The road to interest rate normalization in 2017

Holland 150 x 150Tim Holland, CFA, Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

Since 1965, the Fed has implemented policy tightening 15 times and the impact on the bond market has not always translated into longer rates rising. For example, in 2004 the Fed began raising rates in response to concerns of a housing bubble. As a result, the bond market did well as the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell.

More recently, during the current market cycle, the Fed increased rates by 25 basis points in December 2015. The 10-year Treasury yield fell and the bond market generated a positive return while equities plummeted in the first quarter of 2016. A year later, the Fed increased rates by 25 basis points in December 2016. The impact on markets was minimal with both equities and fixed income generating strong positive returns in the two months that followed. Year to date, equities and bonds have rallied in the face of two rate increases by the Fed; first in March and then in June. We expect one more rate increase in 2017.

shutterstock_124163875 resizedCatalysts for higher interest rates

Many positive factors are currently present in the U.S. economy that justify and support a move toward interest rate normalization:

  • Stable U.S. economic growth. U.S. economic growth has been modest but steady. The new administration and an all-Republican government will try to stimulate the economy through reflationary policies including tax cuts, infrastructure spending and a more benign regulatory environment.
  • Supportive credit environment. High yield credit spreads have meaningfully contracted and are back to the tight levels we saw in 2014.
  • Inflation expectations. Historically, there has been a strong positive correlation between interest rates and inflation. Many of the anticipated policies of the Trump administration are inflationary. In addition, the Brinker Capital investment team believes the economy is in the second half of the business cycle, which is typically characterized by wage growth and increased capital expenditures—both of which eventually translate into higher prices. We expect inflation expectations to move higher.
  • Unemployment levels. The labor market has become stronger and is nearing full employment. Unemployment has dropped to a level last seen in 2001.

A rising rate environment should prove challenging for some areas of fixed income.  However, fixed income can serve as the ballast for a broadly diversified portfolio and a good counter to equity market volatility.  Our fixed income exposure is focused on strategies with below average duration and a yield cushion.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Does Brexit still mean Brexit? The UK election result and what it means for the markets.

Holland_Podcast_150x126Tim Holland, CFA, Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

On this week’s podcast (recorded June 16, 2017), Tim addresses the political dynamic in the UK and the impact the recent election – and its rather surprising outcome – might have on Brexit and global markets.

Quick hits:

  • On June 8, U.K. voters went to the polls and confounded the experts and the pollsters by moving away from the ruling Conservative Party and embracing the Labour Party.
  • Despite all of the political drama, we still see Brexit moving forward and the U.K. exiting the European Union.
  • Near term, we also see the unexpected and unsettling U.K. election results potentially aiding pro EU, pro establishment political parties across Europe.
  • In the U.S., we don’t envision any meaningful economic or market impact from the political upheaval in the U.K.

For Tim’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A quick review of May markets

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Leigh Lowman, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded June 9, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of May markets.

Quick hits:

  • Risk assets continued with their upward momentum, generally finishing positive for the month.
  • Politics dominated headlines with the spotlight on the Trump administration.
  • Overseas, international markets reacted positively to the French election win of Macron, known for his moderate political stance.
  • Expectations have strengthened for an additional Fed rate hike in June.
  • We currently find a number of factors supportive of the economy and markets.

For Leigh’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

 

June 2017 market and economic review and outlook

Lowman_150x150pxLeigh Lowman, Investment Manager

Risk assets continued with their upward momentum, generally finishing positive for the month. Politics dominated headlines with the spotlight on the Trump administration. Speculation on whether the president interfered with a FBI investigation caused equities to drop mid-month only to quickly rebound based on the strength of positive fundamentals. Overseas, international markets reacted positively to the French election win of Macron, known for his moderate political stance. Expectations have strengthened for an additional Fed rate hike in June as domestic data leans positive with inflation remaining under control and the economy close to full employment.

The S&P 500 Index was up 1.4%. Sector performance was mixed with technology (+4.4%) and utilities (+4.2%) posting the largest gains for the month. On the negative side, energy (-3.4%), financials (-1.2%) and telecom (-1.0%) continued to lag and are all negative year to date. Small caps, which have shown to be more dependent on the “Trump Trade”, finished the month negative and significantly lag large and mid cap stocks year to date. Growth outperformed value and leads year to date.

Developed international equity was up 3.8%, outperforming domestic equities for the third month in a row. The positive outcome of French election boosted markets but much uncertainty currently surrounds the Italian general election with the populist and mainstream parties currently neck-and-neck in the polls. Consumer confidence in the UK also rose but still remains in negative territory as Brexit proceedings continue to move forward. Data from Japan came in positive with a rebound in industrial production and uptrend in housing starts. Emerging markets remained resilient, posting a 3% return, despite the political chaos erupting out of Brazil during the month.

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The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index was up 0.8%, with all sectors posting positive returns. Despite rising 15 basis points mid-month, the 10 Year Treasury yield ended the month slightly below where it began, at 2.2%. High yield spreads remained relatively unchanged, contracting 8 basis points. TIPS were flat due in part to inflation data coming in below expectations. Municipals were up 1.6%.

