Job and Trade in Perspective

Increasing trade tensions weighed on markets during the first week of April, and a weak March jobs report added to concerns, but in this market a little perspective can go a long way. The S&P 500 Index fell on April 6, but the drop may have seemed worse for investors because January 2017 – January 2018 was one of the least volatile periods for the index in history. The S&P 500’s 2.2% drop ranked as the fifth largest single-day decline year to date. However, compared to 2017, which saw a maximum daily decline of 1.8% in May, and only experienced four days the entire year where stocks dropped more than 1.0%, the move seemed much larger. While a 2.0% or larger move in the S&P 500 may not be the new normal, we believe that we may continue to see increased volatility in 2018 as markets weigh policy decisions and economic data in the short run. However, when we take a step back from the day-today fluctuations of individual economic data points and markets, the economy remains on a positive footing. This solid underpinning, combined with continued potential for strong earnings growth (see our Weekly Market Commentary for a first quarter earnings preview), and the potential impact of fiscal stimulus, leads us to believe markets may have room to move higher in 2018.

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