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Markets Endure Another Choppy Week

Market Data as of Week Ending: 10/08/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks experienced another choppy week, with the S&P 500 rebounding from a sharp decline on Monday to post a gain for the week. Debt ceiling concerns weighed on investors before being alleviated late in the week after the Senate reached a temporary agreement. Large cap stocks outperformed both their smaller peers while value stocks outperformed their growth counterparts by a wide margin for a second straight week. The energy sector led with a strong gain as crude oil prices reached a seven-year high due to OPEC+ agreeing to keep production at its current level. The real estate and health care sectors lagged with modest losses. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia underperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks outperformed both.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields reached their highest levels in more than three months with the 10-year ending the week at 1.61%. Long and intermediate government and corporate bonds struggled as the rise in yields put pressure on longer duration bonds. High yield bonds were weaker as growth and inflation concerns weighed on risk assets. Investment grade and high yield corporate bond yields increased, ending the week with yields above 2.2% and 4.7%, respectively.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week delivered mostly mixed results. U.S. factory orders rose 1.2% in August, surpassing expectations. The service side of the U.S. economy grew slightly faster in September as the ISM services index increased to 61.9%. U.S. jobs growth slowed for the second month in a row and fell short of expectations, adding just 194,000 jobs in September. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, a new pandemic low, as more people drop out of the labor force. Natural gas prices surged to record levels in Europe amid global fuel shortages, threatening to increase costs significantly for households. The spike in energy prices have caused many to be concerned over more persistent inflationary pressures.

 

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U.S. Stocks Pull Back on Inflation and Interest Rate Fears

Market Data as of Week Ending: 10/01/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks fell last week, ending September in negative territory, breaking a seven-month winning streak and rounding out the worst monthly decline since the onset of the pandemic. Investor sentiment seemed to be weighed down by inflation and interest rate fears as many viewed the Fed’s policy statement in a hawkish light. Small cap stocks outperformed both their larger sized peers and value stocks outperformed their growth counterparts by a wide margin. Sector performance was mixed as more cyclical and economically sensitive sectors such as energy and financials held up well. Information technology and traditionally defensive sectors such as health care and real estate finished the week with losses. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia underperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks outperformed both.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields jumped last week as the 10-year hit a 3-month high before ending the week at 1.46%. U.S. Treasury bonds sold off as inflation and a more hawkish Fed increased expectations for an accelerated tapering and rate hike timeline. Short and intermediate government and corporate bonds eked out small gains while the sudden rise in yields put pressure on long duration bonds. Investment grade and high yield corporate bond yields remained relatively flat and ended the week with yields above 2.1% and 4.6%, respectively.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week delivered mostly mixed results as investors’ focus remained intent on Friday’s inflation reading. Durable goods orders increased 1.8% in August as the increase in flying and rebound at Boeing gave a boost. U.S. consumer confidence fell to 109.3, marking a seven-month low, as the spread of delta and inflation has weighed on consumers. Jobless claims jumped to a two-month high due to a surge in California. Consumers continued to increase their spending in August, jumping by 0.8%, but only saw their incomes rise a modest 0.2%. The cost of what consumers are purchasing rose sharply again in August as the personal consumption expenditure price index climbed 0.4%. The Eurozone’s been impacted by inflation as the Bank of England (BoE) Governor Andrew Bailey said that UK gross domestic product probably won’t recover to pre-pandemic levels until early next year—a few months later than previously predicted.

