Yesterday was a day of strong performances for many stock markets. The gains started in Asia, as Bloomberg reports.
Asian stocks gained the most in five weeks...
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 3.1 percent to 140.21 as of 7:41 p.m. in Tokyo, its largest increase since Feb. 14 and a third day of gains. All 10 industry groups rose, with a measure of financial shares advancing 3.7 percent to a three-week high.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 2.1 percent to 12,745.22. The S&P/ASX 200 Index surged 3.7 percent in Australia, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 6.4 percent. Both markets were closed for Easter holidays, during which the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rallied 4 percent in the U.S.
Reuters reports that stock markets in Europe followed.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 3.2 percent higher at 1,266.03 points, narrowing its losses so far this year to 16 percent...
The DJ Stoxx technology index was the best sectoral performer with a rise of 6.4 percent as Nokia's leap late in the session gave a boost that helped offset an earlier Morgan Stanley downgrade of the sector to "underweight" from "neutral"...
Around Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 both rose 3.5 percent while Germany's DAX and Switzerland's SMI both gained 3.2 percent.
But the US market, which had triggered the latest rally, took a breather. Bloomberg reports:
The S&P 500 added 3.11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,352.99 and climbed 4.2 percent over the past three days. The Dow lost 16.04, or 0.1 percent, to 12,532.6. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 14.3, or 0.6 percent, to 2,341.05. Two stocks gained for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Weak economic data released yesterday didn't help the mood in the US stock market. Bloomberg reports:
The Conference Board's confidence index fell to 64.5, a five-year low, from a revised 76.4 in February, the New York- based research group said today...
The Conference Board's gauge of expectations for the next six months slumped to 47.9, the lowest since December 1973, when the Watergate scandal rocked the Nixon administration and an embargo by a group of Arab oil exporters was in effect, the report showed...
Home prices in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas fell in January by the most on record, a sign the housing recession is deepening, a private survey also showed today. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index dropped 10.7 percent from January 2007, after a 9 percent decrease in December. The gauge has fallen for 13 consecutive months.
But Mark Hulbert uses poor sentiment to argue for a bottom in the stock market.
... Though the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now more than 800 points higher than it was at that low, the mood among stock market timing investment newsletters remains almost as pessimistic now as it was then.
That suggests a stubbornly held bearishness among the editors of stock market timing newsletters. That in turns means that there is precisely the kind of wall of worry that strong rallies like to climb.