Investment Insights Podcast: March 2018 market and economic outlook

Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded March 9, 2018), Leigh provides a brief review of February markets.

 

Quick hits:

  • Market volatility came roaring back in February with the VIX index surging to levels last seen in 2015 and washing out signs of complacency that were present earlier in the year.
  • The S&P 500 Index finished the month down -3.7% and is up 1.8% year to date.
  • Developed international equities underperformed domestic equities for the month.
  • Within fixed income all sectors posted negative returns.
  • Overall, we continue to remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full March Market and Economic Outlook.

market outlook (2)

 

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.

 

Vlog – Trade wars are bad for business; Fortunately, we aren’t in one, yet

Brinker Capital’s Global Investment Strategist, Tim Holland, provides perspective on the Trump Administration’s tariff announcement.

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.

Vlog – Market volatility: It’s back! Why? And what comes next?

Brinker Capital’s Global Investment Strategist, Tim Holland, provides perspective around recent market volatility, what triggered it and what impact it’s having on our thinking and portfolio positioning.

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.

February 2018 market and economic outlook

Lowman_FLeigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

Despite the pick-up in volatility at the end of January, risk assets continued their upward ascent throughout the month. Expectations surrounding the implementation of the newly passed tax reform bill and the weakening US dollar served as positive catalysts for the month. Macroeconomic data was mixed; fourth quarter real GDP growth came in slightly below expectations but manufacturing activity accelerated and the US jobs report was positive. Although we have seen initial signs of rising inflation, levels remain subdued as low unemployment has yet to translate into meaningful wage growth. We expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to remain on track with interest rate normalization and the positive, albeit choppy, market momentum we have seen to date indicates that markets can likely withstand an additional Fed rate hike in March.

The S&P 500 Index was up 5.7% for the month with cyclicals outperforming defensive sectors. Consumer discretionary (+9.3%) led while tax cuts and a solid job market served as positive catalysts. Information technology (+7.6%) and financials (+6.5%) also posted strong returns for the month. Utilities (-3.1%) and REITs (-2.0%) were down as traditional bond proxy sectors experienced headwinds amidst rising interest rates. Growth outperformed value and large-cap outperformed both mid-cap and small-cap equities.

Developed international equities (+5.0%) performed in line with domestic equities. Fundamentals within the Eurozone continued to improve and sentiment is high. The focus remains on European Central Bank policy and how the reduction of its quantitative easing purchases will impact markets. Emerging markets were up 8.3%. A weaker dollar and stronger demand for commodities served as tailwinds for both emerging Asia and Latin America regions.

Feb. 2018 Market Outlook

The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Index was down -1.2% for the month. Interest rates surged with 10-year Treasury yields increasing 31 basis points, ending the month at 2.7%. Tightening monetary policy and improving US growth expectations will likely continue to put upward pressure on the long end of the yield curve. High yield was the only sector to post positive returns in January, as credit spreads continued to grind tighter. Like taxable bonds, municipals were negative for the month.

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 this cycle has been longer in duration compared to history, the recovery we have experienced has been muted, supported by the extended recovery period. While our macro outlook is biased in favor of the positives, the risks must not be ignored.

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

  • Pro-growth policies of the Administration: The Trump administration has delivered a new tax plan and a more benign regulatory environment. We could see additional government spending on infrastructure in 2018.
  • Synchronized global economic growth: Growth in the US has started to accelerate, and growth in both developed international and emerging economies has meaningfully improved. The tax cuts could also help to boost GDP growth in 2018.
  • Improvement in earnings growth: Corporate earnings growth has improved globally and corporate tax reform should further benefit US-based companies.
  • Elevated business sentiment: Measures like CEO Confidence and NFIB Small Business Optimism are at elevated levels. This typically leads to additional project spending and hiring, which should boost growth. The corporate tax cut should also benefit business confidence and lead to increased capital spending.

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

  • Fed tightening: The Fed will continue to tighten monetary policy, with at least three interest rate hikes priced in for 2018. We may see tightening from other global central banks as well.
  • Higher inflation: Current levels of inflation are muted but inflation expectations have ticked higher and the reflationary policies of the Administration could further boost levels. Should inflation move higher, the Fed may shift to a more aggressive tightening stance.
  • Geopolitical risks: Geopolitical risks including trade policies and global challenges could cause short-term market volatility.

Despite the volatility experienced over the last week, the technical backdrop of the market remains favorable, credit conditions are supportive, and global economic growth is accelerating. So far President Trump’s policies are being seen as pro-growth, and business and consumer confidence are elevated. The onset of new policies under the Trump administration and actions of central banks may lead to higher volatility, 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.

Brinker Capital Barometer (as of 1/5/18)

Brinker_Barometer_1-5-18

 

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 US 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 US 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: A review of 2017 markets

Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded January 5, 2018), Leigh provides a quick review of the markets over the past year.

 

Quick hits:

  • 2017 was quite the year. After a prolonged period of sluggish economic growth, 2017 was marked by synchronized global expansion across all major economies.
  • The S&P 500 Index finished the year up 21.8%.
  • Developed international equities underperformed domestic equities for the fourth quarter but led for the year.
  • Treasuries and government bonds were flat for the quarter as rising 10-year Treasury yields and an additional 25bps Fed rate hike created headwinds for the sectors.
  • We remain positive on risk assets over the intermediate-term.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full January Market and Economic Outlook.

 

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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 review of November markets

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Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded December 8, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of October markets.

 

Quick hits:

  • After a short pause in the beginning of the month, it was more of the same for equity markets as the investment themes that have been apparent for most of the year were again evident throughout November.
  • The S&P 500 Index was up 3.1% in November.
  • Developed international equities were up 1.1%, underperforming domestic equities for the second month in a row.
  • Emerging markets were up 0.2% for November.
  • Fixed income was down in November with most sectors posting negative returns.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full October Market and Economic Outlook.

