by Clare Market Investments on Feb 2, 2023
Monthly Market Summary
The S&P 500 Index returned +6.3% in January, underperforming the Russell 2000 Index’s +9.8% return. 2022’s underperforming sectors were the top performers in January, while defensive sectors posted negative returns.
Corporate investment grade bonds generated a +5.2% total return, outperforming corporate high yield bonds’ +3.7% total return. The positive bond returns occurred as Treasury yields declined across most of the yield curve.
International stocks outperformed for a third consecutive month as the U.S. dollar weakened. The MSCI EAFE Index of developed market stocks returned +9.0%, in line with the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s +9.1% return.
Fourth Quarter GDP Growth Slows but Remains Positive
The U.S. economy grew at a +2.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from the third quarter’s +3.2% annual rate. The growth was largely driven by a resilient consumer, inventory restocking, and increased government spending, while businesses cut back their spending on equipment and the housing market remained weak. While GDP growth was positive for a second consecutive quarter, the pace of economic growth slowed as the year ended. The U.S. economy grew +1% year-over-year compared to the same quarter a year ago, a slowdown from the +5.7% year-over-year growth rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The slowdown signals a return to a more normal pace of growth after 2021’s strong growth. Looking ahead to 2023, the U.S. economy is forecasted to slow as the cumulative effect of higher interest rates takes hold. Economists are concerned the Federal Reserve's efforts to curb inflation could trigger further spending cutbacks and job losses and tip the U.S. into a recession.
Financial Conditions Loosen in Anticipation of 2023 Interest Rate Cuts
Financial conditions loosened in January. The catalyst was the market’s anticipation of possible interest rate cuts in late 2023 due to a slowdown in economic activity. Treasury yields declined, corporate bond spreads tightened, and mortgage rates declined another -0.40%. Lower stock and bond market volatility, added to the loosening of financial conditions.
The Federal Reserve has expressed concern about the potential for loose financial conditions to undercut its efforts to bring inflation down. When financial conditions are loose, people are more willing to take risks and borrow money, which can lead to higher spending and demand for goods and services. This increased demand could drive up prices, keeping inflation elevated and forcing the Federal Reserve to tighten further. Policymakers will keep a close eye on financial conditions as 2023 progresses.
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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 independently audited this information to validate accuracy. Further, the information maybe be at a point and 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. Please visit our website claremarket.com for additional information and disclosures. ©2023 Clare Market Investments, LLC
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