MILLBURN, N.J. (Stockpickr) -- First-quarter 2011 was certainly interesting period. As I had anticipated, the quarter started off quite strong, but then the markets were broadsided by several exogenous events.The most impactful event was a major earthquake in Japan on March 11, which was followed by a devastating tsunami that created a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The nuclear catastrophe spread fear throughout the world's financial markets. I highlighted my stock opportunities in Japan based off of these events. Another major exogenous event occurred on the other side of the world in Libya, where dictator Muammar Gaddafi faced a rebel insurgency in the North African nation. On March 17, a United Nations resolution was passed permitting Western powers to protect Libyan citizens from Gaddafi and create a "no-fly" zone, which led to military action being taken by Western nations. Due to this and other events throughout the Middle East over the past few months, the price of crude oil continued to surge to levels not seen since 2008, which resulted in market concerns for higher levels of inflation and consumer retrenchment. Crude oil was not the only commodity reaching new highs in the first quarter. We have experienced a broad-based and indiscriminate rally in commodities of all classes -- metals, crude oil and agriculture. Related: 5 Stocks Headed Higher in a Weak Market Also in the early part of the first quarter we experienced some of the worst wintry weather in over a decade. For example, here in the New York Metropolitan area, we had the second or third snowiest winter on record. As finance is both a backward-looking and forward-looking science, all of these events were expected to impact first-quarter results and expectations for the second quarter or the rest of the year. But this hasn't necessarily been the case. Impact of Japan Events Several American retailers, including Coach ( COH), Starbucks ( SBUX - Get Report) and Tiffany ( TIF), either have a big retail presence in Japan or rely on the Japanese consumer to purchase their products. While all of the companies felt some effect from the events in Japan, the impact was limited in the first quarter and is not expected to be material in the future.
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