Investors Gearing Up for the Final Month
Sources: Sources for data in tables: Equity Market and Fixed Income returns are from JP Morgan as of 11/24/17. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 11/27/17. International developed markets measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, emerging markets measured by the MSCI EM Index. Sector performance is measured using GICS methodology.
Stocks found stable footing during last week’s holiday shortened trading session. During the three and half days the U.S. markets were open, the S&P 500 Index gained 0.9%, the Russell Midcap Index gained 0.8%, and the Russell 2000 Index ended the week 1.8% higher. The gains in equities overall, and specifically small cap stocks, resulted from continued economic growth momentum as well as the residual impacts of the focus on U.S. tax reform. On the international front, developed markets gained 1.9% outpacing emerging markets, which experienced a 1.6% advance.
Consumer discretionary stocks were one of the best performing sectors last week. This is perhaps due to the expected impact that Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will have on the sector. With total sales from this past weekend (including Monday) expected to double last year’s figure, the U.S. consumer is clearly alive and well as we head into the final month of the year.
Barring a dramatic, volatility causing market event, 2017 will go down as one of the calmest years on record for equity markets. This is despite a never ending flow of news regarding policy, politics, and international tensions. With December just around the corner, we thought we’d take account of where we are and what we expect during the home stretch of this very memorable year.
While the S&P 500 Index has gained approximately 20% thus far this year, the performance across styles and sizes, while directionally consistent, has diverged meaningfully. U.S. Large Cap Value stocks, for example, are up 9.2% this year, returning less than one-third of the 28.1% gain U.S. Large Cap Growth stocks have experienced thus far. This theme has been consistent across all three primary groupings of market capitalization with growth outperforming value in the mid and small cap spaces as well. In terms of company size, large cap firms have outperformed mid-caps, which, in turn, have outperformed small caps. Large cap companies generate relatively more revenue (about 30% on average) from international sources and thus are more leveraged to the international growth that we’ve also seen this year. Looking ahead to the final month of the year and into 2018, keep an eye on small cap stocks which stand to likely benefit more from tax reform than their larger counterparts.
With Q3 earnings season in the books, December’s most anticipated market moving news will come in the form of a widely anticipated, third and final, Federal Reserve rate hike this year after the scheduled Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting in December. This would raise the Federal Funds Target Rate from a range of 1.00% – 1.25% to 1.25% – 1.50%. However, considering that this move is already “priced in” we do not expect much of a reaction in the capital markets. Tax cuts/reform, of course, has the most potential to move markets but it is unclear whether or not we will get an announcement before year end and it possible that it becomes a 2018 issue. Outside of the FOMC and tax cuts/reform, and beyond the usual monthly economic data releases, December is often the month when tax loss harvesting and year end fund positioning have the potential to increase trading volume.
We recognize how busy December is for most people but strongly encourage all investors to take some time this month to ensure they’re positioned appropriately for the balance of 2017 and for 2018. To help make this review easier, the Hennion & Walsh Asset Management Team and Financial Planning professionals are here to help. If you have any questions about the amount of risk you are taking with your current investments or if you are unsure whether or not you are invested consistently with your objectives and tolerance for risk, please do not hesitate to speak with your Hennion & Walsh Financial Advisor today.
Important Information and Disclaimers
Disclosures: Past performance does not guarantee future results. We have taken this information from sources that we believe to be reliable and accurate. Hennion & Walsh cannot guarantee the accuracy of said information and cannot be held liable. This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the asset classes or sectors discussed.
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MSCI- EAFE: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australasia and Far East Index, a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed-market equity performance, excluding the United States and Canada.
MSCI-Emerging Markets: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Market Index, is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the performance of global emerging markets of about 25 emerging economies.
Russell 3000: The Russell 3000 measures the performance of the 3000 largest US companies based on total market capitalization and represents about 98% of the investible US Equity market.
ML BOFA US Corp Mstr [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Corporate Master Market Index is a statistical composite tracking the performance of the entire US corporate bond market over time.
ML Muni Master [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Municipal Bond Master Index is a broad measure of the municipal fixed income market.
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LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate, is the rate of interest at which banks offer to lend money to one another in the wholesale money markets in London.
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DJ Equity REIT Index represents all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as Equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. These companies are REITSs that primarily own and operate income-producing real estate.