Market Comments: As of December 2014
With 2014 in the books, large cap domestic stocks were the place to be in the equity markets. The S&P 500, DJ Industrial Average and NASDAQ indices were up 13.69%, 10.04% and 14.75%, respectively. With the exception of energy, all sectors of the market experienced positive returns. Outside of the U.S., however, was another story. Foreign developed stocks lost 4.90% for the year and emerging markets were down 2.19%. Globally, the slide in oil prices continued though December, as benchmark Brent Crude Oil ended the year under $58 a barrel. Increased North American output, OPEC holding production steady and slowing growth in certain emerging markets and the Eurozone have all contributed to this decline. Many large developed nations, U.S., Japan, or any number of countries in Europe, are net importers of oil. Cheaper energy will act as a tailwind to their respective economies. In addition, lower oil prices are a global deflationary force, which could prompt further action from central banks already dealing with below target inflation.