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Dollar Strengthens as Markets Close the Week Up

By: , dated February 6th, 2015

The Dow finished up this week despite a flat Wednesday and losses on Friday. All told, the market gained 3.84% over 5 days, starting the week at 17,165.26 and ending it at 17,824.29. It was a similar story for the NASDAQ, which rose 2.36% on the week and closed at 4,744.40. The S&P 500 was up 3.03% this week and finished trading at 2,055.47. Overseas markets were essentially flat, although both London’s FTSE and Germany’s DAX posted gains of over 1.00%. Japan’s Nikkei rallied after big losses early in the week to close at 17,648.50 for a loss of just -0.15 over 5 days.

Oil Ends the Week Over $50 After spending the past 5 days dancing around $50, crude oil futures closed the week at 52.34 per barrel. Other energy commodities followed suit, with natural gas rising to $2.57 per million BTUs, heating oil closing at $1.85 per gallon, and the price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline rising to $2.58. All of this could point to better news for America’s energy sector, which has been damaged to the point of layoffs by the falling cost of oil and gas. Whether or not this will have a major impact on the growing pace of the rest of the economy remains to be seen, although consumers would clearly prefer to keep gas prices where they are.

Retail Sector Posts Solid Gains The retail sector has been, without a doubt, the biggest winner of the week. Some of the biggest successes within the sector have been seasonal, with companies like Boot Barn (BOOT) up 20.61% over 5 days. Burlington Stores Inc (BURL) has also seen a spike in seasonal sales, packing on 4.81% this week as Americans look to warm up in the midst of a colder than average winter. Discount chain Big Lots (BIG) continued a pattern of growth, piling on another 3.64% this week and pushing YTD share prices up 18.89%.

Tech is Mixed, with Big Winners and Losers Tech giant Google (GOOG) finished the week essentially flat, losing -0.66% after missing Q4 earnings targets. Onlines sales site Amazon (AMZN) gained 5.57% over 5 days, thanks to surges on Monday and Thursday. Growth for Apple (AAPL) quieted slightly after a record-breaking earnings report last week, although the device maker still added a respectable 1.51%. One of the week’s biggest losers, travel website Expedia (EXPE) plunged -11.51% on Friday after the company made public that it would miss earnings forecasts because of a strengthening dollar which impacts overseas profits.

Health Services and Consumer Durables Both Up Business in the health services and consumer durables sectors had a good week, with both sectors rising as the consumer economy continues to recover. Developer William Lyon Homes (WLH) lead the pack in consumer durables, with share prices up 12.16% over 5 days. In health services, Air Methods Corp. (AIRM) was up 14.78% to close the week at 47.69.

Airlines Having a Rough Year Delta (DAL), American Airlines (AAL), and Virgin America (VA), all continued to struggle despite cheap gas and a recovering consumer economy. The airlines’ share prices have all plunged so far this year, with Virgin America losing -20.39% YTD, Delta down -7.48%, and American Airlines falling -10.23%. Over the course of this week, American Airlines (AAL) has dropped -1.91%, Delta (DAL) fell -3.80, and Virgin America (VA) recovered slightly, adding 2.65% over 5 days.

The US Dollar Strengthens, Gold Dips The Dollar continued to pick up steam this week, gaining 1.60% against the Canadian Dollar, 1.08% versus the British Pound, and 0.98% against the Mexican Peso. A rally by Japan’s Nikkei and the improving financial outlook for the island drove the Japanese Yen up 1.43% against the US Dollar. Yields on a 10-year treasury note also rose this week, up over 0.20% to finish at 1.94%. The price of gold was down over $50 on the week, dropping to $1233.30 per troy ounce by the end of the day on Friday from midday highs of $1285.03 on Monday.

Aaron Phillips is a freelance writer and journalist based in Mid-Michigan. He writes the daily market commentary and weekly market roundup for investorguide.com.

Copyrighted 2015. Content published with author's permission.

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