We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term, although we acknowledge we are in the later innings of the bull market and the second half of the business cycle. While our macro outlook is biased in favor of the positives and recession is not our base case, especially considering the potential of reflationary policies from the new administration, the risks must not be ignored.

We find a number of factors supportive of the economy and markets over the near term.

  • Reflationary fiscal policies: Despite a rocky start, we still expect fiscal policy expansion out of the Trump Administration, potentially including some combination of tax cuts, repatriation of foreign sourced profits, increased infrastructure and defense spending, and a more benign regulatory environment.
  • Global growth improving: U.S. economic growth remains moderate and there are signs growth outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets, is improving.
  • Business confidence has increased: Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism have spiked since the election. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth.
  • Global monetary policy remains accommodative: The Federal Reserve is taking a careful approach to monetary policy normalization. ECB and Bank of Japan balance sheets expanded in 2016 and central banks remain supportive of growth.

However, risks facing the economy and markets remain, including:

  • Administration unknowns: While the upcoming administration’s policies are currently being viewed favorably, uncertainties remain. The market may be too optimistic that all of the pro-growth policies anticipated will come to fruition. The Administration has quickly shifted from healthcare to tax reform legislation. We are unsure how Trump’s trade policies will develop, and there is the possibility for geopolitical missteps.
  • Risk of policy mistake: The Federal Reserve has begun to slowly normalize monetary policy, but the future path of rates is still unclear. Should inflation move significantly higher, there is also the risk that the Fed falls behind the curve. The ECB and the Bank of Japan could also disappoint market participants by tapering policy accommodation too early.

The technical backdrop of the market is favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and we have seen some acceleration in global economic growth. So far Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and investor and business confidence has improved. We expect higher volatility as we digest the onset of new policies under the Trump administration and the actions of central banks, but our view on risk assets remains positive over the intermediate term. Higher volatility can lead to attractive pockets of opportunity we can take advantage of as active managers.

Investment Insights Podcast: Will the drama in Washington, DC upend the economic recovery and market rally?

Holland_Podcast_150x126Tim Holland, CFA, Senior Vice President, Global Investment Strategist

On this week’s podcast (recorded June 2, 2017), Tim addresses a question top of mind for many investors.

Quick hits:

  • When it comes to politics, Brinker Capital is agnostic. Our focus is on understanding the economic and political environment we are operating in, while best positioning our portfolios regardless of the party in power.
  • We see the Trump Administration’s agenda as largely supportive of an optimistic outlook on the U.S. economy and market.
  • If Republicans fail in advancing their legislative agenda, risk assets should still benefit from two significant political tail winds:
    1. A more benign regulatory environment
    2. Certainty around federal tax rates
  • While the economic recovery and bull market are both long lived, we continue to see the weight of the evidence as supporting further expansion and price gains.

For Tim’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: One market has made some major headlines in recent days: Bitcoin

Rosenberger_Podcast

Andrew Rosenberger, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded May 30, 2017), Andy discusses how Bitcoin isn’t necessarily something that we consider a long-term investable asset for our client portfolios, but it’s certainly been an attention grabber as of late.

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Quick hits:

  • After crossing the $2,200 per bitcoin mark on Monday, I had no less than 3 separate conversations after an article was released on how if you had purchased $100 dollars worth of bitcoin in 2010, it would be worth $72.9 million dollars today.
  • Bitcoin is a digital currency, not backed by any central government or entity, and it relies on a community of supporters to maintain the infrastructure.
  • The underlying technology behind bitcoin is getting the attention of many major players including banks, credit card companies, and technology giants.

For Andy’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: Recent rally in European stocks

Jeff Raupp, CFARaupp_Podcast_Graphic, Director of Investments

Year to date, we’ve seen European stocks rally over 15%, just about double the return of the S&P 500 index.

So what’s not to like?

Listen to the latest Investment Insights Podcast to learn about Brinker Capital’s perspective on European stocks.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Investment Insights Podcast: A quick review of April markets

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Leigh Lowman, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded May 5, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of April markets.

Quick hits:

  • After drifting lower for most of the month, risk assets rallied at the end of April and finished in positive territory.
  • The French election spurred a rebound in markets when both Republican and Socialist candidates were edged out in favor of a Centralist candidate.
  • On the domestic side, markets were relatively quiet.
  • We currently find a number of factors currently supportive of the economy and markets.

For Leigh’s full insights, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

 

May 2017 market and economic review and outlook

lowman

Leigh Lowman, Investment Manager

After drifting lower for most of the month, risk assets rallied at the end of April and finished in positive territory. The French election spurred a rebound in markets when both Republican and Socialist candidates were edged out in favor of centralist candidate, Emmanuel Macron. The election has yet to go into the second round but political uncertainty has decreased as the French voting population appears to be favoring a more moderate political vision. On the domestic side, markets were relatively quiet. Data continued to lean positive with stablizing inflation expectations, continued growth in home prices and elevated consumer sentiment.  Business confidence continued to surge as expectations remain high on the Trump administration’s economic plan but much uncertainty still remains on the administration’s ability to deliver on its promised fiscal growth policies.

