Equities in the U.S. rebounded in February, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq returning 7.1% and the S&P 500 5.8%. International developed equities posted another positive month, with the MSCI EAFE returning 6.0%, while emerging market equities returned 3.1%. Globally, equities benefitted from positive economic data, with continued declines in unemployment in the U.S. and stronger than expected GDP in the eurozone. Core bonds and other interest rate-sensitive investments (e.g., REITs, utility stocks) struggled on rising interest rates in the U.S., as investors remain cautiuos that the Fed is more likely to increase interest rates in 2015 given the continued strength of the domestic economy.
- The U.S. dollar has continued its rise against other global currencies, having returned 5.6% in 2015 and 18% since last summer; this move has ripple effects throughout the global economy, from commodity prices to current account balances - A tight labor market in retail is leading to wage growth, as Wal-Mart recently announced a 10% increase in hourly wages for over 500,000 of its full- and part-time workers; per the WSJ, restaurant wages increased by over 3% in 2014 - An agreement was reached between Greece's left-wing Syriza party and the "troika" (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) to extend its bailout for four months, relieving Greek bond holders and stabilizing its banking system through June (WSJ)
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