December 2023

December 2023

by Clare Market Investments on Dec 1, 2023

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Monthly Market Summary

  • The S&P 500 Index gained +9.1% in November, slightly underperforming the Russell 2000 Index’s +9.2% return. Ten of the eleven S&P 500 sectors traded higher, with only Energy trading lower as the price of oil declined -6.2%. 
  • Corporate investment-grade bonds produced a +7.5% total return as yields declined, outperforming corporate high-yield bonds’ +4.9% total return. 
  • International stocks underperformed U.S. stocks for a second consecutive month. The MSCI EAFE Index of developed market stocks gained +8.2% and outperformed the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s +7.8% return.

Stocks Trade Higher as Treasury Yields Reverse Lower

The big story during November was the decline in Treasury yields. The bond market experienced large moves in interest rates, with the 10-year Treasury yield falling to 4.36% from over 5% in October. For context, the -0.54% decline in the 10-year yield ranks among the biggest 1-month drops since December 2008, when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by -0.75%. Falling Treasury yields provided relief to bonds, which have traded lower as the Federal Reserve hikes rates. The Bloomberg U.S. Bond Aggregate Index, which tracks a broad index of U.S. bonds, produced a +4.6% total return. It was the index’s first gain in seven months and its biggest gain since 1985.

The decline in yields helped the stock market rebound after trading lower for three consecutive months. The S&P 500 recorded its biggest monthly gain since July 2022 and currently trades less than 5% below its all-time closing high. The NASDAQ 100 Index gained +10.8% as mega-cap growth stocks such as Microsoft, Apple, and NVIDIA traded toward new all-time highs. Technology was the top-performing S&P 500 sector as the rally in growth stocks propelled the sector to a new all-time high. Real Estate followed close behind, as falling interest rates provided relief to property owners. Defensive sectors, including Consumer Staples, Utilities, and Health Care, lagged as the market traded higher.

Investors Encouraged by the Market’s Resilience to Higher Interest Rates

Investors are optimistic as the U.S. economy continues to exceed expectations. Third-quarter GDP growth was recently revised higher to 5.2%, the strongest since Q4 2021. While unemployment sits at a 21-month high of 3.9%, it remains low by historical standards. The pending home sales index recently fell to the lowest level since 2001, but the decline appears to be linked to limited supply rather than weak demand. The S&P 500’s earnings grew year-over-year during the third quarter, the first time since Q3 2022. Inflation pressures have eased significantly, and investors expect multiple interest rate cuts in 2024. There is a growing sense that the Federal Reserve has accomplished its mission of lowering inflation without tipping the economy into a recession. The market will be watching closely to see if the strength carries into 2024.

 

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS

 

 

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS

 

  IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES 

 

Clare Market Investments, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as and should not be used to provide investment advice and is not an offer to sell a security or a recommendation to buy a security. The information is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate as of the date of this report, but Clare Market has not audited this information to validate accuracy. Further, information may be at a point in time and subject to change. This summary is based exclusively on an analysis of general market conditions and does not speak to the suitability of any specific proposed securities transaction or investment strategy. Judgement or recommendations found in this report may differ materially from what may be presented in a long-term investment plan and are subject to change at any time. This report’s authors will not advise you as to any changes in figures or views found in this report. Investors should consult with their investment advisor to determine the appropriate investment strategy and investment vehicle. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s specific financial needs and objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Except for the historical information contained in this report, certain matters are forward-looking statements or projections that are dependent upon risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to such factors and considerations such as general market volatility, global economic risk, geopolitical risk, currency risk and other country-specific factors, fiscal and monetary policy, the level of interest rates, security-specific risks, and historical market segment or sector performance relationships as they relate to the business and economic cycle. See claremarket.com for additional information and disclosures. © 2023 Clare Market Investments, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean (merely average performance).”

 

- Charlie Munger