2018 First Quarter Financial Insights
The year began similarly to most of 2017 - stocks continued their strong rally and all major equity indexes were positive in the first month. This continuation was brief, however, as volatility increased at the end of January and global indexes were negative in both February and March. With the exception of Emerging Markets and US Small Caps, most US and International Developed Indexes posted a loss for the first quarter of 2018.
During Jerome Powell’s first meeting as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the committee decided to hike interest rates another 0.25%. The US Treasury 10-year yield closed at 2.74%, an increase from the 2.40% yield at the end of 2017. Economic data was mostly positive with Q4 US real GDP revised up to 2.9% (annualized), but a few data releases were weaker than expected.
2017 Fourth Quarter Financial Insights
It’s no secret that 2017 was a fantastic year for markets. US Equities finished each month higher than the previous, and December was no different. It was a record year for the S&P 500 for numerous reasons:
- The S&P 500 produced a positive total return in every month of the year for the first time in 90 years.
- The price return of 19.4% was the 27th best calendar year since 1927
- The S&P 500 set 62 new highs during the year
- Volatility was the second lowest on record, with a daily volatility of 6.7% in 2017 (since 1927, the average is 16.6%, with the lowest on record of 5.3% in 1964).
2017 Second Quarter Financial Insights
For the second quarter of 2017, equity markets continued higher but with less strength in U.S. Equities than the previous two quarters. International Equities led the way with a very strong quarter and returns in the U.S. across all market caps were positive. Bond returns were generally low but still positive. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remained below 2.50% even though the Federal Reserve hiked short-term rates another 0.25% and forecasted additional rate hikes later this year.
2017 First Quarter Financial Insights
Carrying the momentum from the post-election rally, equity markets provided positive but widely varying returns for the ﬁrst quarter of 2017. International equities outperformed, led by Emerging Markets. As investors speculated on the Fed’s interest rate decisions for March and the rest of the year, interest rates bounced around during the quarter and bonds ﬁnished ﬂat to slightly positive.
2016 Fourth Quarter Financial Insights
As the focus on November’s presidential election weighed on investors, equity markets were down throughout the first month of the fourth quarter. Following Donald Trump’s surprising victory, U.S. markets pivoted and the quarter ended on a much higher note, with very strong returns from small and mid-cap stocks. In comparison, international stocks experienced a much rockier path, ending the quarter marginally lower. Overall economic data was positive, and investor sentiment greatly improved once the uncertainty of the election faded. Interest rates changed dramatically during this time, causing dropped prices and negative returns in bonds.
2016 Third Quarter Financial Insights
As the third quarter began, equity markets continued to rally from the lows that followed the Brexit vote. By mid-July, volatility softened and the S&P 500 Index went 43 consecutive days without moving by more than 1.0% in either direction (for reference, the longest stretch reported in recent history was over 60 days in 2014). Markets experienced increasing choppiness throughout the remainder of the quarter, however...
2016 Second Quarter Financial Insights
Equity markets continued to exhibit heightened volatility in the second quarter of 2016, especially during June. A very weak May jobs report created market turmoil in early June, followed by substantial global market movements leading up to, and immediately after, the June 23 "Brexit" referendum vote.
Update on the Brexit vote to "Leave" the European Union
On Thursday June 23, Britain held a referendum vote to determine if it should continue its membership (a vote to “Remain”) in the European Union (EU) or vote to “Leave”, a term referred to as “Brexit” (a combination of “Britain” and “Exit”). The results were very close, with 51.9% voting to Leave. The results of the vote sent shockwaves through worldwide markets on Friday. Stocks and currencies around the globe are experiencing heightened volatility due to the uncertainty of what this historic vote means going forward.
Perspectives from Senior Partner, Dave Harris
Please find a reflection from Senior Partner, Dave Harris, as he shares the benefits of long term investing and the nature of the markets.
2016 First Quarter Financial Insights
U.S. equities fell quickly and deeply into the red to start 2016, producing the worst opening 10-days of the year in history. International equities also had a poor start to the year as another plunge in oil prices, continued concerns over slowing global growth, and lingering effects of the Fed’s interest rate increase in December all contributed to the selloff in risk assets.