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Volatility is Back

Ups and Downs

The third quarter of 2014 was nothing like the second quarter. The second quarter saw increases in just about every investment category that we use. This past quarter was one of new volatility in the markets. Bonds and stocks both spent the period going from highs to lows, then reversing course and reversing course again.



It’s All Good for the Quarter!

Remarkable

The only way to see this past quarter is as remarkable. Everything appeared to be up. Intermediate term bonds: up. Short term bonds: up. International bonds: up. U.S. equities: up. International equities: up. Real estate investment trusts: up. Natural gas prices: up. Natural gas pipelines: up. I may have missed a category or two, but the likelihood is that they, too, were up. The point is we have been in an unusual phase since the beginning of this year. The tide seems to have come in and floated all the boats.



Weather Dominated 1st Quarter 2014

Construction Impeded
This past quarter saw severe weather in most parts of the United States. The weather had an impact on many sectors. One of the effected sectors was home construction. New home construction took a dive. In addition, construction of new malls and shopping centers was negligible.  This was not good for the overall economy, but it did have a positive impact on real estate investment trust earnings and growth. Due to the lack of construction, the value of existing commercial properties in some areas rose, with demand exceeding supply. This also created an opportunity to continue to raise rents. The result of the combination of rising value and rising income gave this sector of the market a remarkable gain for the quarter.



A Paradigm Shift in Energy!

Six or seven years ago, the U.S. was very concerned that the balance of payments was showing large deficits year after year. Much was attributed to importing oil from overseas.  Oil production in the U.S. was in decline and the large reserves found in Alaska were beginning to dwindle.  The picture was not good. A byproduct of this was that energy costs in the U.S. were going up, reducing the capital spending of corporations and consumers as they spent more on energy.