Stocks started off the year on a positive note around the globe. Here in the U.S., the S&P500 returned 1.9% following December's 2% gain. January's gains continued the market's impressive consistent run up, with gains in 10 of the past 11 months. Volatility remained low with the S&P500 trading in its narrowest monthly range in any January in its history!
Developed international markets also performed well in January, with the MSCI EAFE index posting a 2.9% gain after it was up 3.4% in December. The US dollar weakening was a big part of this story, but also the lack of big political sparks - think Brexit - were to thank. Note that this may change in the Spring with the French election.
Emerging markets did even better in January, with the MSCI EM index gaining 5.5%. Even despite the risk of souring trade relations with China and Mexico, which I'm sure you have heard plenty about on the news, China was up nearly 7% and Mexico was up more than 2% for the month.
There is not a lot to report about the fixed income or bond markets last month. Treasury yields were largely unchanged, and the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index returned 0.2% for the month.
This January was certainly dramatically different than last - this time last year, the S&P500 was down about 12% YTD.
As you know the big financial news last month was the DOW reaching the 20,000 mark (pop the champagne!) - it was the first time in its 120-year history. This historic milestone occurred during Donald Trump's first week in office, no less. So what could happen next? Before answering that question, let me breakdown the most recent milestone level.
The Dow closed above 19,000 for the first time ever on November 22, 2016, and it only took 42 more days to close above 20,000. This was the second-fastest 1,000 point move ever, with the 24 days needed to go from 10,000 to 11,000 in 1999 being the fastest.
These major milestones can be exciting - they may get individual investors who may not otherwise be paying attention to the markets interested and even invested. But these levels are just nice round numbers - they are not magical. In the end, valuations, technical, and fundamentals are what drive the markets. And these days, with so much policy uncertainty - that can drive the markets too.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. All indicies are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.
Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.
Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards.
Investing involves risk including loss of principal.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.
The Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index, which used to be called the "Lehman Aggregate Bond Index," is a broad base index, maintained by Barclays Capital, which took over the index business of the now defunct Lehman Brothers, and is often used to represent investment grade bonds being traded in United States.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is comprised of 30 stocks that are major factors in their industries and widely held by individuals and institutional investors.
The MSCI EM (Emerging Markets) Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of the emerging market countries of the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The MSCI EAFE Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the US & Canada.
The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is an index of the U.S. investment-grade fixed-rate bond market, including both government and corporate bonds.