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In Your Best Interest: Our Fall 2018 Newsletter

In Your Best Interest: Our Fall 2018 Newsletter

Click here to view the full newsletter, including recent news, important dates, financial tips & tools, and more.


Market Highlights Q3 2018

One lens we use to assess our economic and financial wellbeing is market prices for US stocks and foreign shares of corporations. From that perspective, Q3 was quite favorable for investors. US stocks and global stock indexes rose on strong economic indicators and corporate earnings. As you can see below, each of the US indexes posted solid gains, and global stocks overcame declines seen in the first half of the year. Prices for 10-year Treasuries dropped by the end of the quarter, pushing yields higher by 20 bps.

If your portfolio lagged compared to these impressive gains, don’t be alarmed—and don’t worry. A balanced portfolio is designed to avert risk by including US bonds which saw negative returns in the quarter due to the inverse relationship to rising interest rates. A balanced portfolio further includes global stocks whose returns were lower than the US market. Balancing risk and reward is the goal, and your portfolio should always reflect that reality. 

That said, current economic indicators point to continued growth. Jobs are up 196,000/month for the past year, and hourly earnings are up 2.9%. Interest rates are the highest they’ve been since April 2008 which signals a strong economy, and GDP growth is at 4.2%. Home sales are stable, consumer spending remains strong, and consumer confidence is at an 18-year high.

One of the few distractors from growth has been turmoil in international trade. The trade battle between the US and China has dampened Chinese stocks, though higher numbers at the end of Q3 hint at decreasing concern about the real impact of the trade war. Brexit—and its potential impact on commerce in the UK and Europe—remains uncertain. On the plus side, a revamped NAFTA (USMCA) agreement should ease tensions between the US and our trading partners in Mexico and Canada; Japanese stocks are approaching highs not seen since the early 1990s; and Germany, France, and the UK all saw gains in their respective stock benchmarks.

Will growth approach 4.0% in the last quarter of the year? Are security prices “too high”? Is a recession inevitable? We know that today the US economy is strong and security prices are exuberant. As always, the prudent investor stays invested, stays the course, and sticks to the basics with a balanced, risk-appropriate approach to growing and protecting your wealth through all market cycles.

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In Your Best Interest: Our Spring 2018 Newsletter

Click here to view the full newsletter, including recent news, important dates, financial tips & tools, and more.


MARKET HIGHLIGHTS: Q1 2018

2018 hasn’t been an easy ride so far. Market volatility began to rear its ugly head almostfrom the start, and then stocks went on sale again when the S&P 500 dropped 5.9% over five days—its worst week since January 2016. On the heels of a particularly celebratory 2017 (at least from an investment perspective), the stock market proved it is anything but predictable. For the quarter, the S&P index was down -1.22% and the Dow Jones was down -2.49%. And though the techheavy NASDAQ was up slightly at +2.32%, it was down for the month by -2.88% after gaining an impressive +7.4% in January. Market volatility is back, and it’s likely to be with us for a while. 

Why the change in sentiment? Investors seem to be falling into a familiar pattern: the Trump Administration announces tariffs—this time on Chinese imports— but is not specific on the details. Wary of retaliation against American products sold abroad, traders put a lower value on the large, multinational companies that make up most of the major indexes. 

The last time this happened, the tariffs involved steel and aluminum. This time, the U.S. announced plans to impose tariffs on about $50 Billion worth of Chinese goods, which prompted China to retaliate, slapping its own tariffs on $3 Billion worth of US exports, including fruit, pork, and steel pipes. The threats from both countries have fueled fears of a global trade war.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook shares fell almost 10%, from 176.83 down to 159.39. This took the social media giant down from the 5th largestcapitalization company in the S&P 500 index to the 6th (behind Berkshire Hathaway) and dragged the index down even further. And yet there is some good news. What’s remarkable about the selloff over things that may or may not happen is that it came amid some very good news about the U.S. economy. Durable-goods orders jumped 3.1% in February, sales of newly-constructed homes were solid, and Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic announced that there were “upside risks” in GDP and employment. Translated, that means that the economy is looking too good to keep interest rates as low as they have been—which means this is a curious time to be selling out and heading for the investment sidelines.

If none of that helps you feel less rattled, I recommend re-reading my blog Wall Street has gone wild! for some additional perspective. And if you’re still not at peace with the market and your place in it, give us a call. As always, we’re here to help. 

 

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Disclosure

All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Lauren S. Klein, President, Klein Financial Advisors, Inc. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and we make no representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Read More >