Market Beat: First quarter best for stocks in long time
TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; The first quarter of 2012 was the best quarter for the stock market in 14 years. The last year in which the first quarter performed better than this year was in 1998, when the Sandamp;P 500 was up 13.5 percent.The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 8 percent, the Sandamp;P 500 closed the quarter up 12 percent and the tech heavy NASDAQ rose almost 19 percent. The NASDAQandamp;#8217;s gain was the best in more than 20 years, going back to 1991. Also, every month this year has seen a gain for the Sandamp;P 500 of at least 3 percent and according to Forbes that has not occurred once in at least the last sixty years.Energy stocks were the best performing industry group in the Sandamp;P 500, and nine out of ten industry groups posted a gain. Bank of America was the best performing stock in the Sandamp;P 500 posting a quarterly gain of 71 percent. Apple computer had a strong showing with a 51 percent gain.Forbes studied some market data going back the last thirty years to see what happened in the past after the market had a strong first quarter showing. The best first quarter in the last 30 years was in 1987 when the market was up 20.5 percent for the quarter; the rest of the year it was down -15.30 percent, and 1987 was the year that Black Monday happened on October 19th. On Black Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22.61 percent in one day.The other three years where the market performed better than it did this year were 1986, 1991 and 1998. In each of those years the market posted a positive return for the remainder of the year following the remarkable first quarter performance.Looking ahead, the market will be focused on the first quarterandamp;#8217;s earnings reports which will start on April 10th with Alcoa and on the usual slew of economic data. The Labor Department will release the monthly jobs report on April 6, which is a market holiday for Good Friday.According to a survey by Bloomberg News, the report should show that 203,000 jobs were added for the month. The first quarter earnings reports are forecast to soften a little from the previous quartersandamp;#8217; strong results.Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee based Registered Investment Advisor. Information on his money management service can be found at http://www.fusiontargetretirement.com or by calling 775-657-8065. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial adviser before purchasing any security.