The best first-quarter gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since 1998 sent U.S. stocks above gold by the most in more than a decade, a sign of growing investor confidence in corporate profits as analysts raise earnings estimates for the first time this year.
The S&P 500 climbed 12 percent, 5.3 percentage points more than gold for the widest gap to start a year since 1999, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The S&P GSCI Total Return Index (SPGSCITR) of 24 commodities gained 5.9 percent over the three months, while Treasuries slipped 1.3 percent, trailing equities by the most since 2009. Corporate bonds increased 2.4 percent and the dollar fell 1.6 percent.
Stocks are diverging from defensive investments such as gold as appetite for risk increases. While bulls see it as a sign profits and the economy are gaining traction, bears point to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s warnings that more stimulus may be needed as evidence that the rally has gone too far. To money manager Laszlo Birinyi, slower gains in precious metals signal pessimism is starting to fade.
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