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The S&P 500 Index was up 1.0%.  Cyclical sectors outperformed more defensive sectors. Technology (+2.5%) posted the largest gain and leads year to date by a wide margin.  Consumer discretionary (+2.4%) and industrials (1.8%) also posted strong returns for the month.  Energy continued to lag and is down -9.4% year to date.  Both telecom (-3.3%) and financials (-0.8%) were negative for the month. Growth outperformed value for the fourth consecutive month and small cap led both large and mid cap, a reversal from last month.

Developed international equity was up 2.6% for the month, outperforming domestic equities. Positive news surrounding the French election boosted markets but problems remained in other areas within the European Union. UK economic data exhibited signs of weakening as Brexit continues to loom over the economy and debt levels of both Italy and Greece remain problematic. Economic data in Japan showed signs of improvement during the month but growth continues to move at a slow pace.  Emerging markets performed in line with developed markets. The region posted positive returns of 2.2%, fueled by strong growth in China and dissipating fears of US protectionism.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index was up 0.8% for the month with all sectors posting positive returns. The 10 year Treasury yield contracted 10 basis points, ending the month at 2.3%. After slightly widening last month, high yield spreads narrowed 12 basis points. Municipal bonds performed in line with taxable bonds, up 0.7%.  Increased demand and limited supply served as tailwinds for the asset class.

We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term, although we acknowledge we are in the later innings of the bull market and the second half of the business cycle. While our macro outlook is biased in favor of the positives and recession is not our base case, especially considering the potential of reflationary policies from the new administration, the risks must not be ignored.

We find a number of factors supportive of the economy and markets over the near term.

  • Reflationary fiscal policies: With the new administration and an all-Republican government, we expect fiscal policy expansion in 2017, including tax cuts, repatriation of foreign sourced profits, increased infrastructure and defense spending, and a more benign regulatory environment.
  • Global growth improving: U.S. economic growth remains moderate and there are signs that growth outside of the U.S., in both developed and emerging markets, is improving.
  • Business confidence has increased: Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism have spiked since the election. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth.
  • Global monetary policy remains accommodative: The Federal Reserve is taking a careful approach to monetary policy normalization. ECB and Bank of Japan balance sheets expanded in 2016 and central banks remain supportive of growth.

However, risks facing the economy and markets remain, including:

  • Administration unknowns: While the upcoming administration’s policies are currently being viewed favorably, uncertainties remain. The market may be too optimistic that all of the pro-growth policies anticipated will come to fruition. The Administration has quickly shifted from healthcare to tax reform legislation. We are unsure how Trump’s trade policies will develop, and there is the possibility for geopolitical missteps.
  • Risk of policy mistake: The Federal Reserve has begun to slowly normalize monetary policy, but the future path of rates is still unclear. Should inflation move significantly higher, there is also the risk that the Fed falls behind the curve. The ECB and the Bank of Japan could also disappoint market participants by tapering policy accommodation too early.

The technical backdrop of the market is favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and we have started to see some acceleration in global economic growth. So far Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and investor and business confidence has improved. We expect higher volatility to continue as we digest the onset of new policies under the Trump administration and the actions of central banks, but our view on risk assets remains positive over the intermediate term. Higher volatility can lead to attractive pockets of opportunity we can take advantage of as active managers.

Source: Brinker Capital. Views expressed are for informational purposes only. Holdings subject to change. Not all asset classes referenced in this material may be represented in your portfolio. Indices are unmanaged and an investor cannot invest directly in an index. All investments involve risk including loss of principal. Fixed income investments are subject to interest rate and credit risk. Foreign securities involve additional risks, including foreign currency changes, political risks, foreign taxes, and different methods of accounting and financial reporting. S&P 500: An index consisting of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry grouping, among other factors. The S&P 500 is designed to be a leading indicator of U.S. equities and is meant to reflect the risk/return characteristics of the large-cap universe. Companies included in the Index are selected by the S&P Index Committee, a team of analysts and economists at Standard & Poor’s. Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate: A market capitalization-weighted index, maintained by Bloomberg Barclays, and is often used to represent investment grade bonds being traded in United States.

Investment Insights Podcast: The rally in risk assets continues

Chris HartHart_Podcast_338x284, Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded April 28, 2017), Chris discusses what has been the driving force behind the rally in April.

 

Quick hits:

  • The rally in April, despite a brief pause to begin the month, has been driven by positive macroeconomic data, better S&P earnings, and the potential for corporate tax reform.
  • From an equity perspective, stocks have moved higher despite increasing geopolitical risk both domestically and abroad.
  • We remain constructive on risk assets given good enough underlying macroeconomic data but also take notice of rising geopolitical tensions and continued lofty valuations across the equity markets.
  • Looking abroad, developed markets and emerging markets equities have rebounded solidly and now lead the U.S. thus far in 2017.
  • Within fixed income, the aggregate bond index has surprisingly moved higher along with equity markets, while high yield continues to lead.
  • We are keeping a watchful eye on rising global geopolitical tensions, but also note good breadth in the domestic equity markets and stronger corporate earnings.

For the rest of Chris’s insight, click here to listen to the audio recording.

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The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.