The year began on a note much like it ended in December, with encouraging economic data and the financial markets optimistic over the prospects for a more pro-business environment in Washington. Commodity markets seem to be enjoying some support and the global economy also appears to be on the mend; a much more encouraging backdrop than was in place a year ago.
The Canadian bond market experienced a seesaw month as investors tried to discern the impact of the change in the United States’ government. After a weak finish to 2016, with lower bond prices and higher yields, it appeared that in January the market was catching its breath and evaluating whether it had discounted too much following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. Slightly higher yields for long-term bonds resulted in lower prices that caused the value of the overall index to decline marginally. The FTSE TMX Canada Universe Bond index returned -0.12% in January.
Immediately following the presidential election, U.S. index futures plunged and at one point, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 900 points*. Surprisingly, as investors absorbed the implications of this political sea change, key indexes rebounded and ended higher on November 9. The Dow went on to close at a record high level on November 10 and finished up for the quarter. Financials led the advance, first benefiting from investors’ hopes that the new Republican administration would roll back industry regulations and second, from the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) decision to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in 2016. Citing signs that the economy has improved, the Fed also stated it intends to raise rates three times in 2017. Similarly, optimism that policy makers will carry through on promises of considerable infrastructure spending helped share prices in the industrials and materials sectors and the pledge to expand domestic oil and gas production boosted energy companies’ shares.
Major global market movements in Q4 were largely influenced by the results of the U.S. presidential election in November. Although futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 900 points* in the immediate aftermath of the election, investors surprisingly absorbed the implications of this political sea change. Subsequently, key indexes rebounded and the Dow went on to close at a record high level on November 10 and finish up for the quarter. Financials led the advance, first benefiting from investors’ hopes that the new Republican administration would roll back industry regulations and second from the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) decision to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in 2016. Citing signs that the economy has improved, the Fed also stated it intends to raise rates three times in 2017.
The S&P 500® Index gained 3.82%* for the fourth quarter (in Canadian dollar terms, the return for the quarter was 6.28%), resulting in a total return of 11.96%* for the year. The quarter began with a 1.82%* loss for the month of October, followed by returns of 3.70%* and 1.98%* for November and December, respectively.
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