Markets were mixed this week as small cap stocks rose while large cap stocks declined. Oil prices continued to rise on the prospect of sanctions against Iran and reduced output from OPEC; Venezuela’s crude oil production, 800,000 barrels per day, is 65% below January 2016 levels. Brent crude, the international benchmark, briefly surpassed $80 per barrel for the first time since 2014. And, the PHLX Oil Service Sector Index rose 4.5% for the week to post a 24.5% gain since the end of March. Indeed, Energy has overtaken Technology as the leading sector in the S&P 500? Index year-to-date. Bond yields also rose due, in part, to expectations for increased inflation stemming from higher oil prices; the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury Note reached a high of 3.11%, its highest level since July 2011. The market’s relatively muted reaction suggests investors believe rising rates are not (yet) a serious threat to the economy.
Geopolitics, including the ongoing trade negotiations and developments related to North Korea, continued to dominate headlines. On Thursday, the U.S. and China began a second round of trade talks; officials on both sides indicated a challenging process as the U.S. seeks to reduce its annual trade deficit with China by $200 billion. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s unofficial deadline for a new NAFTA Agreement this week passed with major differences remaining; U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer commented that the three nations are “nowhere near close to a deal,” with major differences on issues related to intellectual property, agricultural access, labor and energy. No date has been set for the next round of talks. And, on Tuesday, North Korea cited South Korea’s military drills with the U.S. in cancelling high-level talks with South Korea and threatening to cancel the planned summit with the U.S. in June. The drama will likely play out over the next several weeks as behind-the-scenes negotiations continue. The uncertain trade and geopolitical outlook, along with the conclusion of earnings season, and its impressive performance results, may suppress the broader market’s near-term momentum. Corporate and economic fundamentals, though, support the continued outperformance of small cap stocks and the Energy sector.
*Source: Pacific Global Investment Management Company
Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.
Last Week's Headlines: 5/21/2018
1. Business activity grew strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the May 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index climbed four points to 20.1, indicating a faster pace of growth than in April.
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