Southie parade, Jobless claims & Eurozone surplus

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/19/12

There’s nothing better than warm spring weather in Boston. It’s even better when the financial markets are performing just as upbeat as South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In the U.S., fiscal optimism resounded as economic confidence hit a four-year high, according to a recent Gallup poll. The good news stemmed mostly from last week’s U.S. jobless claims, which adjusted to about 351,000. Other indexes—and commentary—illustrated the nation’s strengthening economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for February and the latest Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board both posted their highest readings in a year. U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said the country’s economy continues to show signs of expansion.

In the eurozone, its current-account surplus surged in January to its highest level in almost five years. Greece’s Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the country was more than halfway on the road to economy recovery, optimistic about achieving positive growth rates within less than two years. Officials also formally stamped Greece’s second bailout, hoping the 130-billion-euro package will provide the country with enough aid until 2014-15.

For hedge funds, investments saw healthy inflows as they advanced 2.10 percent in March, according to GlobeOp Financial Services. As inflows increased, the number of hedge funds last year swelled to the highest level since 2007. The number of new hedge funds totaled 1,113 in 2011, according to fund tracker Hedge Fund Research. Also, the RBC Hedge 250 Index returned 1.25 percent for the month of February, bringing its year-to-date return to 2.96 percent.

 

 

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