Weekly Market Commentary – October 31, 2016

The Markets

It’s almost over…

During July 2016, Pew Research reported almost 60 percent of Americans were suffering from election fatigue. They weren’t uninterested in the election. They were just worn out by never-ending news coverage that focused on candidates’ comments, personal lives, and standing in the polls rather than their moral character, experience, and stance on issues.

Last week, U.S. election news overshadowed positive economic data causing U.S. stocks to lose value as investors shifted assets into safe havens. Early on Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released gross domestic product data, which reflects the value of all goods and services produced in the United States during the period. Initial estimates suggest the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, an improvement on second quarter’s 1.4 percent growth. Consumer spending continued to be the primary driver of growth in the United States.

Markets moved higher on the news, only to retreat when the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it is looking at new evidence in the Clinton email investigation. Financial Times wrote:

Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton’s Republican challenger, had fallen dramatically in the polls in recent weeks: market strategists said this had eased uncertainty given the real estate businessman’s controversial views on trade and immigration. However, the news of the new probe – just 11 days before the presidential election – has sparked fresh tumult.

Financial Times indicated the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a.k.a. the fear index, moved higher on Friday. The index measures the anticipated volatility of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index over the next 30 days. In addition, U.S. Treasury yields, which had been increasing on rumors the European Central Bank might begin to taper its quantitative easing program, dipped lower.

The next few weeks are likely to be bumpy for investors. During times like these, it’s critical to keep your eye on your long-term financial objectives. We’ve weathered volatile times before, and we will get through them again.

Data as of 10/28/16

1-Week

YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s (Domestic Stocks)

-0.7%

4.0% 1.7% 6.5% 10.6%

4.4%

Dow Jones Global ex-US

-0.6

2.1 -1.5 -3.2 1.0

-0.6

10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.9

N/A 2.1 2.5 2.3

4.7

Gold (per ounce)

0.6

19.8 7.9 -2.2 -6.1

7.7

Bloomberg Commodity Index -0.2 9.4 -2.0 -12.2 -10.7 -6.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 3.3 5.2 5.4 9.1 11.1 5.0

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Ooooh! Some States’ estate taxes are scary!

Most Americans aren’t too concerned about federal estate taxes. After all, 99.8 percent won’t have estates large enough to be subject to the tax. For 2016, the estate tax threshold is $5.45 million (double that amount for a married couple) and it is expected to be $5.49 million in 2017 (barring any changes to the tax code).

At the state level, it’s a different story. Kiplinger’s explained:

However, state estate taxes, which kick in for estates valued at only $1.5 million or less in several states, could take a big bite out of your legacy. Your home and retirement accounts will be counted when your estate is valued for tax purposes, and proceeds from your life insurance could be counted, too, depending on how the policy is owned and who gets the money.

The Tax Foundation reports, in all, 15 states and the District of Columbia have estate taxes. They included:

  • Connecticut ($2 million exemption and 7.2 percent to 12 percent estate tax rates)
  • Delaware ($5.4 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Hawaii ($5.4 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Illinois ($4 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Maine ($2 million exemption and 8 percent to 12 percent estate tax rates)
  • Maryland ($1.5 million exemption and 16 percent estate tax rate)
  • Massachusetts ($1 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Minnesota ($1.4 million exemption and 9 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • New Jersey ($675,000 exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • New York ($3.1 million exemption and 3.1 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Oregon ($1 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Rhode Island ($1.5 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Tennessee ($5 million exemption and 5.5 percent to 9.5 percent estate tax rates)
  • Vermont ($2.75 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)
  • Washington ($2.1 million exemption and 10 percent to 20 percent estate tax rates)
  • Washington DC ($1 million exemption and 0.8 percent to 16 percent estate tax rates)

While not all have estate taxes, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all have inheritance taxes. If you haven’t given much thought to estate planning, contact your financial professional. They can possibly help you find ways to minimize the taxes your estate and your heirs may owe.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”  –Winston S. Churchill, Former British Prime Minister

Sources:

