Today’s Markets

HERE ARE the latest numbers from the world of investing:

  • The S&P 500 soared 18.7% in 2019’s first nine months, 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 340%, though they remain just 95% above their March 24, 2000, peak.
  • U.S. growth stocks have outpaced value shares in 2019, continuing their recent dominance. Value, however, had a strong September, raising hopes that their comeback may be at hand.
  • Developed foreign markets and emerging markets have bounced back after 2018’s drubbing, though they’ve again lagged behind U.S. stocks in 2019.
  • Bond prices rose and yields fell in 2019’s first nine months, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note yielding 1.67% at the end of September, 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 likely won’t improve in 2019, with the Federal Reserve now back to cutting short-term interest rates.
  • Real assets have had a good 2019. At the end of September, oil was at $54 a barrel, up $8 from nine months earlier. Real estate investment trusts have posted healthy gains. Gold, which ended 2018 at $1,285 an ounce, stood at $1,479 nine months later.
  • In September, the Federal Reserve projected that the U.S. economy will expand 2.2% in 2019, with unemployment at 3.7% and core inflation running at 1.8%. For 2020, it’s forecasting 2% growth, 3.7% unemployment and 1.9% for core inflation.
  • 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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