 

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U.S. Stocks Rebound After Declines Early in The Week

Market Data as of Week Ending: 9/24/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks rebounded and finished the week in positive territory after declines early in the week. Investor sentiment shifted following the Fed’s announcement that they could begin reducing the monthly asset purchases as soon as next meeting. Mid cap stocks outperformed both smaller and larger sized peers and value stocks generally outperformed their growth counterparts. Sector performance was mixed with gains in more cyclical and economically sensitive sectors such as energy and financials. Traditionally defensive sectors such as real estate, utilities, consumer staples, and health care finished the week with losses. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia underperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks lagged developed foreign markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields advanced sharply as the 10-year increased to finish the week at 1.45%. Projections from the Fed showed that half of officials expect at least one interest rate hike in 2023 and inflation expectations have increased for next year. All bond segments finished the week with losses and the sudden rise in yields put the most pressure on long duration government bonds. Despite a favorable backdrop for risk assets, both investment grade and high yield corporate bond yields rose and ended the week with yields above 2.1% and 4.6%, respectively.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week was mostly overshadowed by the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting. However, there were a few notable reports that delivered mixed results. Shortly after reaching a recovery low, weekly jobless claims rose for the second consecutive week to 351,000. Both the services and manufacturing flash PMI figures declined compared to last month and came in below expectations at 54.4 and 60.5, respectively. However, housing data was much better as both housing starts and permits beat expectations. Housing starts in August increased nearly 4% compared to last month and more than 17% year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,615,000. Economic data was also unfavorable for Europe as the Flash Eurozone PMI Composite dropped to a 5-month low of 56.1.

 

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How actively managed model portfolios in 401(k) plans can benefit retirement plan advisors

Actively managed model portfolios are becoming increasingly prominent across the retirement industry. There has been a major shift away from the antiquated approach of managing portfolios via recordkeeping systems, towards a modeling system where portfolios can be unitized at a global level and synchronized across plans, reducing the time and hassle of distributing model portfolios to plan participants.

Mid Atlantic Capital Group designed ModelxChange®, an actively managed model portfolio platform, to benefit plan participants by allowing advisors to efficiently integrate ETF and mutual fund investment strategies into 401(k) plans. We were among the first to provide this technology over a decade ago, which was a unique option compared to the primarily retail-oriented models offered at the time. As the retirement industry began to see increased demand for active management, our model platform continues to be a leader in this space.

Model portfolio trends in the industry today

As the demand and usage of models becomes more widely used, we see three key trends driving the retirement plan industry today:

  • Efficiency is key. Retirement plan advisors are constantly looking for more efficient ways to manage plans, investment menus and offerings for their participants. Investors are also looking for a more efficient path toward retirement, calling for a “work smarter, not harder” mindset. The Mid Atlantic platform is a one-stop shop where managers and advisors can run different rebalances, manage allocation changes and fund swaps at a global level and see a trickle-down effect across the entire platform for their plans and participants. ModelxChange is a great way for advisors to internally run their own models, if desired, or use the third-party management features to free up more time to advance their business and relationships with current and future clients. This flexibility has also been increasingly important throughout the pandemic, as the retirement industry took a major hit and participants needed the extra one-on-one time with their advisors.
  • Active management is growing. The transition from passive management to active management is another trend fueling the shift to model portfolios. Participants feel more comfortable having their investments managed by a professional money manager who is responsible for their choices. This style of management allows for a portfolio to be highly personalized to the individual investor and desired risk tolerances. After the turbulence of 2020, customized risk management is seen as essential by many investors.
  • Technology is driving adoption. As in most industries, technology also plays into the increased traction for model portfolios. Technology is rapidly outpacing the older systems that have long been in place and offers more flexibility to those who have investments in model portfolios. For example, if a participant leaves their company or retires, but likes their current investments, investments from a 401(k) can be rolled over into an IRA or other type of retirement plan within the platform itself. This provides flexibility (and added value)  to participants who want to take their investments wherever they go. In the Mid Atlantic platform, a rollover is possible today with a little effort, but we believe as the industry evolves, rollovers could be processed with the click of a button.. Advisors should expect to see this evolution happening sooner rather than later.

Benefits of model portfolios in 401(k) plans

Model portfolios and ModelxChange are so attractive to advisors and sponsors because of the customization, flexibility and personal touch they provide. In traditional investments, risk tolerance is based on age. Alternatively, with the active approach taken in model portfolios, advisors can plug in key points and dive into the personal risk tolerance of the individual investor, regardless of that person’s age. This offers a level of freedom not found in other platforms.

