Review and Outlook: Q2 2017

The second quarter of 2017 provided financial market investors with decent returns:

Major domestic stock indexes gained in the 1-3% range – led higher by healthcare stocks. Major international stock indexes achieved gains in the 6% range. 

Bond investors generally saw small gains in the 1% range for the major averages. Some of the specialized bond indexes – like TIPS – produced little gain, while bond investors still generally favored high-yield bonds in the low-interest rate environment. 

Commodities were much more of a struggle with energy, soft goods and many metals prices falling from a variety of supply/demand issues. The U.S. Dollar Index fell 4.8% amid concerns that the Trump Administration would not be able to forward its economic agenda this year. 

From an economic perspective, the reports regarding housing were generally strong in the quarter. Auto sales and general consumer spending saw weakness developing, which will be an area of focus in the third quarter. 

Perhaps the ‘newest news’ in the quarter was that the Fed got hawkish at its June 13/14 meeting. They exited that meeting with renewed resolve to raise short-term interest rates and begin to wind down their $4.5 trillion balance sheet at the same time later this year. That spooked markets and took much of the air out of investor returns for the balance of the month.

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