Monthly Economic Update August 2017: Wary Investors Amidst Domestic Turmoil & Foreign Conflict


Investors were in a wary mood during August, closely following the escalating conflict between the U.S. and North Korea and the domestic turmoil that has put a broad range of government policy changes on hold. Market volatility spiked and the U.S. dollar weakened on days when the news was particularly grim. Despite a steady flow of positive economic data and another healthy earnings season, stock markets were mixed. Large capitalization growth stocks, notably in the technology and health care sectors, and a handful of battered emerging markets gained ground, but smaller and commodity-related stocks lost money. Fixed income markets were relatively stable but Treasuries, a traditional safe-haven for investors, and high quality corporate and municipal bonds, outperformed higher yielding sectors. Commodities were mixed as gains in gold and industrial metals were offset by falling oil and agriculture prices.

The global economy is expanding at the fastest pace in years. The U.S. and China both benefited from positive data surprises suggesting that worries of a slowdown may have been overdone. Consumer and business confidence are at peak levels. Second quarter U.S. GDP growth was revised upward to 3% on the back of strong consumer spending and business investment. Consumers are spending more and saving less. Recent retail sales have also been unexpectedly upbeat. However, wage growth is sluggish despite historically low unemployment and inflation is below the desired level in many countries, vexing central banks and potentially restraining future economic activity.

Economic Data

Market Returns

Disclaimers

This commentary was written by Noreen Johnston, CFA, Director of Research, and Daniel Cohen, Investment Analyst at Summit Equities, Inc. and Summit Financial Resources, Inc. Source of performance: Morningstar®. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. The investment and market data in this newsletter is not an offer to sell or purchase any security or commodity. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a market capitalization-weighted index comprising Treasury securities, Government agency bonds, mortgage backed bonds, corporate bonds, and some foreign bonds traded in the U.S. The Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index covers the U.S. dollar-denominated long-term tax-exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds, and pre-refunded bonds. The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Ex U.S. Index measures the performance of global investment grade fixed-rate debt markets that excludes USD-dominated securities. The Bloomberg Commodity Index measures the performance of the commodity sector representing an unleveraged, long-only investment in commodity futures that is broadly diversified, and primarily liquidity weighted. The Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index measures the performance of the real estate sector of the U.S. equity market. It includes companies in the following industries: real estate holding and development and Real Estate Investment Trusts. The Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index measures the performance of all U.S. headquartered equities with readily available price data. It is market capitalization-weighted and is designed to track the overall performance of the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 Index is a market capitalization-weighted Index of 500 widely held stocks often used as a proxy for the stock market. It measures the movement of the largest issues. Standard and Poor’s chooses the member companies for the 500 based on market size, liquidity and industry group representation. Included are the stocks of industrial, financial, utility, and transportation companies. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. The Russell 2000 Index is a subset of the Russell 3000 Index representing approximately 10% of the total market capitalization of that index. It includes approximately 2,000 of the smallest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership. The MSCI EAFE Index (Europe, Australasia, Far East) 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 Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure equity market performance in the global emerging markets. Information throughout this Newsletter or any other statement(s) regarding markets or other financial information are obtained from sources which we and our suppliers believe to be reliable, but we do not warrant or guarantee the timeliness or accuracy of this information. Neither we nor our information providers shall be liable for any errors or inaccuracies, regardless of cause, or the lack of timeliness of, or for any delay or interruption in the transmission thereof to the reader. To unsubscribe from this investment newsletter please reply to this email with “unsubscribe” in the subject. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended to be investment advice or a guarantee of future performance. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Summit Equities, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC, and Financial Planning Services offered through Summit Equities, Inc.’s affiliate Summit Financial Resources, Inc. 4 Campus Drive, Parsippany, NJ 07054. Tel. 973-285-3600, Fax: 973-285-3666.

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