The ability to customize investment strategies encourages people to stay invested in their accounts. Far too often, early-career individuals get discouraged by a big loss and stop investing. On the other end of the spectrum, if someone nearing retirement experiences a big loss, their timeline could be completely derailed. A customizable, active management style and the increased agility it provides, can help prevent such occurrences.

Download brochure on Mid Atlantic's ModelxChange Gallery platform

Download brochure on Mid Atlantic’s ModelxChange Gallery platform

ModelxChange is an open-architecture platform. Managers and advisors can build models that are not limited to plan fund lineups, offering greater flexibility. In the Mid Atlantic model portfolio platform, there are over 27,000 investments available to build into these strategies, providing managers with a large pool of options. After the initial portfolio construction, investments can be swapped in and out, as desired

The coronavirus pandemic derailed people’s lives and initiated a retirement crisis for the whole country. When stressful circumstances occur, such as the unavoidable economic struggles people have experienced over the past year, advisors need to free up time to touch base with their clients and calm their fears. An active approach to investing for retirement could be the solution that helps those impacted get back on the right track, especially when coupled with a models-based strategy that offers customization, increased efficiency and less of a time commitment compared to the outdated approaches lingering in the industry today.

For more information on ModelxChange, click here or feel free to reach out to me directly and I’d be happy to show you the efficiencies the system can provide you.

Steve Warden
SVP Institutional Retirement Services | Mid Atlantic Trust Company
A: 1251 Waterfront Place
P: 1-800-693-7800

 

 

 

Inflation Eases but Labor and Supply Challenges Remain

Market Data as of Week Ending: 9/17/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks were generally down for the week as the economic impact of the coronavirus continues to present supply challenges and labor shortages. Some investors are concerned that stock prices do not reflect additional problems that may arise from the coronavirus becoming endemic. The S&P 500 is expected to grow earnings more than 27% in the third quarter, which is the third-highest growth rate since 2010. Small cap stocks outperformed their larger peers and while styles such as value and growth were less important. Most major economic sectors were down for the week with notable exceptions in the energy, consumer discretionary, and real estate sectors. The materials and utilities sectors were the worst performing sectors as both were down more than 3%. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia underperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks lagged developed foreign markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields were mixed as the 10-year increased and ended the week at 1.36%, whereas the 30-year declined and ended the week at 1.91%. The combination of lower yields and risk aversion was favorable for long duration government and corporate bonds as both recorded solid gains for the week. Intermediate-term government bonds were the worst performing segment. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields above 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds are yielding nearly 4.6%.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week was generally better than expected and was headlined by inflation data that shows signs of easing. The Labor Department announced that consumer price inflation dropped for the second consecutive month in August. After reaching 0.9% in June, the figures in July and August have come back down to 0.5% and 0.3% respectively. The year-over-year growth rate remains elevated at 5.3% but also declined compared to the prior month of 5.4%. After excluding food and energy, the year-over-year core inflation rate fell from 4.3% to 4.0%. Retail sales increased 0.7% in August, rebounding from a drop in July and were better than expected. Excluding autos, the gains were even stronger, up 1.8% with strong demand across a wide range of products. Weekly jobless claims rose to 332,000 yet remains near the recovery low.

 

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U.S. Stocks Declined as Economic Growth Slows