  1. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/14/most-americans-already-feel-election-coverage-fatigue/
  2. https://www.ft.com/content/7e71f0f2-9d3d-11e6-8324-be63473ce146 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-31-16_FinancialTimes-Tremor_Over_Clinton_Emails_Gives_Glimpse_of_Market_View_of_Trump-Footnote_2.pdf)
  3. http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm
  4. http://www.cboe.com/micro/vix/faq.aspx#3
  5. https://www.ft.com/content/eca532dc-9ce8-11e6-a6e4-8b8e77dd083a (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-31-16_FinancialTimes-Bonds_Bloodied_as_Markets_Face_Worst_Month_in_3_Years-Footnote_5.pdf)
  6. http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2015/04/14/fact-check-estate-tax-hits-fewer-than-1-percent-of-estates
  7. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/frequently-asked-questions-on-estate-taxes?_ga=1.256260876.623466591.1477767498#amirequired
  8. http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/taxes/T021-S003-states-with-the-scariest-death-taxes/index.html
  9. http://taxfoundation.org/blog/does-your-state-have-estate-or-inheritance-tax
  10. http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/51-quotes-to-inspire-success-in-your-life-and-business.html

 

Weekly Market Commentary – October 24, 2016

The Markets

Verrrry interesting.

Arte Johnson’s catch phrase from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In may not have described U.S. stock markets last week, but there were some interesting economic, cyber-security, and consumer developments around the world.

Major U.S. stock indices finished the week slightly higher. Experts, cited by Barron’s, suggested markets seemed tired and were waiting for clarity around the U.S. election outcome, Federal Reserve rate increase, and corporate quarterly earnings.

Across the pond, opposition from Wallonia (a dairy-producing region of Belgium) killed trade negotiations between the European Union and Canada. The New York Times suggested the collapse of trade talks could signal a new chapter in modern history:

Liberalized trade has amplified economic growth, but the spoils have been largely monopolized by wealthy and corporate interests. Recriminations over the resulting economic inequalities are now so ferocious that modern history has been altered: The phase of globalization that began with the ending of World War II is essentially over.

Another modern development – the Internet Everything (think unsecured DVRs, CCTV cameras, baby monitors, home routers, and other unsecured devices) – may have helped facilitate a cyber attack on an Internet performance management company last Friday. The hack disrupted access to some major websites. Financial Times explained cyber criminals infected the devices without the owners’ knowledge.

Finally, we learned food doesn’t have to be gold-foiled to be outrageously expensive. AdWeek wrote:

…To go along with the supposed epicurean majesty of its beverage, St. Erik’s Brewery created a very high-class snack – potato chips featuring rare Nordic ingredients and sold in a pack of five for a whopping $56.

The first 100 boxes sold out in a week!

Data as of 10/21/16

1-Week

YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s (Domestic Stocks)

0.4%

4.8% 6.1% 7.1% 11.6%

4.5%

Dow Jones Global ex-US

0.8

2.7 -0.5 -3.0 2.5

-0.5

10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.7

N/A 2.0 2.6 2.2

4.8

Gold (per ounce)

1.1

19.2 8.5 -1.3 -5.1

8.1

Bloomberg Commodity Index -0.3 9.6 -2.4 -12.4 -9.9 -6.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 0.6 8.8 9.5 10.8 13.3 5.5

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

An unusual career opportunity.

Do you have a friend or family member who prioritizes blogging, tweeting, or posting videos above doing homework, attending family dinners, or going out? It’s possible they’ve recognized an economic opportunity you haven’t considered: social media marketing.

Many social media influencers are celebrities, and they’re paid well for including brands and products in their posts. A celebrity with 100,000 followers may receive $2,000 to $12,500 – depending on the social media platform – to mention a product or service. If they reach one million followers, that amount increases to $20,000 to $125,000.

Celebrities are not the only “influencers.” In fact, non-celebrities carry more weight with some consumers. A survey from CollectiveBias found:

…30 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product endorsed by a non-celebrity blogger than a celebrity. Of that number, 70 percent of 18 to 34 year-olds had the highest preference for “peer” endorsement.

