Financial Markets Hope to Maintain Status Quo

Posted on January 13th, 2020


Stocks Remain on Positive Trajectory

In sharp contrast to 2018, equity markets advanced in 2019 with gains not seen since 2013. Technology, financials, and communications were the leading S&P 500 sectors in 2019. Total stock market value increased $7.5 trillion for the year.

The equity market rebound from its topple in December 2018 was unexpected by many analysts, as 2019 began with expectations of a recession and further market downturn. International markets also advanced broadly in 2019, with gains in the developed and emerging markets.

Global bond markets have been favorable for stocks as historically low rates during the past decade incentivized governments and companies worldwide to borrow, boosting growth in expansion and capital investments globally.

The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 Index ended 2019 at 18.3, up from 15.6 at the end of 2018. Analysts view this ratio as an indicator as to how fairly valued the equity market is.

Fed Seeks to Keep Bond Markets Stable

Fixed income markets are expecting that the Federal Reserve will maintain interest rates steady through 2020, with no anticipated increases or decreases. Performance was positive across all bond sectors in 2019, with yields stabilizing towards the end of the year.

Ending the year at 1.92%, the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond is still the highest yield available among the developed government bond market. Government bond yields in developed economies such as Germany and Japan were still negative at the end of the year.

To shore up liquidity at the end of 2019 to avert a market disruption, as occurred in December 2018, the Fed injected billions of dollars into the repurchase-agreement market, also known as the repo market, and also bought roughly $400 billion of bonds since October 2019. The strategy has been very similar to the Fed’s quantitative easing program enacted during the financial crisis, also known as Q.E.

Sources: Bloomberg, S&P, Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury

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