We are two months into 2018 and experiencing steady growth from the prior year. Let’s look at the economic factors that impacted yields and recap a successful 2017.
1. Three Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Rate Hikes
The Federal Funds target rate was raised three times (March, June, and December), starting the year at 0.50% to 0.75% and ending at 1.25% to 1.50%. The FOMC’s December dot plot indicated three potential rate hikes for 2018 based on the strength of the labor market and optimism that inflation will rise over the medium term.
2. Over Two Million Jobs Added in 2017
The unemployment rate dipped from 4.8% to 4.1% over the course of 2017. Non-farm payrolls added just over two million jobs in 2017, falling short of 2016’s growth but proving to be more than enough to put downward pressure on the unemployment rate and further tighten the labor market.
3. Stronger Economic Growth
The U.S. economy grew approximately 2.5% percent in 2017. Optimism regarding synchronized global growth and the impact of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act have the markets optimistic that the U.S. economy can continue to grow at a healthy pace in 2018.
4. Positive Consumer Sentiment
Strength in the housing market, a tightening labor market, and record high stock prices have lifted consumer sentiment. With roughly two-thirds of the GDP derived from consumer spending, a healthy consumer has led to a healthy economy.
5. Low Market Volatility
With the FOMC striving for maximum transparency, the stock and bond markets remained remarkably calm over the course of 2017. Stability in the financial markets have made the FOMC’s job a bit easier (for now).
All comments and discussion presented are purely based on opinion and assumptions, not fact. These assumptions may or may not be correct based on foreseen and unforeseen events. The information above is not a recommendation to buy, sell, implement, or change any securities or investment strategy, function, or process. Any financial and/or investment decision should be made only after considerable research, consideration, and involvement with an experienced professional engaged for the specific purpose. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Any financial and/or investment decision may incur losses. Performance comparisons will be affected by changes in interest rates. Investment returns fluctuate due to changes in market conditions.