The first quarter of 2011 brought all manner of nastiness around the globe. Protests and regime changes in the Middle East roiled the international oil markets, further raising the specter of inflation. Economic weakness in Europe continued, with Portugal being the latest nation likely to need a bailout.
Even worse was Japan’s triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. Interestingly, while commodity, currency, and international stock markets were all impacted by these events, stocks in the U.S. held up surprisingly well and have even extended their rally. Large-cap stocks earned 5.9% in the first quarter (see graph on page 2), a very strong showing….
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