The Independent Market Observer

Q1 2024 Earnings Season Kickoff: The Unofficial Start to Spring

April 9, 2024

Living in New England, the weather can be inconsistent—so I never really trust that warm days could be here to stay until the second week of April. Watching the Masters this Thursday and seeing the beautifully manicured greens and blooming azaleas will get me excited for golf season (even if the grass isn’t as green up here and the weather is still in the 40s). But along with the start of spring and golf season, we also get ready to kick off the earnings season.

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Looking Back at the Markets in Q1 and Ahead to Q2 2024

April 4, 2024

March was another positive month for markets, continuing the rally to start the year. Improving corporate fundamentals and a supportive economic backdrop drove solid single-digit returns for U.S. markets during the month. This capped off a strong quarter for U.S. stocks, an encouraging sign that the economic and market momentum from 2023 has carried over into 2024.

While stocks performed well during the month and quarter, fixed income was a bit more mixed. Investment-grade bonds were up in March but ended modestly down for the quarter due to rising interest rates. High-yield bonds, typically less driven by interest rate movements, ended both March and the quarter in positive territory.

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Continued Momentum for the S&P 500?

April 3, 2024

My last blog was titled “A Start to Remember for the Markets”—and it’s a story that continues to play out as we move further into 2024. With March’s closing price, the S&P 500 is now up 10.16 percent on the year. Today, we’ll look at a few different aspects of the S&P 500, including its 2024 Q1 return and its five-month return, as well as the relative strength index. 

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Digesting the Fed: Markets and the Fed Seeing Eye to Eye (For Now)

March 21, 2024

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met this week and voted unanimously to hold rates steady for the fifth consecutive meeting, leaving its policy range at 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent. This came as no surprise, with futures markets indicating a near-zero percent chance of a rate cut in the days and weeks leading up to the decision.

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What’s Worrying Investors?

March 14, 2024

Every year or two, a new round of worries crops up. Some of them are real—the war in Ukraine, inflation, politics—but a surprising number are not. The challenge, of course, is telling which is which. 

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Q4 2023 Earnings: The Winter Thaw Has Begun

March 12, 2024

I love spending time outdoors—except when it’s 20 degrees outside. For me, winter in Boston is a time to focus on self-improvement, whether that’s working on fitness goals or taking a class, so I can enjoy the warm weather when it finally arrives. Still, the winter can seem very long, as did 2022 and 2023 for many businesses. Companies saw margins contract, sought to lower their debt loads as rates rose, and made efforts to right-size their businesses for what seemed like an oncoming recession.

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International Women’s Day: Investing in Women

March 8, 2024

Since the 1980s, we have celebrated and honored female trailblazers, who have shaped our history and advocated for change, during Women’s History Month. Today, March 8, is no exception, as we celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing women’s global achievements and contributions to history, culture, and society. International Women’s Day also serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggles women face in the modern workplace, including gender equality, pay equity, and the lack of visibility of women in leadership positions.

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

March 5, 2024

February was a good month for stocks, with most markets up in the low- to mid-single digits on positive economic and earnings news. The riskiest indices, the Nasdaq and emerging markets, performed especially well as investors stayed risk-on. Fixed income, on the other hand, generally declined as interest rates rose significantly during the month on fading hopes for Fed rate cuts. These results reflected the broader economy in different ways. But, where growth continues, so does inflation.

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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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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.

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