Market Resiliency Continues
Sources: Sources for data in tables: Equity Market and Fixed Income returns are from JP Morgan as of 9/15/17. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 9/18/17. International developed markets measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, emerging markets measured by the MSCI EM Index. Sector performance is measured using GICS methodology. S&P 500 earnings data from FactSet as of 9/15/17.
Stocks around the world rose again last week despite continued threats from North Korea and some uncertainty regarding future Federal Reserve activity. U.S. Large cap and Midcap stocks gained 1.6% each while the Russell 2000, a gauge of small cap companies, climbed 2.4%. International developed stocks rose 0.6% during the week and emerging markets gained 1.1%. Since the start of the year emerging markets have dominated and are now up over 30% since January 1st.
In addition to the ongoing tensions with North Korea, hurricanes continue to plague the Caribbean and threaten southern areas of the United States. Last week we discussed the potentially limited impact hurricanes can be expected to have on longer run economic data. However, short term effects are beginning to be felt. Tighter oil supply stemming from Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the Houston area pushed WTI Crude oil prices above $50 for the first time in five weeks. Also, owing to lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey, were August U.S. retail sales which fell 0.2% and industrial production which fell 0.9%.
While there are more storms unfortunately brewing in the southern Atlantic, investor attention will now likely turn towards the Federal Reserve which meets this week on Tuesday September 19th and Wednesday September 20th. Wednesday’s meeting will culminate with the release of their economic projections and a press conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen. It is widely expected that the Fed will not raise rates but rather announce their plans for a reduction in their nearly $4.5 Trillion balance sheet. Some individuals have expressed concern with this process and its impact on the markets and economy. While it is true that we will be witnessing an untested process unfold with no historical precedent, we do not believe the most likely outcome is chaos as the Federal Reserve is not a malicious organization seeking to disrupt markets. Fed members are typically judged by how smoothly the economy operates under their watch and their response to crises. If the reduction of balance sheet assets leads to substantially higher rates, which in turn weighs on economic growth, they are likely to respond by slowing (or even halting) the process, lowering interest rates, or possibly even buying bonds back. In other words, there are many tools that the Fed has to combat future threats to the economy and it is hard for us to imagine them blindly continuing with any program that is doing damage to the economy and their own reputations.
While the Fed does not intentionally seek to do damage, the central bank’s miscalculations can unintentionally lead to economic difficulties. As a result, we will be watching both the Fed’s balance sheet activity and future rate hikes. Given the market’s heightened valuations, any pullbacks are likely to be sharp in nature (though likely short as investors scoop up bargains). While high prices do not cause markets to fall on their own, they can increase the severity of drawdowns. As a result, investors may want to revisit their portfolio allocations to help ensure that they have the necessary diversification in place to help any periods of volatility. If you would like to have your portfolio reviewed, please do not hesitate to speak with your Hennion & Walsh Financial Advisor.
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.
Investing in foreign securities presents certain risks not associated with domestic investments, such as currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, and different accounting standards. This may result in greater share price volatility. These risks are heightened in emerging markets.
There are special risks associated with an investment in real estate, including credit risk, interest rate fluctuations and the impact of varied economic conditions. Distributions from REIT investments are taxed at the owner’s tax bracket.
The prices of small company and mid cap stocks are generally more volatile than large company stocks. They often involve higher risks because smaller companies may lack the management expertise, financial resources, product diversification and competitive strengths to endure adverse economic conditions.
Investing in commodities is not suitable for all investors. Exposure to the commodities markets may subject an investment to greater share price volatility than an investment in traditional equity or debt securities. Investments in commodities may be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity index volatility, changes in interest rates or factors affecting a particular industry or commodity.
Products that invest in commodities may employ more complex strategies which may expose investors to additional risks.
Investing in fixed income securities involves certain risks such as market risk if sold prior to maturity and credit risk especially if investing in high yield bonds, which have lower ratings and are subject to greater volatility. All fixed income investments may be worth less than original cost upon redemption or maturity. Bond Prices fluctuate inversely to changes in interest rates. Therefore, a general rise in interest rates can result in the decline of the value of your investment.
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.
Investors cannot directly purchase any index.
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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unweighted index of 30 “blue-chip” industrial U.S. stocks.
The S&P Midcap 400 Index is a capitalization-weighted index measuring the performance of the mid-range sector of the U.S. stock market, and represents approximately 7% of the total market value of U.S. equities. Companies in the Index fall between S&P 500 Index and the S&P SmallCap 600 Index in size: between $1-4 billion.
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.