Economic Commentary | First Quarter 2019

The stock market performed quite well during the First Quarter of 2019 despite opening with what would turn out to be the longest US government shutdown ever; slowing manufacturing sectors in the US, Europe, and China; and bond yields falling. For the quarter, the large cap S&P 500 index rose 13.6%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 14.6%, the international MSCI EAFE index grew 10.0%, and the emerging markets MSCI EM advanced 9.6%.

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Economic Commentary | Fourth Quarter 2018

Shortly after the stock market surpassed the longest bull run in history, investor sentiment turned starkly negative in the face of myriad challenges to the global economy. These headwinds included the trade wars between the US and its largest trading partners (particularly China), higher interest rates as the Fed removes monetary stimulus, slowing global growth, and geopolitical tensions around the world. 2018 brought us a burst bubble in cryptocurrencies, bear markets in the FAANG stocks, and an-almost 40% drop in the price of oil. For the Fourth Quarter 2018, the large cap S&P 500 index declined by 13.5%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index was down 20.2%, the international MSCI EAFE index lost 12.5%, and the emerging markets MSCI EM fell by 7.9%.

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Economic Commentary | Third Quarter 2018

The market resumed its ascent this quarter, with the best results for the S&P 500 index since the fourth quarter of 2013. In August, the bull market set a record for longevity at 3,453 days, surpassing the prior record which ended with the tech bubble bursting in 2000. This longest bull market ever has been largely fueled by five companies termed the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google/Alphabet) along with an unprecedented era of cheap money, thanks to the heroic efforts by the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury to pull this country out of the great recession ten years ago. For the three months ending September 30, 2018, the large cap S&P 500 index gained 7.7%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index rose 3.6%, the international MSCI EAFE index was up 1.4%, and the emerging markets MSCI EM declined by 2.0%.

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Economic Commentary | Second Quarter 2018

While the broad economy continued to improve during the quarter, trade tensions with both China and Europe once again dominated investor attention. In addition, global central banks have shifted toward tighter monetary policy, which will make further economic gains harder to achieve. As a result, we saw quite a wide range in returns for our stock asset classes this quarter, with the US outperforming international indices. For the three months ending June 30, 2018, the large cap S&P 500 index gained 3.4%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index was up 7.7%, the international MSCI EAFE index was down 1.2%, and the emerging markets MSCI EM declined by 8.7%.

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Economic Commentary | First Quarter 2018

The market began the new year by continuing its upward march, as the S&P 500 index amassed thirteen new all-time highs in January in only twenty-one trading days! By the end of that first month, however, a very strong jobs report rattled investors who were increasingly concerned with mounting inflationary pressures. An official correction ensued, taking the S&P 500 index down more than 10% off its high over only nine trading days. After taking some comfort from the resilience of the global economy, investors propelled the market higher once again until early March when President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum in what was the initial salvo in a developing trade war with China. During March, the two parties escalated tensions with threats of tariffs on various exports, culminating in a steep market sell-off which began in the US but spread across the globe. For the three months ending March 31, 2018, the large cap S&P 500 index decreased 0.8%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index was down 0.1%, and the international MSCI EAFE index lost 1.5%.

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Economic Commentary | Fourth Quarter 2017

For the final three months of 2017, the stock market continued its upward march, as the S&P 500 index clocked in 29 additional new all-time highs.  Investors’ optimism, despite myriad geopolitical risks, was largely based upon the pro-business tax reform package that Congress ultimately passed in the waning days of the year.  For the three months ending December 31, 2017, the large cap S&P 500 index increased 6.6%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 3.3%, and the international MSCI EAFE index rose by 4.2%.

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Economic Commentary | Third Quarter 2017

Despite a plethora of reasons for investors to fret, the stock market has continued to forge ahead in recent months. During the third quarter, we saw tensions rising between the US and North Korea, several attempts at healthcare reform fizzling out, a central bank that is removing monetary stimulation, and three separate major hurricanes making landfall in the US. Investors seemingly shrugged off these concerns, and for the three months ending September 30, 2017, the large cap S&P 500 index increased 4.5%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 5.7%, and the international MSCI EAFE index rose by 5.4%.

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Economic Commentary | Second Quarter 2017

Despite heightened domestic political risk, rising tensions with both North Korea and Syria, persistent pressure on global oil prices, and a Federal Reserve that is actively removing monetary accommodation, the market saw plenty of reasons to cheer this past quarter.  For the three months ending June 30, 2017, the large cap S&P 500 index increased 3.1%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 2.5%, and the international MSCI EAFE index rose by 6.1%.

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Economic Commentary | First Quarter 2017

The markets performed well for the three months ending March 31, 2017: the large cap S&P 500 index increased 6.1%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 2.5%, and the international MSCI EAFE index rose by 7.2%. These gains reflect a broadly improved US economy, as evidenced by the strength of the labor market, growing consumer and investor confidence, further recovery in the housing market, and booming service and manufacturing sectors.

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Economic Commentary | Fourth Quarter 2016

The markets were mixed during the quarter ~ domestic indices rallied while global markets gave up some of their earlier gains. For the three months ending December 31st, the large cap S&P 500 index increased 3.8%, the mid/small cap Russell 2000 index gained 8.8%, and the international MSCI EAFE index declined by 0.7%.

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