Market Comments: As of December 2015
Stock December has typically been one of the best months for equity performance, yet major stock markets ended this year on a down note. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial, and NASDAQ stock indices fell 1.58 percent, 1.52 percent, and 1.91 percent, respectively. International markets fared no better, with the MSCI EAFE falling 1.35 percent. In the fixed income sector, high yield bonds continued to weaken, thanks primarily to persistently low oil and commodity prices. Investment grade securities eked out positive returns for the year, but low yields are a persistent headwind. As expected, the Federal Reserve decided to raise its key interest rate for the first time since the financial crisis. Foreign central banks through, including the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, are still in the midst of monetary easing programs.