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HERE ARE the latest numbers from the world of investing:

  • The S&P 500 soared 17.4% in 2019’s first half, after sliding 6.2% in 2018. These figures don’t include dividends. Since the market bottomed on March 9, 2009, the shares in the S&P 500 have climbed 335%, though they remain just 93% above their March 24, 2000, peak.
  • U.S. growth stocks outpaced value shares in the first half, continuing their recent dominance. Meanwhile, developed foreign markets and emerging markets bounced back after 2018’s drubbing, though they lagged behind U.S. stocks.
  • Bond prices rose and yields fell in 2019’s first six months, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yielding 2.01% at the end of June, down from 2.68% at year-end 2018. In early July 2016, the 10-year yield hit a record low of 1.37%.
  • Short-term interest rates climbed in 2018, pushing up yields on cash investments like savings accounts, money market funds and short-term certificates of deposit. Matters may not improve in 2019: The Federal Reserve has indicated we could see a cut in short-term interest rates.
  • Real assets had a good first half. Oil rose to $58, up $12 from six months earlier. Real estate investment trusts posted healthy gains. Gold, which ended 2018 at $1,285, was at $1,413 six months later.
  • In June, the Federal Reserve projected that the U.S. economy will expand 2.1% in 2019, with unemployment dipping to 3.6% and core inflation running at 1.8%.
  • As of 2016, 51.9% of U.S. families were invested in the stock market, up from 48.8% three years earlier, but below the 53.2% peak recorded in 2007, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. The survey is conducted every three years.
  • There’s been much handwringing over whether index funds are coming to dominate the U.S. stock market. But according to the Investment Company Institute, index mutual funds and exchange-traded index funds hold just 13% of U.S. stocks, versus 15% for actively managed funds and 71% for others, including individuals, hedge funds, pension funds and insurers.

Want to get a handle on stock and bond market valuations? Check out the chapter on financial markets.

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