In a year dominated by trade tension, possibly unparalleled political noise, persistent talk of recession, and a broad slowdown in corporate spending, global equity and debt indices provided returns that have not been rivalled since 1997. Meanwhile, US economic growth stalled, with GDP sinking below its long-term average.
What is perception and what is “reality”? This seems to be the common thread today as people, more than ever, are inundated with information and an abundance of polarizing viewpoints. The markets are not immune to this.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too”
This old English proverb has been so popular over the centuries for good reason. After all, how can one possibly enjoy both of two desirable but mutually exclusive alternatives at the same time?
Apparently in the financial markets is how. Take the middle of June, for instance. While interest rates were falling on growing economic pessimism, stocks in the U.S. were fast approaching record levels on the optimism of a Federal Reserve backstop. Pessimism and optimism can both be a good thing for stocks, evidently.
There have been many nostrums shared about the stock market, but few are as reliable or as relevant as the phrase about the Federal Reserve coined by the late Marty Zweig, “Don’t fight the Fed.” Included in his famous book, Winning on Wall Street, are many of Zweig’s timeless insights about the enormous influence – if not dominant factor—Federal Reserve policy, largely in the form of trends in interest rates, has on stock prices. And there’s hardly a better example of Zweig’s observation than how the stock market has behaved over the past six months.
We are extremely pleased to announce that Amyn Moolji has joined Cribstone’s Investment Team. The world stock market has just gone through a rough patch that certainly reflects the winter doldrums, ending 2018 on a downbeat note. This in spite of the fact that there have been flickers of hope on the economic front, particularly with consumers.
While this year has been quite disjointed, with US Growth Stocks rising and seemingly most everything else falling, we believe strongly that maintaining a well-diversified portfolio has value, both in terms of managing risk and investing for opportunity.
In addition to high crests and low troughs for the market overall, there has also been a wide gulf in performance between winning and losing sectors for the first half of 2018.
If you think you’ve observed a lot more action in the stock market lately compared to 2017, you’d be absolutely correct. Volatility – moves of 1% or more – has returned.
It should come as no surprise that the financial markets reacted positively to the news that Congress had finally passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,“ December 19.
We are still in the midst of record-setting sessions for the major stock market indices. The S&P 500 has gone the longest number of days since 1929: 346 at this writing.
There have been a number of factors pushing the markets higher this year…the election of Donald Trump and with it the possibility that pro-growth policies are enacted.
What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, markets had come through one of the worst sell-offs in history, driven largely by fears of global recession.
Recall that 2016 began as one of the worst ever in the history of the stock market, with the first two weeks of January alone down about 6%. Where do we go from here?
Many of you have asked us, as we have asked ourselves, whether it matters, from a stock market’s perspective, who fills the Oval Office in January. We’re not sure it does.
Our recurring theme is volatility. After a weak start to 2016, where the first 10 days of January were the worst in history, the index finished the second quarter up 2.9%.