2017 Charts of the Week

Top Ten Countries in the MSCI EAFE Index (as of 3/31/17)

Posted April 21, 2017

The Morgan Stanley Capital International ("MSCI") Europe, Australasia, and Far East Index ("EAFE") is a benchmark commonly used to measure non-U.S. developed country stock market performance and the MSCI Emerging Markets ("EM") Index is a benchmark commonly used to measure non-U.S. emerging country stock market performance. Each index consists of about twenty countries and a country cannot be a member of both benchmarks. The bar chart above shows the net performance in U.S. dollars for the one-year periods ended March 31, 2017 ("current" period) and March 31, 2016 ("prior" period) for the MSCI EM Index, the MSCI EAFE Index, and the top 10 non-U.S. developed countries. The top 10 countries were determined by their market capitalization in the MSCI EAFE Index as of March 31, 2017. The country with the largest market capitalization (Japan) is listed first, and the country with the smallest market capitalization of the ten countries reported (Sweden) is listed last.

S&P 500 Index Sector Performance (As of 3/31/2017)

Posted April 13, 2017

Similar to the stock market as a whole, returns for individual sectors of the stock market experience fluctuations. For example, a sector may outperform other sectors for a period of time and then underperform in subsequent periods. The chart above compares the performance of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (“S&P 500”), including dividends, to its 11 underlying sectors for the twelve-month periods ended March 31, 2017 ("current" period) and March 31, 2016 ("prior" period). The S&P 500 is an index consisting of 500 companies representing larger-capitalization stocks traded in the U.S. and is a benchmark commonly used to measure the performance of the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 gained 17.17% in the current period with all 11 sectors posting positive returns. For the prior period, seven of the 11 sectors posted positive returns with the S&P 500 gaining 1.78%.

Capital Markets Review (as of 3/31/2017)

Posted April 7, 2017

Capital market returns in U.S. dollars were positive in the first quarter of 2017. U.S. Bonds, U.S. High Yield Bonds, U.S. Large-Cap Stocks, Emerging Market Stocks, U.S. Small-Cap Stocks and International Developed Market Stocks also had positive returns over the trailing 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods as shown in the chart above.

Amount Needed to Retire Comfortably

Posted March 31, 2017

On an annual basis, the Employee Benefit Research Institute ("EBRI") conducts a survey that gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement and related issues. The results of the survey are published in the Retirement Confidence Survey ("RCS"). The 2017 results of the amount of money necessary for a worker (and spouse) to retire comfortably is noted in the chart above.

U.S. Retirement Confidence Survey

Posted March 24, 2017

On an annual basis, the Employee Benefit Research Institute ("EBRI") conducts a survey that gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding their confidence with regard to various aspects of retirement and related issues. The results of the survey are published in the Retirement Confidence Survey ("RCS"), and comparisons of the RCS results for 2016 and 2017 are noted in the chart above.

U.S. Household Wealth

Posted March 17, 2017

On a quarterly basis, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board releases a report known as the Financial Accounts of the United States. One subset of that report is a measure of U.S. household wealth, which measures the flow of funds and levels of financial assets and liabilities for U.S. households. The chart above shows the quarterly dollar value of U.S. household wealth for the past two years.

U.S. High Yield Bond Spread

Posted March 10, 2017

One risk measure that investors monitor is the relationship of the yield of a particular class of securities to a particular Treasury security, also know as the "spread." Larger spreads may indicate a risk-off or risk-averse market. Smaller spreads may indicate a risk-on or risk-seeking market. The chart above shows the spread between the Barclays Capital High Yield Index and a generic index of U.S. Government 10-year securities for the past 12 months.

U.S. Pending Home Sales

Posted March 3, 2017

The National Association of Realtors ("NAR") publishes a monthly index regarding pending home sales based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Economists consider it be a leading indicator of housing activity. The chart above shows the changes in the seasonally adjusted index for January 2017 on both a 1-month basis and a year-over-year basis for the U.S. as well as the geographic regions of the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

U.S. Equity Performance Since the Election

Posted February 24, 2017

The chart above shows the return for three U.S Equity Indexes since the 2016 election (November 8, 2016 close through February 17, 2017 close) on a price return basis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ("Dow") is a price-weighted index of 30 large-cap equities, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ("S&P 500") is a market cap-weighted index of 500 large-cap equities, and the NASDAQ Composite Index ("NASDAQ") is a market cap-weighted index of about 3,000 multi-cap equities. These three indexes are often cited in the media when discussing U.S. equity market performance.

NFIB Small Business Survey

Posted February 17, 2017

NFIB publishes a monthly seasonally adjusted index (NFIB Small Business Survey) that is derived from a large sample of its small business members. Among the 10 topics included in the survey are: plans to increase employment, plans to make capital expenditures, expect economy to improve, current job openings, and is now a good time to expand. Economists see the survey as a good representation of the health of small businesses, which represent about 50 percent of the nation's workforce.

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