Much ink spilled these days—including by yours truly—tends to be of the macro variety. This is for good reason as studies have shown that macro forces have been greater determinants of asset class performance than traditional underlying fundamentals.
Since the Dow finally breached the 20k mark, equities have been largely range-bound. The enthusiasm seen in measures of investor sentiment following the election of Donald Trump has waned a bit as the realities of policy priorities—and getting things done in Washington—begin to set in.
In a unanimous vote, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) left interest rates unchanged at its two-day meeting which concluded today; however the statement noted rising confidence among business leaders and consumer in the period since the election.
The Dow's flirtation with 20k went on for weeks, with the financial networks breathlessly reporting on every tick as it approached the milestone—subjecting them to much lighthearted ridicule on Twitter and the like.
The world is changing for investors but we believe it's largely in a positive way, although there will be bumps along the way. The recent sideways equity movement was a healthy consolidation of the post-election gains, and we suggest investors add to U.S. equity positions as needed at the expense of some developed market international exposure. Inflation is ticking higher, and the Fed is becoming more hawkish, but the conditions supporting those moves are also positive supports for stock.
U.S. stocks have been consolidating gains seen in the aftermath of the November presidential election, a healthy process following such strong gains. Further appreciation should be supported by improving U.S. and global economic and earnings growth. Disappointments are likely on the U.S. policy front but we would view those as buying opportunities for now.
In conjunction with the publishing of a summary of Schwab's 2017 outlook across asset classes; this report is a more detailed summary of my 2017 outlook, with a dash of rear-view mirror analysis of the year just ended. Each of the broad topics discussed below will be further unpacked over the next couple of months in individual reports.
The Federal Reserve surprised no one today and the vote was unanimous. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the federal funds rate by 25 basis points—to a range of 0.50-0.75%—for the first time this year; having raised rates initially a year ago at this same time.
November turned out to be an excellent month for the major U.S. stock indexes, with all three, plus the Russell 2000 index of small caps, hitting record highs.
The stock market has had an excited run since the presidential election, with heightened optimism for growth looking ahead into 2017. Not to rain on the optimists’ parade, but there was actually ample evidence of improving growth before the election.