With the second quarter in the books, now is a great time to check in on markets, sectors and stocks that have been noteworthy during both the second quarter and first half of 2015.
S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite
The major U.S. markets have been largely quiet so far this year, though short-term headwinds presented by Greece’s financial woes seem to have taken a toll on the markets in the final days of the quarter.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, marked .DJI in the chart above, ended the quarter marginally in the red at negative 0.88%, and down just over 1% for the year.
The S&P 500 index, marked .INX, also ended the quarter marginally negative, though only by 0.23%. The index is up 0.2% for the year.
The Nasdaq Composite, marked .IXIC, managed a modest 1.75% gain during Q2 and is up 5.29% for the year.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)
Q1 was kind to Netflix shareholders, but Q2 was even better. The stock jumped nearly 24% during Q1 and rose more than 57% during Q2, logging a 92.3% gain during the first half of 2015. The company recently announced it will execute a 7-for-1 stock split.
Wayfair (NYSE: W)
I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of Wayfair until it showed up in my stock screen. Shares of this 13-year-old online home-goods retailer were up only 17% during the second quarter. I say “only” because the stock rose nearly 70% during the first quarter, resulting in a gain of nearly 90% for the first half of 2015 after struggling following its initial public offering.
GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH)
I specifically ignored the dozen or so unheard of biotechnology stocks that showed up in my stock screen for the top stocks so far in 2015. But I simply cannot ignore GW Pharmaceuticals, which is designing pharmaceuticals with compounds derived from marijuana.
Medical trials suggest the company has made breakthroughs in treating childhood epilepsy, among other conditions. The stock rose nearly 35% during Q2 after rising 30% in Q1. Shares closed up 81.5% for the first half of 2015.
Gold and Silver
Gold and silver have traded sideways during 2015. The above chart shows the performance of the two popular ETFs which track the price of gold and silver, respectively: the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEArca: GLD) and the iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV). Both commodities closed down for the quarter, with gold down around 1% and silver down nearly 6%. For 2015, gold is down just over 1% while silver is only negative by 0.2%.
It makes sense that the euro would lose strength against the dollar amidst market turmoil like what we’re witnessing in Greece. While this logic isn’t wrong, the above chart suggests that the euro began falling in relation to the U.S. dollar well before the market was focused on issues in Greece.
The euro was actually up by more than 3.5% during Q2, but is down nearly 8% overall this year.
Crude oil has moved largely sideways after its big decline in 2014 and amidst uncertainty about how long this cheap-oil environment will persist. Brent crude began the year around $62 per barrel and is currently trading at just over $63 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude oil started 2015 trading around $56 per barrel and ended just below $58.75 per barrel.
Q3 and Beyond
Be on the lookout for changes in the value of the various indexes and securities listed above, especially in light of the likely Federal Reserve rate hike, which could come as soon as September.
I’ll be watching the benchmarks and stocks in this Q2 review and 2015 halftime report as a barometer of market conditions as we continue through 2015.
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