Market Comments: As of January 2015
Much like 2014, U.S. stocks started the year off in negative territory. The S&P 500 lost 3% in January, with only the utilities and healthcare sectors posting positive returns. Bond interest rates declined significantly due to decreasing inflation expectations, GDP growth slowing from its previous 5% annual rate, and uncertainty surrounding various political and economic events in Europe. The benchmark 10-year treasury yield ended the month at 1.68%. International and emerging-market equities registered modest gains, with the MSCI EAFE and MSCI Emerging Markets up 0.49% and 0.60%, respectively. European markets responded favorably to the European Central Bank’s announcement of its own bond buying program, which is set to begin in March. Also, investor reaction to the outcome of key elections in Greece was rather benign, despite heightened anxiety leading up to the event.