We, at Beacon Financial Strategies, believe strongly that the most effective investment strategy is one that is developed within the context of a financial plan and customized to meet your personal risk profile and return requirements. Click here to learn more about our investment philosophy.
Research has proven time and again that it is impossible to consistently time the financial markets, by exiting before trouble arises and re-entering just before the “all clear” signal. Nevertheless, we believe it is important to stay abreast (if you like) of recent market history because understanding shorter term market movements, can give you the confidence to stick with your long term investment plan.
First Quarter 2017 Index Data
The following table should give you an idea of how the financial markets have performed over the last 3 months. You will note that US stocks performed especially well, while the performance of most bonds and international stocks of developed economies were muted.
US Stock Market (Russell 3000 Index), International Developed Stocks (MSCI World ex USA Index [net div.]), Emerging Markets (MSCI Emerging Markets Index ), Global Real Estate (S&P Global REIT Index), US Bond Market (Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index), and Global Bond ex US Market (Citi WGBI ex USA 1−30 Years [Hedged to USD]).
How Did the Financial Headlines Impact Stocks?
The following chart shows the movement of the MSCI All Country World Index (an index that measures stock performance globally) over the course of the last twelve months. You will note that there are also a number of the major news headlines that may have impacted stock performance.
Domestic Stock Performance
In terms of the performance of stocks, the US equity markets have provided positive performance in both the short and long term.
You will note that there was wide disparity between those stocks that are considered “Growth” (normally stocks in sectors like technology, healthcare, etc.) and those that are classified as “Value” stocks (normally stocks in sectors like financials, energy, etc.). Find below, performance data for various categories of US Stocks:
Domestic Stock Index Data: Large Cap (S&P 500 Index), Large Cap Value (Russell 1000 Value Index), Large Cap Growth (Russell 1000 Growth Index), Small Cap (Russell 2000 Index), Small Cap Value (Russell 2000 Value Index), and Small Cap Growth (Russell 2000 Growth Index)
International Stock Performance
In US dollar terms, developed markets outside the US lagged both the US equity market and emerging markets indices for the year.
Fixed Income (Bond) Performance
Interest rates were mixed across the US fixed income market during the first quarter of 2017. The yield on the 5-year Treasury note was unchanged, ending at 1.93%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note decreased 5 basis points (bps) to 2.40%. The 30-year Treasury bond yield decreased 4 bps to 3.02%.
The yield on the 1-year Treasury bill rose 18 bps to 1.03%, and the 2-year T-note yield increased 7 bps to 1.27%. The yield on the 3-month T-bill increased 25 bps to 0.76%, while the 6-month T-bill yield rose 29 bps to 0.91%.
Looking at total returns, short-term corporate bonds gained 0.69% and intermediate-term corporate bonds gained 1.16%.
Short-term municipal bonds generated a total return of 1.20%, while intermediate-term municipal bonds returned 1.91%. Revenue bonds performed in line with general obligation bonds.