Clearly, peer endorsements are valuable, too. Inc. suggested the going rate for social media influencers is $25 to $75 per thousand followers, and some people earn much more:

…It’s been reported that beauty guru [name removed] earns $3 million a year. Comedy duo [name removed] rakes in $8.5 million annually. And the richest influencer of them all, [name removed], earns a cool $12 million dollars a year.

Wielding influence online remains a relatively new industry and pay often depends on how valuable the influencer perceives his or her endorsement to be.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.  –Coco Chanel, Businesswoman and fashion designer

Sources:

  1. http://www.barrons.com/articles/after-a-bumpy-week-stocks-end-up-0-4-1477111153?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-24-16+_Barrons-After_a_Bumpy_Week_Stocks_End_Up_0.4_Percent-Footnote_1.pdf)
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/22/business/international/european-union-canada-trade-agreement-ceta.html?ref=economy (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-24-16_NYTimes-With_Europe-Canada_Deal_Near_Collapse_Globalizations_Latest_Chapter_is_History-Footnote_2.pdf)
  3. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/21/major-websites-across-east-coast-knocked-out-in-apparent-ddos-attack.html
  4. https://www.ft.com/content/1071b192-97ab-11e6-a1dc-bdf38d484582 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-24-16_FinancialTimes-What_Just_Hit_the_Internet-Footnote_4.pdf)
  5. http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/brewer-made-worlds-most-expensive-potato-chips-go-its-fancy-beer-174086
  6. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/10/daily-chart-9?cid1=cust/ddnew/n/n/n/20161017n/owned/n/n/nwl/n/n/NA/7889861/email&etear=dailydispatch (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-24-16_TheEconomist-Celebrities_Endorsement_Earnings_on_Social_Media-Footnote_6.pdf)
  7. http://collectivebias.com/blog/2016/03/influencer-marketing-update-non-celebrity-influencers-10-times-likely-drive-store-purchases/
  8. http://www.inc.com/amanda-pressner-kreuser/the-pricing-of-fame-what-social-influencers-are-getting-paid.html
  9. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/cocochanel384656.html

Weekly Market Commentary – October 17, 2016

The Markets

‘Tis the season!

Third quarter earnings season, that is.

Every quarter, companies report earnings to let investors know how profitable the companies were during the quarter. When profits grow, a company’s share price may move higher. When profits decline, a company’s share price may move lower.

For five consecutive quarters, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) has been in an earnings recession – the earnings for the companies in the index have declined every quarter. Another earnings decline is expected for the third quarter. As of September 30, analysts estimated a -2.0 percent earnings decline for the third quarter, according to FactSet.

A negative estimate doesn’t necessarily mean all S&P 500 companies will do poorly. Certain sectors of the market have been performing a lot worse than others. Of the 11 sectors in the S&P 500, only three – Energy, Industrials, and Telecommunication Services – were expected to have negative earnings. For example, on September 30, estimates suggested the Energy sector would experience a year-over-year earnings decline of -67.2 percent, while Utilities would see earnings growth of +5.3 percent.

Only 7 percent of S&P 500 companies have shared third quarter earnings so far. Through last week, Energy sector earnings were weaker than expected (-72.5 percent) and Utilities earnings were stronger (+6.1 percent). FactSet detailed S&P 500 companies’ performance through Friday:

…76 percent have reported actual EPS [earnings per share] above the mean EPS estimate, 3 percent have reported actual EPS equal to the mean EPS estimate, and 21 percent have reported actual EPS below the mean EPS estimate. The percentage of companies reporting EPS above the mean EPS estimate is above the 1-year (70 percent) average and above the 5-year (67 percent) average.

Fourth quarter offers a brighter earnings outlook. S&P 500 companies are expected to see profits increase. Analysts’ current estimates suggest earnings will be up 5.3 percent during the period.

