The last two days of trading have been the worst since August 5th and 6th of last year. They have taken the blue-chip index to its lowest level in five months.  What changed so drastically in the last few days?  The economy was growing, but not so fast as to worry the inflation-guardians at the Federal Reserve; interest rates were holding steady, even falling a bit; and corporate profit margins were still fat enough to absorb some unforeseen shocks, like oil remaining above $50.00 a barrel for an extended period. 

The market’s bounce in February was not enough to overcome the declines in January and March sending all of the major equity indices down for the quarter.  The Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 each declined 2.1% while the NASDAQ fell almost 8%.  Bond indices didn’t fare much better as the Lehman 1-3 Year, the 7-10 Year, and the 20 Plus Year indices declined by .3%, .9%, and 1.6%, respectively.  Our models performed in line with their respective benchmarks for the quarter. 

There’s a stock market axiom that says, as January goes, so goes the year.  According to Bloomberg, since 1950, the S&P 500 has moved in the same direction during the year as it did in the first week 73% of the time.  The S&P 500's drop so far this year marks its worst start since 1990, when it fell 4% in the period through Jan. 20th.  The index lost 6.6% that year.