 

market outlook

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 review of October markets

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Leigh Lowman, CFA, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded November 10, 2017), Leigh provides a quick review of October markets.

 

Quick hits:

  • Many of the global growth themes that were evident in the third quarter carried into the start of the fourth quarter.
  • Macroeconomic data remained positive and earnings announcements generally came in above analyst forecasts.
  • Our base case remains that the positive market momentum we have seen year-to-date will likely continue through year-end.
  • However, we are aware that with equity markets at record highs and volatility at record lows, this may indicate investor sentiment is reaching excessive levels.

Listen_Icon  Listen to the audio recording.

Read_Icon  Read the full October Market and Economic Outlook.

 

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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: Are you familiar with the expression, “Don’t fight the tape?”

Chris HartHart_Podcast_338x284Senior Vice President

On this week’s podcast (recorded November 3, 2017), Chris highlights some of the more interesting facts that he has come across in recent days from various sources that support the notion of “don’t fight the tape.”.

 

Quick hits:

  • With October complete, the S&P 500 is up more than 15% for the year.  According to our research partners at Strategas, this has only happened 17 times since 1950, and usually indicates continued market strength through the end of the year.
  • A seasonally strong fourth quarter looks even more attractive and helps further confirm our constructive outlook for risk assets for the remainder of 2017.
  • Our partners at Evercore ISI point out that with more than 50% of S&P companies reporting, results have been above analyst expectations.
  • What’s more interesting is that the earnings beats have been skewed more positive than normal.
  • Our outlook remains constructive supported by strong economic data.

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.

Investment Insights Podcast: Markets only go up until they don’t

Goins_Podcast
Andrew Goins
, Investment Manager

On this week’s podcast (recorded October 20, 2017), Andrew revisits Black Monday, the largest single day market decline in history. He provides commentary on the measures taken after the crash and where the market currently stands today.

Quick hits:Last week, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Black Monday, when on October 19th, 1987 the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 22.6%.

  • As we look to today, with only one negative quarter for the S&P 500 in the last 4 and a half years, it’s easy to forget that circuit breakers exist and that markets can correct and even crash.
  • The Dow Jones closed above 23,000 for the first time last Wednesday and ended the week even higher.

For Andrew’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.

No apologies needed – The Diversification Apology Index

Rosenberger 150 x 150Andrew Rosenberger, CFA, Senior Investment Manager

Being truly diversified means always having to apologize for something.  Diversification, like investing in general, is oftentimes easier said than done.  We can theorize about 30 year time horizons; but emotions, herd mentality, individual circumstances, and a largely unpredictable future make practice far more difficult than theory.  For example, prior to the Financial Crisis when international stocks were ripping higher, investors questioned why more of their equity exposure wasn’t allocated toward international and emerging market stocks.  Last year, clients questioned why any of their equity exposure was allocated toward international companies.  As diversified asset allocators, we are constantly facing something in our portfolios which is lagging the broader markets.

With that said, 2017 certainly “feels” like it is shaping up to be a good year for diversified investors.  Most asset classes are up on the year with select ones, like international equities, handily outperforming the S&P 500.  But why does this year “feel” different than those in the past?  To answer that, let me introduce the “Diversification Apology Index.”

Diversification Apology Index 2

Source: Brinker Capital, FactSet, Lipper: 1/1/05 to 8/31/17

To explain further, let me first mention that not everything is performing well this year.  Commodities are slightly negative year-to-date, while REITs cling to only fractionally positive returns.  Yet, when you look at most investors’ portfolios, commodities and REITs make up only a minor portion of their overall asset allocation.  International equities, on the other hand, tend to represent a much larger investable universe and thus tend to make up a more significant portion of a diversified asset allocation.  To demonstrate this idea, we complied all U.S. open-end mutual funds and grouped them into broad asset classes based on their Lipper classifications.  With the entire mutual fund universe in hand, we then asset weighted each fund according to its corresponding asset class.  In short, we created a proxy for the ‘market portfolio.’  While we don’t believe this represents the average investors’ asset allocation per-se, it does give us some indication on relative positioning.  For example, we can see that the assets under management (AUM) for the international and global equity mutual funds is nearly twice as large as that of commodities, natural resources and MLPs.  Similarly, REITs make up only 3 percent of the total mutual fund AUM.  Although investors will differ based on their risk tolerance, objectives, biases, and investment philosophy, the aggregate mutual fund AUM provides some insight as to where the investors tend to allocate their investable capital.

US Mutual Fund Universe by Asset Class 2

Source: Brinker Capital, FactSet, Lipper: as of 6/30/17

With an idea relative asset class weightings, we can then compare recent performance of each of these asset classes to how a very traditional 60 percent S&P 500, 40 percent Barclays Aggregate portfolio would perform.  When asset classes with relatively small weights underperform, investors tend not to take all that much notice.  Hence, there is little to ‘apologize’ for.  However, when more meaningfully weighted asset classes underperform, the results stand out like a sore thumb.

Therein lies the basic methodology for the “Diversification Apology Index”.  After staying in an elevated range since 2011, we now see the benefits of diversification more similar to that of before the Financial Crisis.  Although we shouldn’t interpret this gauge as having any predictive power, it does bring hope that conversations with investors will be more focused on goals and how to meet objectives rather than why one may not be keeping up with the S&P 500.  Ultimately though, we should take comfort in knowing that it’s a good thing when select asset classes underperform, as it means that we are truly benefiting from a diversified portfolio.

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