Humming Right Along

As we enter the homestretch of 2017, markets seem to be humming right along. Across the globe we are seeing improving economic fundamentals and stock markets heading higher. Unlike past few years, the United States is not leading the markets in 2017. Emerging Markets and Developed International Markets have led the way in 2017. While these economies are growing comparable to the U.S., their markets are beginning to catch up to their counterparts in the U.S. Large Cap US Equites were up 4.48% for the quarter, lagging International Equites which were up 5.40% and Small Cap US Equities which were up 5.67%. The bond markets made reasonable contributions with the Barclays Capital US Aggregate Index returning .85% for the quarter and High Yield returning 1.70%. Again, International Bonds outperformed with a quarterly return of 3.05%. Looking toward the last quarter of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 we are cautious and hopeful. The long slow economic expansion in the US shows no sign of weakness. As long as profits continue to grow we don’t see a reason that US Equities can’t go higher. The Federal Reserve has raised rates 3 times in 2017, with a 4th expected in December. We haven’t seen anything un-expected happen in the markets with […]

Still Holding Steady

Global stock markets are trading near their highs and holding steady since our last post, mid-summer. Bond prices have generally held their gains off their early year lows. Global economies continue to grow modestly. As well, markets don’t seem to be reflecting much concern over confused expectations for tax reform or fiscal stimulus. Repatriation of overseas profits still seems to be an expectation. Many are expecting an autumn pullback, and market sentiment indicators seem to be tipping towards some sort of modest correction. Right now it doesn’t feel like there’s any action to be taken, although it’s always important to be on the lookout for longer term shifting trends in the economy and markets. We think broad diversification in and within asset classes is more important than it has been since the market bottom in early 2009.

Equity Markets Supported by Steady Interest Rates and Growing Economies

The first half of 2017 has been good for stocks and, as of today, Q3 is starting off well as the Fed is holding its course, and earnings reports for the second quarter are expected to be solid across most industries. There are, and have been, some headwinds but the markets, based on a solid economy and steady interest rates, are climbing the wall of worry. The major U.S. stock indices were up about 3% for the quarter and 9% for the first half. Within the broader indices growth (read tech) beat value, and large cap beat small cap, both significantly. As overseas economies found their footing over the first half of 2017, foreign stocks did well in both quarters of the first half of the year. The broad international index was up 6% for the quarter and nearly 14% for the half year. The broad domestic bond index wasn’t up much in Q2 but up 2% for the first six months. So, what next after a strong start to the year? All signs continue to point to slow but solid economic growth domestically and overseas, and steady interest rates with little inflation. This is a great environment for stocks […]

Solid First Quarter-Now What?

Most major stock indices turned in a 5%+ first quarter. Bond prices bounced some off their end of year lows, showing a 1%-ish total return for the quarter in the major bond indices. Global economies continued to strengthen in Q1 including Europe, Japan and China. Here at home CEO expressed their enthusiasm for regulatory and tax relief from the new administration and congress by announcing new investments in their businesses. In Europe business trends were positive and anti Euro political sentiment seemed to diminish. Bank of Japan raised its growth outlook for 2017 as did China. So, now what? Economies continue to improve, wages are rising in the U.S. and other major economies, and political environments are improving for business. From a market perspective stock prices seem to want to take a rest, but are holding above important support levels. With stock valuations at the upper end of their historical range, the Fed once again raising short term interest rates, and a heightened risk of an overseas confrontation, a bit of caution seems prudent. However, evidence of an accelerating economy could start stocks moving up again as bonds still aren’t  likely competition for equities. Here at Marin Wealth Advisors we are […]

It’s Time to Pay Attention

The Fed will most likely announce a 1/4% rate hike this week. We will want to watch the stock market’s reaction, not just for a few days, but leading into European elections. They start this week in the Netherlands, in late April in France, and into the fall in Germany. The market dislikes uncertainty and a Fed that may be anticipating more inflation due to administration policies may talk tougher than we expect. This would most likely tip the market towards uncertainty, especially if it’s perceived the Fed would be intentionally acting as a counterweight to administration policies. As well, market participants (think institutions) will be watching election polling in the Netherlands, France, and Germany for further signs of an unraveling European Union. Political instability in Europe could certainly lead to more uncertainty about global trade after the Brexit vote, and in light of our administration’s view of global trade pacts. So, in the context of a market that has had a 13% run since early November, let’s pay attention to these looming market influences. As per our February post, keep trimming laggards and take some profits in non-core positions. As well, it’s probably not too late to shorten maturities in […]

