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How to Prepare for a Changing Bond Market

The words ‘bear market’ have been bandied about a lot lately. When you read or hear them, remember to respond the same way you would if you saw an actual bear in the woods – by staying calm and keeping your wits about you. A changing bond market environment creates challenges for investors and financial advisors, but it also creates opportunities.

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May Market Recap – May, Moderation & Manufacturing

Five months into the year, the U.S. economic outlook remains moderate. A Federal Reserve (Fed) survey showed a subtle uptick for the economy in April and May, based on “strong” gains in manufacturing and lower unemployment. While growth appears to have improved in recent months (following a weak showing from consumers in the first quarter), the labor market has grown tighter and could prevent growth from strengthening much in the second half of the year, explains Raymond James Chief Economist Scott Brown.

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Trade War on Hold – At Least for Now

Washington policy analyst Ed Mills discusses the latest trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. (May 21, 2018)

In summary: Negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials in Washington last week wrapped up with a commitment to “substantially reduce” the U.S. trade imbalance with China, specifically by boosting U.S. energy and agricultural exports with a focus on strengthened cooperation on intellectual property protections. The agreement calls for a delay in tariff implementation and could delay the release of the Treasury’s report on restriction on Chinese investments in certain industries and technology. This could be viewed as a double positive in the near term.

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Despite Solid Earnings, Poor Reactions Prevalent

Mike Gibbs, Managing Director of Equity Portfolio & Technical Strategy, notes the market’s lackluster response to a so-far very strong first quarter. (April 26, 2018)

After improving from its early-April lows on dampened U.S.-China trade tensions, the S&P 500 has pulled back to its 200-day moving average. We continue to believe that the S&P 500 is likely range-bound (levels near 2600-2800) for the short term as headwinds from trade negotiations and interest rates play out, while tailwinds from solid earnings and economic growth provide support on the downside.

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Loud Noises and the Return of Volatility

Nicholas Lacy, CFA, Chief Portfolio Strategist, reflects on how markets adjusted to increased uncertainty in the first quarter.

March 29, 2018

U.S. equity markets soared to record highs at the end of January only to reverse course into a freefall over the next several days. The remainder of the first quarter was choppy as investors grappled with increased uncertainty following an extended period of steady gains against a quiet market backdrop.

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