March 23 2012

“Spring Has Returned. The Earth Is Like a Child That Knows Poems” -Rainer Maria Rilke


North American Consumer Confidence Rises

North Americans are feeling more confident about the economy with 26% of Americans and 28% of Canadians believing that their economies will improve next year, the highest levels seen in over a year. This comes from an RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook survey.  However, Canadian and American residents also share concerns about their personal financial situations, with only 26% of American consumers expecting their personal financial situation to improve, while 34% of Canadians share that optimism.
“With both economies showing signs of a recovery, consumers need to focus on managing their money and developing a financial plan that includes saving and investing,” said Jason Round, head of financial planning support for RBC financial planning. “Sitting down with a financial planner to discuss your options is a good first step to preparing for unforeseen problems or changes.”
When it comes to employment, worries are greater south of the border. However, only 26% of Americans expressed concerns about job loss, down from 32% in February. In addition, 34% reported that someone in their family or a personal friend had lost their job due to economic conditions, the lowest level in over a year and down from 42% last month.
RBC Economics forecasts that Canada’s GDP will increase by 2.6% in 2012, while U.S. GDP is expected to expand by 2.5%, bolstered by a rise in auto sales and growth in consumer spending. Other highlights from the survey included a look at the major purchases of both Canadians and Americans, which include cars, household appliances and cars, and the discovery that 29% of Americans are uncomfortable with spending in the near future.  Rising gas prices are still a concern to both countries, with 88% Americans in particular believing gas prices will rise.


Market Update as of March 23 2012

The TSX closed at 12466, down -31 points or -0.25% over the past week. YTD the TSX is up 4.27%.

The DOW closed at 13081, down -151 points or -1.14% over the past week.YTD the DOW is up 7.06%.

The S&P closed at 1397, down -7 points or -0.50% over the past week.YTD the S&P is up 11.05%.

The Nasdaq closed at 3068, up 13 points or 0.43% over the past week.YTD the Nasdaq is up 17.77%.

Gold closed at 1661, up 6.00 points or 0.36% over the past week.YTD gold is up 6.13%.

Oil closed at 106.75, down -0.46 points or -0.43% over the past week.YTD oil is up 7.94%.

The USD/CAD closed at 1.0022, down -0.0060 points or -0.60% over the past week.YTD the CAD/USD is up 2.29%.

Sources: Bloomberg, RBC,