The past few weeks have been marred by Russia’s commitment to unnecessary military action in Ukraine. Our thoughts and concerns are with those directly and indirectly affected by the conflict.
We hope that you, your family, and everyone close to you are healthy and well. After closing out a very nice year for investors, the markets are off to a rocky start as a new era of tighter monetary policy and higher interest rates hit investors hard this week. Previous expectations were that Federal Reserve tightening would be “limited and...
We hope that you, your family, and everyone close to you is healthy and well during these extraordinary times. As we pass six months since the Covid-19 outbreak, it’s safe to say we’ve all been impacted by the pandemic—some have been terribly ill, some have lost loved ones, and all our lives have been enormously disrupted. Given that, it is with...
We hope you, your family and loved ones are healthy and safe during these unprecedented times. In an age of constant connectivity, no one would have imagined we'd be practicing social distancing and isolation. It’s also hard to imagine that it was only about a month ago that the stock market was at all-time highs, economic growth was on solid...
In our view, prior to the external shocks buffeting markets, the equity markets were already ‘Priced for Perfection’ and a market correction was long overdue. For this reason, we had begun to position our equity strategies defensively, by concentrating on fundamental factors such as quality, value and low volatility.
Entering the New Year, our outlook for the global financial markets was relatively cautious, and it remains so today. We believe that given the extent of the strong rebound we had in 2019, with the S&P 500 up over 28%*, the US equity market was long overdue for a little breather and a correction of between 5 to 10%. While no one can predict what will spark a correction, it was evident to us that the market has been too complacent over these past few months. Even with signs of US economic growth starting to slow, and a multitude of extraordinary events such as the China trade situation, Iran conflict, Impeachment proceedings… and others, every market sell-off was met with strong buying. To us, this appeared to be a little irrational.
As we look ahead to the closing months of 2019, we believe that many of the issues that created uncertainty and market volatility over the past year, continue to remain a concern. Regardless of these issues, the US stock market (as measured by the S&P 500 index) has been extremely resilient and hit a new all-time high in October. The positive momentum has been fueled by good corporate earnings results, stronger than expected US GDP growth, another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve, and relatively positive reports on US-China trade negotiations.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had many calls about the yield curve, so I’d like to begin this month’s Perspective by providing a brief summary of what it is, what it means and why you should care.
As I write this, the equity markets are in the midst of the biggest stock market sell-off of 2019. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is currently down 855 points as of 2:42 PM today (August 5, 2019 source: QUODD Financial Information Services, Inc.).
The US and China trade rhetoric ramped up in May and the equity markets responded with sharp declines from the all-time highs they reached in April. Investors were hoping for a peaceful resolution to the trade dispute and they were sorely disappointed. Following a few quarters of relative calm, President Trump surprised the markets by accusing China of renegotiating portions of the trade deal and imposed a sharp increase in Chinese import tariffs.
Since the start of 2019, equity markets have been on a relentless run, posting one all-time high after another. As April came to a close, each of the benchmark indexes listed in the charts below posted strong monthly returns. In fact, for several of the indexes, January to April 2019 was the best four-month stretch in many years.
The equity markets peaked on September 20, 2018, when the S&P 500 Index reached 2,930. From that point forward, worries and panic selling set in for the remainder of the year and investors were greeted with extreme volatility and an almost 20% pullback.
As of yesterday’s market close, the S&P 500 is at a 15-month low, with 60% of its stocks in what is considered, “bear market” territory (down 20% or more) and 9 of 11 industry sectors now trading at what is considered “correction” levels (down 10% or more). I’m sure investors don’t really care what it is called (bear market or correction), the bottom line is that the markets have been awful for investors since October. In fact, the equity markets are now officially having the worst year since 2008.
As we enter the 4th quarter, the US equity markets are close to their recent all-time highs. Meanwhile, on the fixed income side, the bond market has been selling off, causing interest rates to spike up to levels not seen in several years. The rise in interest rates has been fast and furious over the past week, adding some additional fright to the often spooky month of October.
As we enter August, we hope you and your family are enjoying a peaceful, relaxing, and happy Summer. Normally, this time of year is the slow season for the markets, but as we have embarked on the second half of 2018, it appears that a new narrative has emerged.
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