
The big three ended the week little changed from where they settled the previous Friday. The Dow Jones Industrials rose 0.17% percent, while the S&P 500 Index gained 0.05% percent. The NASDAQ Composite ended the week up 0.47%. Looking at international stocks, the MSCI EAFE index retreated 0.47%.1,2
Last week closed out one of stocks’ top January performances in years. In fact, both the S&P 500 and Dow posted their best January results in at least 3 decades. For the week, major domestic indexes were also up. The S&P 500 gained 1.57%, the Dow added 1.32%, and the NASDAQ increased 1.38%. The Dow’s performance marked its 6th week of gains in a row. Internationally, MSCI EAFE stocks also posted growth, rising 0.91%.
For the first time in months, U.S. markets experienced little movement last week. The Dow and NASDAQ did have their 5th week of gains in a row, but their increases were small: 0.12% and 0.11%, respectively. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 broke its 4-week winning streak with a 0.22% loss.  Internationally, the MSCI EAFE also posted modest returns, gaining 0.47% for the week. 
What topics were on investors’ minds?
Despite the relative lack of market drama last week, investors still had plenty to consider. For example, the following details emerged:
- Conflicting messages came out on trade tension with China.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its forecast for global growth.
- Corporate earnings season continued.
After months of volatility, markets relaxed a bit last week. For the first time since October, the S&P 500 went 5 days without a 1% gain or loss. The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, also fell to lower than 20—in December, it spiked above 35.
For the week, the S&P 500 added 2.54%, the Dow gained 2.40%, and the NASDAQ increased 3.45%. All three indexes are in positive territory for 2019. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE grew as well, with a 2.85% weekly gain.
What drove last week’s gains?
Updates on trade and monetary policy contributed to investor decisions, yet again.
U.S. markets experienced more wild sessions last week before ending in positive territory as the recent turbulence continued. In fact, we are currently in the middle of some of the most volatile market performance in more than eight years. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.86%, the Dow added 1.61%, and the NASDAQ increased 2.34%. MSCI EAFE stocks also increased, posting a 1.42% weekly gain.
While the results may not seem especially dramatic, the path to get there certainly was. On Thursday, January 3, domestic stocks plunged, as factory data and a tech warning spooked investors. Then, the next day, the S&P 500, Dow, and NASDAQ each gained at least 3.3%. Friday’s performance marked one of the largest rallies since the beginning of this bull market.