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An Economy on the Mend

Looking at the Past Quarter

A great deal of market volatility was introduced during the fourth quarter of 2014. A drop in the S&P 500, which began on September 19th, continued a downward spiral that culminated with the average bottoming at 1862 on October 16th. At that point, the average was negative for the year. The S&P then proceeded to rise and fall in swings of 100 points or more until the end of the year. It is interesting to see how the index fell so sharply, then recovered and fell again. By the end of the year, with the average having moved from1972.3 on September 30th to 2058.9 on December 31st, there was a gain of 4.39% for the quarter and a gain of 9.87% for the year.



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.