Market Data as of Week Ending: 9/10/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks declined as economic growth slows from the recent spike in coronavirus cases and a combination of persistent supply and labor challenges. Investors will soon start to shift attention toward the next quarterly cycle of financial reporting. The S&P 500 is expected to deliver a 27.9% earnings growth rate for the third quarter. Larger companies outperformed small and mid-sized peers and growth stocks generally outperformed their value counterparts. All major economic sectors were down for the week with losses most notably in the real estate, health care, and industrials sectors. The consumer discretionary sector was the best performing sector followed by communication services, and a few defensive sectors such as consumer staples and utilities. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia outperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks narrowly lagged developed foreign markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields generally moved higher as the 10-year ended the week at 1.34%. Longer duration government and corporate bonds recorded gains for the week as investors looked for safety to offset some of the risk in other assets. Long-term corporate bonds were the best performing segment and intermediate-term government bonds lagged the most. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields at just over 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds are approximately 4.6%.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week has increased concern for some investors that economic growth may have peaked in the first half of the year. The Federal Reserve revealed through their reporting that economic growth slowed in August and was largely attributable to a reduction in dining, travel, and tourism in most parts of the country. Despite slower economic activity, businesses continue to face higher input and production costs as supply has not been able to keep up with demand. Producer Price Inflation (PPI) rose 8.3% from a year ago, which is the largest increase in more than 10 years. On the positive side, weekly jobless claims reached another new recovery low of 310,000 even though the figure remains elevated compared to the weekly average of 218,000 back in 2019.

 

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U.S. Stocks Advanced Despite Coronavirus and Weak Jobs Report

Market Data as of Week Ending: 9/3/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks advanced despite a combination of rising coronavirus cases in most parts of the U.S. and a weaker than expected jobs report. The S&P 500 set another record high on Thursday as companies near the end of quarterly reporting with a 90.9% earnings growth rate for the second quarter. 87% of companies in the S&P 500 reported either a positive earnings or revenue surprise, which are the highest values since FactSet began tracking this metric in 2008. Size was not a significant factor, but growth stocks once again outperformed their value counterparts. Most of the major economic sectors were positive and led by gains in more defensive sectors such as real estate, healthcare, and consumer staples. Economically sensitive sectors such as financials, energy, materials, and industrials were down and lagged the broader market. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia outperformed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks significantly outperformed both developed foreign and U.S. markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields narrowly moved higher as the 10-year ended the week at 1.32%. Bond market sentiment favored risk assets as high yield bonds outperformed and long-term government bonds were the only major segment in negative territory. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields at just over 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds dropped to 4.6%.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data released during the week was generally worse than expected. The U.S. non-farm payrolls increased by 235,000 which was substantially lower than the consensus expectations for a gain of nearly 750,000. Despite the deceleration in job gains, the unemployment rate fell to a new recovery low of 5.2%. Weekly jobless claims also reached a new recovery low of 340,000 yet remains elevated relative to the weekly average of 218,000 back in 2019. There are still more than 5 million fewer jobs in the U.S. than in February 2020 and approximately 3 million people have dropped out of the labor force. In other economic news, housing prices advanced 1.8% for the month while pending home sales dropped for the second consecutive month. The ISM reported that the Services PMI® dropped from the all-time high of 64.1 in July to 61.7 which is the 15th consecutive month of growth for the services sector.

 

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Markets Rebound as the Fed Reflects

Market Data as of Week Ending: 8/27/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stocks rebounded after the prior week’s fall, regaining nearly all the ground lost earlier. The S&P 500 set a record high, closing above the 4,500-point mark for the first time, as the market was supported by FDA vaccination approvals and positive economic growth data. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell confirmed that the central bank expects to begin its tapering program later this year, but to the surprise of many, didn’t set a specific date and warned against rushing to tighten monetary policy. Small-cap companies surged, outperforming their large and mid-cap peers while growth stocks led their value counterparts. The indices were led by economically sensitive sectors such as energy, financials, and materials while traditionally defensive sectors lagged the broader market. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia outpaced U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks significantly outperformed both developed foreign and U.S. markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields moved higher off the comments surrounding the tapering timeline. The 10-year ended the week at 1.31%. Long-term high yield bonds rebounded while long-term government bonds lagged after strong performance back-to-back weeks. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields near the same level at approximately 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds fell to just below 4.7%.

