Warm weather, Improving economy & Attention on Spain

Our Two Cents – Week of 3/12/12

We certainly felt spring-like temperatures in Massachusetts last week, and the weather is only going to improve this week. Let’s hope the currency markets faired just as well as Boston’s March warm-up.

In the U.S., the economy added 227,000 net jobs in February, the third consecutive month of gains more than 200,000. It’s another sign of the country’s strengthening economic recovery, which many Americans say they’re starting to see. According to a new Associated Press survey, there is more optimism about U.S. jobs and the economy. Findings show that the economy is moving faster than economists predicted, with anticipated unemployment rates dropping to 7.4 percent (down from the earlier estimated 7.8 percent) by the end of 2013.

For Europe, developments in the eurozone continue to receive much of the headlines. Finance ministers will sign off Greece’s second bailout package after the country swapped privately bonds, which slashed more than $100 billion euros from its debt. The swap enabled eurozone officials to OK the 130-billion-euro package to finance Athens until 2014. Finance ministers will next turn their attention to Spain because the country missed its 2011 budget deficit target.

In alternative investments, more hedge funds managers are tapping exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Financial officials say one of the reasons for this trend is because ETFs allow hedge funds to protect their trades or preserve anonymity while investing. For hedge funds, investments are off to their best start since 2000, up 4.07 percent on the year after bouncing back from a depressed performance in 2011. In February, hedge funds rose 1.31 percent, according to the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Index.



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