New Highs-Climbing the Wall

Most major U.S. stock indices are at new all-time highs in expectations of economic stimulus, fewer business regulations, and lower corporate taxes. Layer on hundreds of billions in potentially repatriated profits, more profitable big banks, and significantly increased tech spending, and you’ve got the makings of a relentlessly up stock market. At this point we’re almost vaulting over the wall of worry of higher interest rates, possible tariff wars, potentially dramatic changes in healthcare, and a political environment that seems nearly unpredictable. The market is showing no signs of letting up, at least at this point. Although there seems to be nothing on the horizon to stop this powerful move, it probably is a good time to look at reducing under performing positions and taking some partial profits on big winners. Incremental is the by word, though, as trends have a way of lasting longer than almost anyone expects.

Time to Re-balance?

Well, we’ve had a nice run in the U.S. stock market, especially if you look all the way back to the bottom in the spring of 2009. The question on most investors’ minds is whether it’s time to re-balance, or not. As we noted in our post at the end of the year, the important things to pay attention to this year are; the Fed, politics, and the economy. So far, so good. The economy continues to improve, the market is absorbing big changes in the political structure without much disturbance, and the Fed seems to be holding it’s line on rate hikes. So, although there seems to be no compelling reasons to change strategies at this point, re-balancing portfolios has more to do with preparing for the future than reacting to current conditions. There are two futures to prepare for; yours and the market’s. Our clients tend to fall into three general age categories; Emerging Investors (20s-30s,) Peak Earners (40s-50s,) and Retirees (60+.) Each age group should respond just a little differently than the others to the need for investment re-balancing. Emerging Investors probably need to be least concerned with re-balancing. Once their long term allocations are set it becomes more […]

Looking Ahead to 2017

Predictions are often easy to make, but even the best researched and considered predictions are often 180 degrees wrong. So for that reason, we are reluctant to make New Year predictions. However, what is important is to figure out what are likely to be the biggest influences on the markets in the coming year. It’s an especially good idea to consider macro factors this year because markets have made dramatic turns around the recent elections. Domestic stocks indices are at new highs (up from highs set last Spring) and bonds are now testing the lows of summer 2015, after reaching record high prices this past summer. We’re thinking the big 2017 market influences will be: The Fed Politics The Business Cycle The markets could be facing real headwinds if the Fed decides to get aggressive in its efforts to head off inflation. Politics are important here because a surge in economic activity due to fiscal stimulus, should it lead to an acceleration in wage gains, will almost certainly force the Fed to raise rates more rapidly. Of course, the result will be lower bond prices and, probably, lower stock prices. Conversely, should fiscal stimulus efforts get stuck in congress, or […]

Game On!

We got our 1/4 point rate hike from the Fed and it seems it’s Game On for higher interest rates, barring a dramatic downturn in the economy. The markets are acting like it’s pretty much what was expected from the Fed, including their language on expected tightening in the labor market and increased inflation. The stock market has had a nice run since the election and the bond market a significant drop. All, it seems, in anticipation of more economic activity and the tighter labor market the Fed describes. We could get a “sell the news” reaction in stocks, which might be welcome by many after such a steep run, but it’s hard to see a correction turning into a rout. True, stock valuations are full, but the new administration’s business friendly policies have a tailwind in the improving economy and 2017 earnings will benefit from easy comparisons in many industries. #fed #inflation #labormarket #economy

Markets Adjust to the New Sheriff and His Crew

We’re in the midst of a very large market rotation based on several anticipated economic policy changes. Although the President-elect is not easy to nail down, his economic cabinet and other leadership choices are pointing to less bank and business regulation, lowered corporate taxes, and economic stimulus. Bond prices are down significantly as big investors, fearing inflation and higher interest rates, exit fixed income. Stock managers are rotating out of healthcare (lingering fears of pricing pressure,) interest sensitive stocks (like utilities and REITs,) and tech stocks, just because they need cash to chase industrials and commodities, as beneficiaries of fiscal stimulus (infrastructure spending,) and banks as beneficiaries of higher interest rates (making loans more profitable.) If we get signs that all this leads to increased economic activity, more employment and higher wages, more capital investment, and more bank lending, we think current stock prices can generally be supported. Although there may be moments of doubt and fear, given the above assumptions, we would  probably see those moments as opportunities to add to quality stocks, especially if the sector rotation continues to be so robust. However, the going looks difficult for bonds.