4th Quarter 2019

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The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index posted a +9.1% gain in 4Q 2019.  That's nearly as much as the average return historically earned in a full one-year period! Stocks returned +1.7% in 3Q2019 after gaining +4.3% and +13.7% in the previous two quarters and losing 13.5% in 4Q2018.

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The S&P 500 gained +73.9%, more than double the return on European stocks, in the five years ended Dec. 31. 2019. The +14.8% average annual return on the S&P 500 was nearly 50% more than the 10% return averaged for 200 years, according to Prof. Jeremy's book, "Stocks for the Long Run."

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While your eye may be drawn to the 50.3% return on tech stocks, the bigger story for diversified investors was that the poorest return among the 10 S&P industry indexes in 2019 was the 11.8% on energy industry shares. All of the other industry sectors returned more than 20%!

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Notable in this bar chart of 2019 returns of a diverse group of 13 assets is that there was only one loser — agriculture commodities, which suffered a fractional loss of one-third of 1% for the year. The other 12 asset classes showed positive returns. Even asset classes not highly correlated with U.S. stocks gained strongly.

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The is what a roaring bull market looks like. In looking back 20 quarters, the superlative returns in the last four quarters stand out. While this indicates a reversion to the mean could be in the cards soon, the fundamentals of the economy remained strong as 2020 began.

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The 60 economists surveyed in early December by The Wall Street Journal expected growth to average +1.8% over the five quarters ahead, which is line with Bureau of Economic Analysis actual quarterly gross domestic product data shown in black. Barring a "black swan" event, the expansion was poised to continue in 2020

Past performance is never a guarantee of your future results. Indices and ETFs representing asset classes are unmanaged and not recommendations. Foreign investing involves currency and political risk and political instability. Bonds offer a fixed rate of return while stocks fluctuate. Investing in emerging markets involves greater risk than investing in more liquid markets with a longer history.



Market DataBank: 4Q 2020

1st Quarter 2020
3rd Quarter 2019

This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Blattel & Associates and is not intended as legal or investment advice.
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