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First Quarter 2019 Review: Make Hay While the Sun Shines

After a dismal end to 2018, stock and bond markets rebounded in Q1, with the S&P 500 delivering its best quarter (+13.6% including dividends) since the financial crisis 10 years ago. Some factors positively influencing investor sentiment included: an end to the U.S. government shutdown, improving prospects for a U.S-China trade agreement, and a shift to more accommodative monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Every global asset class represented in our clients’ portfolios appreciated in Q1, and most equity indexes notched double-digit returns (...)

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Can You Say “Whip-Saw”?

After a 4th quarter correction which bottomed out on Christmas Eve, U.S. equity markets have rallied for 8 consecutive weeks (through mid-February), with the S&P 500 index up 18% over that span (and 11% year-to-date). Small cap stocks rebounded even more swiftly, with the Russell 2000 index up nearly 24% from its December low (16% year-to-date). Investors shrugged off some negative macroeconomic news (December retail sales declined 1.2%, the largest drop since September 2009), seemingly giving more weight to a host of other positive developments.

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4th Quarter Review: Tough Equity Markets

Global equity markets suffered significant losses during the 4th quarter, which dragged down stock returns across the board for the full year. Our clients’ portfolios, most of which include an allocation to bonds, declined somewhat less. Still, 2018 was unusual in that almost every major investment category experienced a negative total return. The exceptions were cash, US Fixed Income, and TIPs (note: your portfolio’s allocation and results may differ—please refer to your Quarterly Portfolio Review Report).

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Feeling Stressed by the Market?

We are experiencing our first broad-based drop in stock markets for many years. Just last week, the drop in the S&P 500 from its September high surpassed 10%. Moreover, US large company stocks are actually one of the better performing stock asset classes, with declines in foreign stocks and smaller company stocks nearing or even exceeding 20% now. Following on the heels of a calm 2017 (when the S&P 500 rose each and every month), this downturn feels like a genuine shock.

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Reiterating Why Diversification Matters

You’ve heard us repeat it regularly: although the keys to reaching your financial goals are very simple, implementation is not necessarily easy. The most important rules are: spend less than you earn, invest your savings regularly, keep your investment expenses low, and diversify your portfolio. Today, we’ll focus on this last rule, and consider the recent outperformance of U.S. stocks versus foreign stocks and bonds.

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