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April Showers

The global stock-market recovery that defined early 2019 extended into April. Major developed markets, including the U.S., U.K., Europe and Japan, climbed steadily throughout the month. Emerging markets also gained, but performance diverged in China, with Hong Kong slightly higher and mainland stocks essentially flat after a late-month selloff. Intermediate- and long-term government bond rates generally increased in the U.S., U.K. and eurozone, while short-term rates were mixed, resulting in steeper yield curves. Oil prices advanced for the full month, but peaked in late April before retreating a bit.

Recently, SEI Private Trust Company published their April Monthly Market Commentary entitled, “April Showers More Gains on Equities,” which we thought would be of interest.

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At the end of a busy week for earnings, investors are taking stock of both good and bad corporate surprises and parsing the details of the first-quarter gross domestic product report. U.S. GDP expanded at a 3.2 percent annualized rate in the January-March period, according to Commerce Department data Friday that topped all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. However, underlying demand was softer than the headline number indicated, with weak consumer spending and a gauge of inflation coming in below policy makers’ target.

Recently, SEI Private Trust Company published their Quarterly Market Commentary entitled, “Markets Rebound Around the Globe,” which we thought would be of interest.

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In the 1979 movie Being There, which is based on Jerzy Kosinski’s book of the same name, Peter Sellers stars as a simple-minded gardener named Chance. Following the death of his employer and guardian, Chance is kicked out of the Washington, DC, townhouse he has called home for his entire life and forced to aimlessly wander the streets. He can neither read nor write. His only education and contact with the outside world have been through television. He is eventually befriended by a wealthy industrialist and political insider who thinks Chance is a highly educated businessman merely down on his luck. Chance the gardener (now mistakenly known as Chauncey Gardiner) becomes an instant sensation on the Georgetown cocktail circuit. His remarks are simplistic and literal, and mostly refer to gardening. Yet everyone over-interprets his simple sayings, imbuing them with deep allegorical meaning.

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“The U.S. economy isn’t likely to slip into recession anytime soon, and there is no reason for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates,” former Fed Chair Janet Yellen said. Speaking to an investor conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, Yellen said that while Fed officials had marked down their economic growth forecasts to a median of 2.1 percent for 2019, “that’s not a recession. A slowdown is something that was long expected.”

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