Around the world in a few paragraphs…
The post-election adrenaline rush may be over in the United States. Barron’s reported:
“The new year began with high hopes, with the bulls expecting the rally that began with Donald J. Trump’s election victory to continue into 2017, while the bears salivated at the opportunity presented by a market that had gotten way ahead of itself. Instead, the market has failed to break up or down…At his press conference last week, Trump covered a lot of ground…But he didn’t cover the three subjects investors especially wanted to hear about – namely taxes, fiscal policy, and infrastructure. As a result, some of the primary beneficiaries of the Trump trade stalled: The S&P 500 Financials index declined 0.1 percent, while the energy sector dropped 1.9 percent.”
…And, they’re off!
Bullish sentiment helped world equity markets get off to a fast start last week. Just name a country or region – developed markets, emerging markets, the United States, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom – and it’s likely the area’s benchmark index may have been up for the week.
What a difference a year makes! At the start of 2016, investors were rather pessimistic and risk averse, preferring bonds to stocks. By the end of the year, they were quite optimistic and preferred stocks to bonds. In between, markets traveled a bumpy road.
Missed it by that much…
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) got within 13 points of 20,000 last Tuesday. It finished the week about 90 points below the vaunted milestone. “The Dow has gained nearly 10 percent since the end of October, more than double its 4.1 percent rise during the first nine months of the year, spurred in part by Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Barron’s reported.
The Federal Reserve put a hitch in the markets’ giddy-up last week.
It wasn’t the Fed’s second interest rate hike in a decade that caused markets to stumble. December’s rate hike was old news before it happened. In mid-December, Reuters reported Fed funds futures indicated there was a 97 percent probability the Fed would raise rates one-quarter percent at its December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. In addition, all 120 economists polled by Reuters agreed rates were headed higher.
Dad: “Fra-gee-lay” …it must be Italian!
Mom: I think that says “fragile,” honey.
Dad: Oh, yeah.
This holiday season, investors’ enthusiasm for U.S. stocks has rivaled old man Parker’s passion for his major-award leg lamp in ‘A Christmas Story.’ Last week, three major U.S. indices hit all-time highs.
Flirting with higher interest rates.
Last week, yields on 10-year Treasury bonds rose to a 17-month high of 2.44 percent, reported The Wall Street Journal, before retreating to finish the week at about 2.4 percent.
As we’ve mentioned previously, some experts suspect the bull market in bonds, which has persisted for more than 30 years, may be headed into bear territory. In part, this is because the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to increase the fed funds rate in December. Last week, CME’s FedWatch Tool indicated there was almost a 99 percent chance the Fed would raise rates in December. Bond yields often reflect the actions of the Fed. If interest rates rise, bond prices move lower, resulting in a higher bond yields.