The Independent Market Observer

A Start to Remember for the Markets

March 1, 2024

In my last blog, I talked about how strong Januarys historically tend to lead to strong returns throughout the remainder of the year. But I also noted there could be a bit of volatility in February. To my surprise, this turned out to be one of the better Februarys the S&P 500 has ever had, finishing the month up 5.17 percent.

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A Portfolio Manager’s View on Markets

February 22, 2024

Most people know Yogi Berra as the Hall of Fame catcher and 10-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees. Many also know him as an unintentional philosopher, with famous quotations including “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” One Yogi saying I find myself thinking about frequently is this: “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Here, Yogi was referring to a popular restaurant in Fort Lauderdale where the Yankees were having spring training. But it seems applicable to the conversations that we have daily. 

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Looking Back at the Markets in January and Ahead to February 2024

February 6, 2024

In general, markets edged up last month. U.S. markets continued their rally at a slower pace as interest rates bounced around, which also constrained fixed income returns. International markets were more mixed, with developed international markets roughly even and emerging markets down, primarily due to weak performance in China.

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Digesting the Fed: Committee Members Need More Time

February 1, 2024

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met this week and voted unanimously to hold rates steady for the fourth consecutive meeting, leaving its policy range at 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent. This outcome was confidently priced into futures markets leading up to the meeting, so the committee’s decision comes as no surprise.

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Market Outlook: Strong January, Strong Year?

February 1, 2024

Thus far, market momentum has carried over from 2023 into 2024. Things started slow, with the S&P 500 closing down more than 1.5 percent during the first week of the year. But it has since rebounded sharply, hitting several new all-time highs in the process and closing the month of January up 1.59 percent.

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Will India Steal China’s Thunder Within Emerging Markets?

January 18, 2024

Emerging markets may not always be top of mind when building portfolios, but their importance to global growth should not be ignored. In the International Monetary Fund (IMF) October Global Forecast, the IMF noted that advanced economies’ contribution has slowed from a peak of 38 percent of global economic growth in 2006 to an expected 15 percent in 2023. Over the same time frame, emerging and middle-income economies have risen from 58 percent of global growth to an expected 78 percent of global growth in 2023. 

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Q4 2023 Earnings Preview: A Glass Half-Full for 2024?

January 11, 2024

Making New Year’s resolutions usually involves some level of reflection on how to be a better person and the possibilities ahead. You might write down your goals for the future, while also looking back on your accomplishments (and failures). In doing so, you may find growth where you didn’t expect it, even if it comes in the form of small wins toward your bigger goals.

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Can Market Momentum Continue into the Election Year?

January 10, 2024

Today, I’d like to revisit a key point from my November blog post—the market’s run to end the year—and then cap it off with some historical election year data.

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Navigating Uncertainty: What We’re Hearing from Portfolio Managers

January 8, 2024

When I speak to folks interested in a financial services career, I tell them the best thing about it is that every day is different. This is something that the economy and the markets have made abundantly clear over the past few years. I also often think back to a TV show from the late 1990s, Early Edition, where the main character gets the newspaper the day before it’s published and uses what he’s learned to help others. In challenging times, this might prove useful in finding investment success for clients. Alas, it’s not a resource we have at our disposal. But what we do have is insight from various portfolio managers across the industry.

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Looking Back at the Markets in December and Ahead to January 2024

January 5, 2024

Markets rose last month, continuing November’s rally as interest rates pulled back even more on expectations of Fed rate cuts in 2024. Markets in the U.S. were up by mid-single digits, finishing a solid quarter and a very strong year. International markets were also up substantially for the month, quarter, and year. And while stocks were hot, even fixed income posted enough gains to close out the year in the black. 2023 ended with a bang.

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Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

The S&P 500 Index is a broad-based measurement of changes in stock market conditions based on the average performance of 500 widely held common stocks. All indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index.

The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) Index is a free float‐adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The MSCI EAFE Index consists of 21 developed market country indices.

One basis point (bp) is equal to 1/100th of 1 percent, or 0.01 percent.

The VIX (CBOE Volatility Index) measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility across a wide range of S&P 500 options.

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