Seven aspects of your financial life to review as the year draws to a close.
Just two U.S. equity indices had a positive January. The Dow Jones Utility Average rose an impressive 5.80%, and the PHLX Gold/Silver index advanced 1.47%. A different kind of benchmark did much better than that: the CBOE VIX. The “fear index” gained 10.93% in January to end the month at 20.20. Paralleling the Dow’s five-and-a-half percent fall, the two other major U.S. stock indices posted big monthly retreats, as evidenced by the Y-T-D column below. The Russell 2000 lost 8.85% in January, falling to a settlement of 1,035.38 as trading ended for the month on January 29. The Dow closed at 16,466.30 that day, the S&P at 1,940.24, and the Nasdaq at 4,613.95.
While the Russell 2000 and Nasdaq Composite advanced significantly in November, the S&P 500 did not – the broad U.S. benchmark rose a mere 0.05%. Terrorists took hundreds of lives in France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali and Tunisia during the month, and the fear in the wake of those attacks was felt in the investment markets. Federal Reserve policy minutes contained strong hints that the central bank could raise interest rates in December, a signal investors accepted without disillusionment. Oil, gold and many other major commodities retreated. Key consumer confidence, consumer spending and manufacturing indicators disappointed, but reports on the job market and real estate market offered better news.
Markets weigh Janet Yellen’s comments & the new policy statement.