We have said it many times this year, 2017 has been a very good year for investors. The year has had its drawbacks politically and socially, but most investors should be happy seeing their account statements through November. With the latest GDP data showing a growth rate of 3.3%1 and unemployment at full employment levels, it is not surprising that stocks have responded. For November, the S&P 500 was up another 3.1% while the NASDAQ was up 2.3%. With investors taking on more risk, the traditionally safer bonds were slightly down for the month. The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index is up a very unimpressive 3.23% so far in 2017.2
Although stocks are up across the board, there are stark differences in performance again between growth and value. This is the third such year in a row where growth and value have traded significant performance variations. Looking back over the past fifteen years, this kind of phenomenon happens more often than you might think. Even though 2010 through 2014 large cap growth and value tracked each other very closely, the chart below shows 2004 through 2009 had four years with variations of 10% or more. If your portfolio has an emphasis on value this year, your performance might be lagging behind a little. It isn’t necessarily anything to be concerned with and is par for the course with stock investing.
In regards to interest rates, we fully expect short term rates to rise when the FOMC meets in mid-December. This shouldn’t affect too much, but will help nudge CD rates up a little bit. The Fed has been pretty transparent about its intentions with rate changes and the market appreciates not having any surprises. Tax reform success or failure will be the main potential catalyst that could significantly impact the profits investors have garnered this year. We have two versions of tax reform developed and the market is expecting some morphed combination of the legislation to actually be signed by the President before year end.
There are two main goals of the tax changes: 1) Cut taxes for corporations to encourage companies to come back to the US and 2) Simplify the tax code. Although campaign promises might have implied this would be a tax cut for all mankind, it doesn’t appear to be the case. Tax reform is not the same as a tax cut, but hopefully we will see an end product that accomplishes the goals and helps put a little bit of extra money in our bank accounts when it’s all over.
In other news, we just held our client appreciation banquet and had our biggest event ever! We will have more on this in the newsletter. We are truly honored to work with all of our wonderful clients and value the trust you place with us. May we all have a very blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to come!
1Bureau of Economic Analysis
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