Data as of 09/30/16

1-Week

YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s (Domestic Stocks)

-1.0%

4.4% 7.6% 117% 4.5%

4.8%

Dow Jones Global ex-US

-1.4

1.9 -0.5 -2.5 2.3

-0.5

10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.8

N/A 2.0 2.7 2.2

4.8

Gold (per ounce)

-0.6

17.8 6.6 -0.9 -5.7

7.7

Bloomberg Commodity Index 0.8 9.9 -4.2 -12.4 -10.2 -6.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 1.4 8.2 12.3 11.5 14.0 5.5

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Maybe More Americans Should Study Communications.

Parents aren’t all that comfortable talking with their children about certain topics. The T. Rowe Price 2016 Parents, Kids & Money Survey found that sex and death are at the top of the list, followed closely by family finances. That’s right: family finances. Parents are more comfortable talking about terrorism, drugs, and bullying than they are talking about money!

A shortage of conversation may be at the root of some financial misunderstandings. For instance, when it comes to paying for college, 62 percent of children (ages 8 to 14) expect their parents to cover the entire cost of any college the child chooses. Yet, just 12 percent of parents said they would be able to pay the full cost of college. In addition, 67 percent of children said their parents are setting money aside so they can attend college. However, only 58 percent of parents reported they are saving money to pay for their children’s college.

The disconnect between children’s expectations and parents’ reality may explain why 16 percent of parent respondents said they had used retirement savings to pay for college expenses and 11 percent expect to do so.

Remarkably, college isn’t the only non-retirement expense where parents have spent their retirement savings. Funds earmarked for retirement have been used to pay for vacations (17 percent), holidays (15 percent), day-to-day expenses (13 percent), and weddings (8 percent).

Communication is critical. If you haven’t talked with your children about money, it may be a good time to start. There are a lot of resources available to help you. Give your financial professional a call for advice in this area of your portfolio.

Additionally, if you have been using retirement assets for other purposes, it may be time to implement and adhere to a financial plan. Doing so may help you arrive at retirement with enough money to live comfortably.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.  –Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Sources:

  1. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/earnings.asp
  2. https://www.factset.com/websitefiles/PDFs/earningsinsight/earningsinsight_10.14.16
  3. https://corporate.troweprice.com/Money-Confident-Kids/Site/Media/Resources/Articles/2016-pkm-survey-supplemental-results-summary (Slides used are 37 and 53)
  4. https://corporate.troweprice.com/Money-Confident-Kids/Site/Media/Resources/Articles/2016-pkm-survey-results-summary (Slides used are 10, 14, 15, 28, and 30)
  5. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/warrenbuff161460.html

Weekly Market Commentary – October 10, 2016

The Markets

Was it good news or wasn’t it?

The U.S. unemployment rate ticked higher last week. The September jobs report showed the United States added 156,000 new jobs in September. That was 16,000 fewer than economists were expecting and 11,000 fewer than were added in August, according to Barron’s.

That doesn’t sound like good news, does it?

On the other hand, the report showed more people are working and looking for jobs. Also, wages increased so people are earning more. The Wall Street Journal wrote:

The report – marked by a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to 5 percent – largely fit the narrative Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen laid out for the labor market after the central bank’s September policy meeting. People are rejoining the labor force in search of work. Many of them are finding jobs, but not all…Ms. Yellen sees the return of workers to the job search process as a healthy sign.

That sounds like good news, right?

The jobs report seemed to support the conclusion of The New York Times that there are two economic realities in the United States, “…healthy hiring and falling unemployment on the one hand, millions of economically sidelined Americans on the other…”

Uncertainty surrounding the jobs report caused U.S. stock markets to fall last week.

Data as of 09/30/16

1-Week

YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s (Domestic Stocks)

-0.7%

5.4% 7.9% 8.7% 13.3%

4.8%

Dow Jones Global ex-US

-0.4

3.3 1.4 -1.6 3.5

-0.2

10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.7

N/A 2.1 2.6 2.1

4.7

Gold (per ounce)

-4.7

18.6 10.1 -1.6 -5.3

8.2

Bloomberg Commodity Index 0.4 9.0 -5.0 -12.6 -9.6 -6.2
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -5.2 6.7 10.4 11.9 15.1 5.5

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Is It A Cyclical Rotation?

