Market Insights – Stock Market

February 5, 2018
Corrections are healthy for the market but that doesn’t make them pleasant.  Although we have not yet faced a full correction (defined as a 10% decline in prices), the S&P did experience a 3.9% pull back last week with a 2.1% decline on Friday alone (Bloomberg).  It’s the largest weekly decline since 2016 (Seeking Alpha).  We would like our clients to know the following information:

Increased volatility should not be a surprise as the market digests this information.  Volatility has been historically low for some time.  Our firm’s Portfolio Management Committee (PMC) met Tuesday and decided to make a change in our asset allocation directly impacting client accounts in advance of this pullback.  As a firm, we traded accounts to decrease exposure to high-yield bonds and increased exposure to real assets and infrastructure.  This re-balance also allowed us to align portfolios and take profits.  The increase in real assets was decided because they have historically been a hedge against inflation.  This action is in addition to our overseas allocation which also should serve as an inflation hedge.

We believe these economic principles may be the beginning of a longer-term trend that may continue for some time and have positioned portfolios accordingly.  We have talked about increases in interest rates for many years now, at it appears this may be where it begins to occur.  In our January newsletter we discussed the potential for increased volatility.  Volatility is not always a terrible thing.  Dips in prices allow us to deploy cash and buy into investments at a lower value.

Economic activity remains strong globally, the yield curve is starting to steepen, earnings remain strong, wages are increasing, the dollar has been weakening which narrow the gap in trade, and the tax cuts are just beginning to permeate through the economy.  For those reasons, we do not see the need for a larger change.  We will continue to monitor portfolios and adjust.  The market has been doing so well lately, this pullback is a reminder investing does involve risk and with potential returns comes the chance for losses like we experienced last week.  Building customized transparent portfolios with an emphasis on quality holdings is key to keeping emotions from guiding the decision-making process.  If you would like to discuss your portfolio in greater detail, please feel free to let us know.


Reese Veltenaar and Beth Tremaine

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