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3rd Quarter Commentary: An Affair to Forget (October 5th, 2015)
In case you've missed the financial news over the
last three months, Q3 was a pretty ugly affair in world markets.
Almost every equity and commodity category - domestic and
international - started the quarter still in the black for 2015
but all of those categories ended the quarter solidly in the red
for 2015. Most of the losses can be pinned to two proximal
causes: growth worries out of China, which are really a proxy for
growth worries everywhere, and continuing uncertainty over a Fed
rate hike here in the U.S. (Will they or won't they?) These
concerns spilled over into all economies and markets, both
developed and emerging, and hit the commodities sector especially
hard. Oil prices fell 25% during the 3rd quarter, and the broad
Goldman Sachs Commodity Index fell 19%. Although those specific
areas/sectors were hit particularly hard - as was China, with a
29% drop in the Shanghai Composite Index, many broader equity
indices didn't fare quite so poorly: Large US and European
stocks were down between 6% and 9%, while the MSCI broad index of
Pacific stocks was down about 13%.
Despite the downbeat news in the markets, the US economy still
remains poised to grow 2.6% this year, which would be its best
year since 2006 as consumers continued to spend at a reasonably
strong clip, powered by two forces: a strong dollar, which has
increased purchasing power of imported products, and falling oil
prices (every cloud has a silver lining). Housing activity and
prices have continued to rise, with the S&P Case-Shiller home
price index posting a 4.7% year-over-year rise through July,
although the pace of new home sales slipped a bit in August.
Furthermore, household net worth is at an all-time high ($85.7
trillion), whether measured in nominal, real, or per capita
terms; household balance sheet leverage has fallen by more than
30% since the 2009 peak; and the economy has been growing and
jobs have been expanding for more than six years…and although
Friday's jobs report was a little disappointing, buried in
that same report was this encouraging fact: the U-6 unemployment
rate, which measures both unemployment and underemployment, dropped
0.3% to 10%.
Click here to continue reading...
For a comprehensive quarterly dataset on market performance
and valuations, here is JPMorgan's quarterly Littlebook -- 70-some
pages of market valuation and performance information that's
hard to beat, and which is made available to advisors for client