The first quarter turned out to be more of the same for markets, with stocks (S&P 500) up 10%, continuing the strong momentum of 2023. Any weakness only lasted a couple of days and investors bought the dip resulting in 22 all-time closing highs. Market leadership has shifted from just a few names to being broader based as 10 of the 11 sectors rallied. Click HERE to continue reading our market update.

It Continues to Start and End with ‘The FED’

Blue skies turned somewhat turbulent in the third quarter as markets (S&P 500) gave back some of their first half gains (nearly 20%) and are now up 12% as the quarter ended. Most of the volatility was once again the result of the Fed’s future direction of interest rates, which now points to higher rates through the end of 2024. As a result, the 10-year Treasury Bond has increased from 3.25% in March to nearly 4.9% as of 10/6/2023. The 10-year helps determine mortgage rates, bond performance and ultimately stock performance, so this advance is not good for any type of risk asset.  

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What Has Changed?

Markets continued their positive performance in the second quarter and the S&P 500 is now up 17% through the first half of the year. Many investors have been caught off guard as the outlook at the beginning of the year was doom and gloom. Cooling inflation, better than expected corporate earnings, and the new AI (Artificial Intelligence) craze have been the obvious drivers of the great start to the year, but as we get longer into this market run up, the question becomes “Is this sustainable”? In order for the answer to be yes, inflation must continue on its downward descent, the Fed has to start talking rate cuts and corporate earnings expectations need to continue to surprise to the upside. In our view, at present, there’s a low probability of all three happening in unison.

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End of the Road?

The 3rd quarter managed a slim profit despite a pullback of over 5% from the market high on September 2nd. Stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, have returned nearly 15% through the first three quarters of the year. We went 211 trading days without a 5% correction, which is the 13th longest streak on record. Historically, these streaks have been positive, as 11 of the 12 streaks longer than the most recent one continued their positive trends over time. Despite great returns year to date and a trend that should remain positive, we are seeing a wall of worry not experienced since the depths of COVID-19 in 2020.

Please click here to continue reading our 3rd Quarter Market Commentary.

2021 Looking Past the Pandemic

We spent many hours at the end of 2019 trying to figure out what could derail one of the greatest markets in history. Most investors’ biggest concern going into 2020 was the upcoming election and what a potential change in Washington leadership would mean for the markets. Of course, no one predicted a global pandemic causing a global recession. Fortunately, it was the shortest recession and fastest market recovery in history. Please click HERE to continue reading our 4th Quarter Newsletter.