Economic growth may not be predictable, but it tends to follow a pattern that is known as a business or economic cycle. Periods of recession (when the economy contracts) are followed by periods of growth (when the economy expands).

Some companies and market sectors tend to perform better during economic expansions. They’re known as cyclical companies, and they make goods or deliver services – entertainment, automobiles, vacations, and so on – that people want to buy when they’re feeling prosperous. Generally, people feel prosperous during periods of economic expansion. Other companies are called ‘defensive.’ They offer goods or services – food, beverages, personal products, and so on – that people need regardless of their wealth or economic conditions.

In recent months, we’ve seen what may be a rotation from defensive market sectors into cyclical ones. Financial Times explained the shift in U.S. markets:

The shift signals investors are worrying about high prices for the defensive, dividend-paying stocks that were in heavy demand in the first half as worries over the outlook for the global economy dominated…Indications of a potential rate increase this year and hopes that economic growth was improving were making unloved, cyclical parts of the market look more attractive.

If you look at returns for the first three quarters of the year, cyclical stocks and defensive stocks delivered almost the same performance. Through September 30, 2016, the MSCI ACWI Cyclical Sectors Index was up 4.8 percent and the MSCI ACWI Defensive Sectors Index was up 4.7 percent. The trend appears when you look at the numbers during the third quarter. During July, August, and September, cyclical sectors were up 8.2 percent and defensive sectors were down 0.7 percent!

It appears to be a cyclical rotation.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.  –William Shakespeare, British playwright

Sources:

  1. http://blogs.barrons.com/incomeinvesting/2016/10/07/september-payrolls-disappoint-mildly-unemployment-rises-to-5/
  2. http://www.wsj.com/articles/hilsenrath-jobs-data-ensures-no-fed-rate-increase-in-november-1475846564 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-10-16_WSJ-Hilsenrath_Jobs_Data_Ensures_No_Fed_Rate_Increase_in_November-Footnote_2.pdf)
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/business/economy/jobs-report-unemployment-wages.html?_r=0 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-10-16_NYTimes-US_Economy_Showing_Resilience_Added_156000_Jobs_Last_Month-Footnote_3.pdf)
  4. http://www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html
  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/finance/investment-library/low-risk-investments/10911755/stock-sectors-cyclical-defensive.html
  6. https://www.ft.com/content/724e9658-72d7-11e6-bf48-b372cdb1043a (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-10-16_FinancialTimes-Tech_and_Financials_Lead_Rotation_in_US_Stocks-Footnote_6.pdf)
  7. https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-10-16_MSCI-09-30-16_End_of_Day_Data_Search-Footnote_7.pdf)
  8. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamsha164317.html

Weekly Market Commentary – October 3, 2016

The Markets

Markets were relatively calm during the third quarter of 2016, yet they delivered some attractive returns overall.

In the United States, all three major U.S. indices posted record highs twice during a single 7-day period in August, reported CNBC.com. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) experienced a 51-day streak without at least a 1 percent decline. The index returned 3.3 percent in the third quarter.

Investors were fairly complacent until comments by Federal Reserve officials raised awareness the Fed might raise rates during 2016, possibly as early as September. The S&P 500 lost 2.5 percent and the VIX, known as the market’s fear gauge, rose 40 percent in a single day. The upheaval was short-lived and U.S. stocks rebounded quickly.

World markets were moved higher after the Fed opted to maintain its current policy. When the European Central Bank did the same – choosing not to implement further stimulus measures – markets moved lower. Markets were also less than enthused with the plans put forth by the Bank of Japan (BOJ). The central bank will attempt to control the yield curve by keeping 10-year Japanese government bonds at zero percent.

