- About Us
- How We Invest
- Investment Strategies
- Individual Investors
- Institutional Investors
- Pacific Advisors Funds
Ed Apple: Markets continue to set new highs; what makes them so strong?
Charles: The main reason the markets continue to advance is the absence of a major destabilizing event. In each of the past five years, something has disrupted the markets: the Brexit vote in 2016; the Greek bailout negotiations in 2015; the Russia-Ukraine conflict and oil market selloff in 2014. Back in 2013, it was the surge in Treasury yields as the Federal Reserve announced a slowdown in its bond purchase program (the so-called “Taper Tantrum”); and, in 2012, it was the European debt crises and “fiscal cliff” showdown over expiring tax cuts and budget cutbacks. This year, no major event has hindered stocks from moving higher.
The bull market continued to climb on the strength of improving U.S. and global economies. Companies across many sectors cited improving business conditions in support of their willingness to invest in product and geographical expansions, acquisitions and other growth initiatives. The market leadership continued to focus on the Technology sector which contributed almost 40% of the S&P 500® Index’s 9.34% return through June 30th; Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon.com, and Johnson & Johnson led the way with performance ranging from 17% to 31% during the quarter. Investors continued to be attracted to these companies, despite their lofty valuations, as geopolitical uncertainties cast a shadow over the anticipated growth opportunities elsewhere. A look at the other market sectors reveals more modest contributions: Industrials contributed (9.7%); Financials (11.0%) while Energy (-10.6%) lagged during the first six months.
Investor sentiment soared in the fourth quarter with the unexpected results of the U.S. elections. Markets had not only assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the next President of the U.S. but that she might also deliver a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. In hindsight, Donald Trump’s election and Republican control of the Congress turned out to be the U.S. version of Brexit when voters chose a different course of action from polling projections. After the initial shock subsided, the markets reacted favorably with a strong showing in November that carried the markets through the end of the year.