In this month’s Investment Perspectives, the Investment Strategy Group discusses how the pursuit of a soft landing continues in the new year and anticipates volatile but trending bond markets. Plus, strong market performance in December points to potential positive results for 2024.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Mark Luschini, Chief Investment Strategist

Around the middle of last year, the consensus outlook for the economy shifted to discount the odds of a recession, and now many believe that a soft landing is the most likely outcome. This view was reinforced following the Federal Reserve’s (the Fed) December policy meeting as the Summary of Economic Projections that accompanied the announcement of no new rate hike showed committee members have penciled in three cuts in 2024 amidst expectations of falling inflation and still positive economic growth.

It is worth asking, however, whether, in pursuit of a soft landing, could the Fed make a policy mistake by easing off its monetary restraint too soon? To be sure, everyone would opt for a soft economic landing if it could be guaranteed. But lacking that assurance one should consider the consequences if the effort fails and inflation stays high or even reaccelerates.

Year in Review

Guy LeBas, Chief Fixed Income Strategist

Once again, we are continuing our tradition in the fixed-income markets to take the first Investment Perspectives of the new year to reflect on major market themes from the prior year. The level of interest rates continues to be a significant driver of valuations across not just bond, but also stock and commodities markets—one need not look further than the nearest financial television program to figure out that much. Although this connection seems natural, the reality is that the impact of the level of interest rates on other financial markets varies considerably, and usually in proportion to the volatility of interest rates. As noted in Janney ISG’s Outlook 2024, we anticipate volatile but trending bond markets in the new year, an extension of 2023’s experience.

The primary market trend in 2023 was four distinct trading regimes, which felt almost seasonal. In winter, focus on further Fed rate hikes had yields rising rapidly. In spring, the regional banking crisis had yields falling for safety reasons. In late summer, U.S. Treasury supply pushed yields to their highest levels in more than a decade. And in late fall, those concerns faded abruptly. The net result was that interest rates ended the year violently unchanged. 10-year Treasuries ended at 3.88% after starting the year at 3.87%, marking the smallest change in interest rates in any year in contemporary history. Shorter-term interest rates actually fell, with two-year Treasuries ending at 4.25% after starting the year at 4.43%, the smallest change in short rates since 2016.

Hoping for an Encore

Gregory M. Drahuschak, Market Strategist

The stock market ended 2023 with a stunning two-month flourish that sent the S&P 500 to 3.26 points shy of its all-time intraday high and 15.32 points away from the closing high. The index posted its fourth-best November and the 15th-best December results since 1950. The S&P 500 gained more than 16% from the October low to set multiple 52-week highs.

 

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The information herein is for informative purposes only and in no event should be construed as a representation by us or as an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. The factual information given herein is taken from sources that we believe to be reliable, but is not guaranteed by us as to accuracy or completeness. Charts and graphs are provided for illustrative purposes. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.

 

The concepts illustrated here have legal, accounting, and tax implications. Neither Janney Montgomery Scott LLC nor its Financial Advisors give tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with the appropriate professional for advice concerning your particular circumstances. Past performance is not an indication or guarantee of future results. There are no guarantees that any investment or investment strategy will meet its objectives or that an investment can avoid losses. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Exposure to an asset class represented by an index is available through investable instruments based on that index. A client’s investment results are reduced by advisory fees and transaction costs and other expenses.

 

Employees of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC or its affiliates may, at times, release written or oral commentary, technical analysis or trading strategies that differ from the opinions expressed within. From time to time, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC and/or one or more of its employees may have a position in the securities discussed herein.

About the authors

Mark Luschini

Chief Investment Strategist, President and Chief Investment Officer, Janney Capital Management

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Guy LeBas

Director, Custom Fixed Income Solutions

Read more from Guy LeBas

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