The BOJ’s goal is to push inflation to 2 percent, reported Reuters. However, some analysts believe the new policy may be less accommodative than the old one. Experts cited by Financial Times said,

On the face of it the BOJ has arguably, by setting the [Japanese Government Bond] curve at its current level, just announced a modest tightening in monetary conditions relative to where they were in the summer.

Speculation about a September rate hike caused many emerging markets, which have been top performers throughout the year, to give back some gains late in the quarter. When the U.S. central bank pushes rates higher, emerging market assets become relatively less attractive to investors seeking yield. In addition, a rate hike tends to strengthen the U.S. dollar, inflating the value of dollar-denominated debt held by emerging countries and potentially slowing economic growth.

Brazil has been a top performer during 2016, despite recession and political upheaval. President Dilma Rousseff was impeached in September. Her successor, Michel Temer plans to enact fiscal reforms he hopes will bring about a mild economic recovery by 2017. Director of Latin America Strategy for Templeton Emerging Markets Group Gustavo Stenzel explained, “We believe Brazil offers a salient example of how political change can accelerate a turnaround in an economy and stock market.”

Worries about China’s economic stability receded during the quarter, Reuters explained:

Recent economic data has shown signs of recovery in China’s economy. Industrial sector profits jumped 20 percent in August, the best showing in three years, while a Reuters poll showed manufacturing sector activity likely expanded modestly for a second straight month in September. But many investors remain skeptical about the sustainability of a recovery that they believe has depended on government stimulus.

At the end of the quarter, emerging markets moved higher after OPEC announced a preliminary agreement to limit production. It was the first production cut in eight years. The agreement boosted oil and energy stocks in countries around the world.

The fourth quarter of 2016 may be a bumpy one. The U.S. election has the potential to cause some upheaval, as does a rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

Data as of 09/30/16

1-Week

YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s (Domestic Stocks)

0.2%

6.1% 12.9% 8.8% 13.9%

5.0%

Dow Jones Global ex-US

-0.9

3.8 7.4 -1.5 3.9

-0.2

10-Year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.6

N/A 2.1 2.6 1.9

4.6

Gold (per ounce)

-1.2

24.5 18.7 -0.1 -4.0

8.2

Bloomberg Commodity Index 1.2 8.6 -2.8 -12.4 -9.5 -6.0
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -1.7 12.5 21.2 13.9 15.9 6.4

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Laugh then think – HARDER.

The Ig® Nobel Prizes were awarded last week. The prizes celebrate some of the most imaginative, unusual, and peculiar scientific achievements of the year. For 2016, the winners included:

  • Economics: Journalism and marketing professors from New Zealand and Britain for their work in marketing theory. The winning paper was entitled, “The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale.”
  • Physics: A slew of Hungarian, Spanish, Swedish, and Swiss researchers for dual discoveries. They explored and confirmed the reasons that white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof, as well as the reasons dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.
  • Chemistry: A certain German automobile manufacturer for “…solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.”
  • Medicine: German researchers who authored a paper titled, “Itch Relief by Mirror Scratching. A Psychophysical Study.” Apparently, anyone with an itch on the left side of the body can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of the body, and vice versa.
  • Biology: A Brit who built prosthetic limb extensions with plastic hooves and wore a helmet to romp and butt heads with goats during the three days that he lived among them. His co-winner was another British Islander who lived in the wild as a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird.

The winners’ accomplishments were celebrated at Harvard University where winners “physically receive their prizes and a handshake from genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel laureates.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It

I have lived as a badger in a hole in a Welsh wood, as an otter in the rivers of Exmoor, an urban fox rummaging through the dustbins of London’s East End, a red deer in the West Highlands of Scotland and on Exmoor, and, most hubristically, a swift, oscillating between Oxford and West Africa…Why I did this is not an unreasonable question. There are many answers. One is that I wanted to perceive landscapes more accurately. We have at least five senses. By and large we use only one of them – vision. That’s a shame…I suspect it’s responsible for lots of our uncertainty about the sort of creatures we are, our personal crises, and the frankly psychopathic way in which most of us treat the natural world. — Charles Foster, Ig Nobel Prize winner