Markets Remain Remarkably Quiet…for Now
Sources: Equity Market, Fixed Income and REIT returns from JP Morgan as of 08/19/16. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 08/22/16.
Record low levels of volatility persisted into yet another week with U.S. and emerging markets finishing essentially flat and developed international markets posting a slight drop of 0.6%. The performance of the U.S. market was driven by gains in value stocks of 0.4% being partially offset by losses in growth stocks of 0.2%, as measured by the Russell 1000 Value and Growth Indexes respectively. In terms of sector performance last week, Telecom and Utilities were the worst performing sectors with losses of 3.8% and 1.3% respectively. The Energy and Materials sectors posted the strongest gains for the week moving 2.2% and 1.3% higher respectively. Despite giving back a few percentage points last week, Telecom and Utilities remained the best performing sectors of 2016 thus far with year-to-date gains of 19.3% and 18.1% each. This was the fourth consecutive week where all ten sectors (soon to be expanding to a total of 11 sectors with the addition of REITs as their own sector) of the U.S. stock market remained in positive territory for the year.
During the upcoming week, investors will be focused on the annual Jackson Hole Symposium, which is set to take place from Thursday, August 25 through Saturday, August 27. This meeting is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and, according to their website, is where “prominent central bankers, finance ministers, academics, and financial market participants from around the world gather to discuss the economic issues, implications, and policy options pertaining to the symposium topic.” This year’s topic is “Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future.” While a number of well-respected individuals will be speaking, Janet Yellen’s speech, set to take place on Friday, will be the most widely followed as investors look for signs of when the next interest rate hike may occur.
The economic environment the Fed proclaims is required for the next rate hike appears to be taking form. Employment reports have been firm, inflation data, as measured by Core CPI, is improving with a year-over-year gain of 2.2% reported last week, and global macro-economic risks have subsided. Before the next Fed Meeting, which is set to conclude on September 21, another round of economic data will be released with the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report on August 29 and the Employment Situation report on September 2. As a reminder, the PCE is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation while the Employment Situation report shows changes in the unemployment rate, participation rate and average hourly earnings. Despite this seemingly adequate environment, the market is pricing in about a 1-in-5 probability of a 0.25% rate hike at the September meeting, according to the CBOE. We would not be surprised, however, if the Fed does in fact choose to nudge the target rate higher after this meeting.
What does this all mean for the average investor? We, at Hennion & Walsh, think that it means that investors should prepare their portfolios for potential surprises from both the Federal Reserve and the global economy. The low volatility that has come to characterize the second half of this summer is unlikely to continue and each time it looks like the Fed is going to raise rates, a macro-economic surprise seems to spring forward. Speak with your Hennion & Walsh Financial advisor or a member of the Hennion & Walsh Asset Management Team about having a complimentary portfolio review completed today to help gauge whether or not your portfolio is balanced and able to withstand bouts of volatility in the future.
*U.S. markets are represented by the S&P 500 Index. International Developed markets are represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Emerging markets are represented by the MSCI EM Index.
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.