According to Standard & Poor’s The World by Numbers report, the world’s developed equity markets gained 1.97% in March with emerging stock markets gaining 4.12%. For the first quarter of 2007, developed markets are up an average of 6.78% and emerging stock markets were ahead 4.68%.
“World equity markets improved from their February and early March selloff levels, but reacted negatively during the last week of trading during the quarter,” said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at Standard & Poor’s, in the report. “Political concerns over the United Kingdom/Iranian standoff pushed oil prices and oil stocks up, but as the tension subsided, expectation of a reduction in oil prices prevailed. Concerns are once again focused on the slowing global economy and inflation.”
In 26 of the 27 developed world stock markets there were gains in March with an average return of 4.06%; Japan was the lone decliner, losing 1.31%. The emerging markets were equally positive, with 23 of the 26 groups posting positive gains in March averaging 5.80%.
The European Central Bank raised the benchmark refinance rate 0.25 bps to 3.75%, and The People’s Bank of China raised its lending rate 0.27 bps to 6.39%. The Bank of England and the U.S. Central Bank held their rate at 5.25%, with the U.S. Open Market Committee signaling a move toward neutrality from their former tightening bias.
The S&P/Citigroup World by Numbers Report for March is at www.standardandpoors.com/indices .