Macroeconomic Data

The economic data released during the last full week of August provided a mixed outlook. Flash PMI readings for the manufacturing and services sectors in August came in lower than expectations but remained in positive territory. U.S. durable-goods orders fell in July due to weaker demand for planes, despite strong demand in other parts of the economy. The U.S. grew at a faster pace in the spring than previously estimated as the second quarter GDP was revised to an annualized rate of 6.6%. Consumer spending slowed in July as the resurgence of COVID-19 infections weighed on the economy. The U.S. inflation rate hit a 30-year high as the PCE price index rose to 0.4% in July. The eurozone economy appeared to remain in expansion mode in August, with the early headline number for IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index coming in at 59.5, slightly lower than the preceding month but remained robust relative to historical levels.

 

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Stocks Move Lower as Taper Talks Intensify

Market Data as of Week Ending: 8/20/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stock prices pulled back last week as markets experienced their worst week in over two months. Concerns surrounding the Delta variant, Fed tapering, and growing geopolitical issues weighed on investors’ minds. The most recent Fed minutes revealed an increasing likelihood that it may advance its taper timeline, stripping the market of the perceived safety net. Large cap companies outperformed their small and mid cap peers while growth stocks held up better than their value counterparts. The indices were weighed down by economically sensitive sectors such as energy, materials, and financials. Health care, information technology and consumer staples appeared more resilient as they posted gains for the week. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia trailed U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks significantly underperformed both developed foreign and U.S. markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly despite the Fed’s taper talk. The 10-year ended the week at 1.26%. Long-term government bonds were the best performing segment for the second week in a row while long-term high yield bonds lagged. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields near the same level at approximately 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds rose to just below 4.8%.

Macroeconomic Data

It was a relatively light and mixed week on the economic front. Americans reduced their spending in July as retail sales slumped -1.1% for the month, largely reflecting the decline in car-buying. U.S. industrial production rose by 0.9% in July, its fastest pace since March. Home-builder confidence sank to its lowest level in over a year as the NAHB home builder’s confidence index fell five points to 75 in August. Jobless claims fell to a pandemic low of 348,000 in mid-August, showing that companies are still hiring despite the Delta variant. The Philly Fed manufacturing index fell slightly to 19.4 in August, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline. Heavy flooding and COVID-19 outbreaks across China weighed on the countries retail sales and consumer services, as many monthly economic indicators missed expectations in July.

 

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Stocks Creep Higher as Consumer Sentiment Falls

Market Data as of Week Ending: 8/13/2021 unless noted otherwise

Equities

U.S. stock prices crept higher last week, extending their recent run of small gains amid quiet trading. Investors continue to shrug off the renewed spread of the coronavirus as U.S. economic data has proved resilient to Delta variant concerns. With earnings season nearing the finish line, roughly 83% of the companies have topped revenue forecasts, and approximately 85% have bested earnings estimates. Large cap companies outperformed their small and mid cap peers while value stocks outperformed their growth counterparts. Most sectors advanced, led by materials and consumer staples. Energy stocks retreated as concerns that the spread of COVID-19 infections could weigh on global demand. Information technology and consumer discretionary also lagged driven by the weakness in the semiconductor industry. Developed foreign stocks in Europe and Asia edged out U.S. stocks while Emerging Market stocks underperformed both developed foreign and U.S. markets.

Bonds

U.S. Treasury yields remained relatively unchanged as economic data delivered mixed messages. The 10-year ended the week at 1.28%. Long-term government bonds were the best performing segment while short-term high yield bonds lagged. Investment grade corporate bonds ended the week with yields near the same level at approximately 2.0% and high yield corporate bonds rose to just over 4.7%.

Macroeconomic Data

Economic data was somewhat mixed for the week. The number of job openings rose to a record 10.1 million in June, making it the fourth straight all-time monthly high. The NFIB small-business index fell to 99.7 in July as business owners are losing confidence in the strength of the economy and expect a slowdown in job creation. U.S. consumer prices may be showing signs of moderating as July’s CPI decreased by 0.4% to 0.5%, mostly led by the moderation in used car prices. Producer prices, on the other hand, rose sharply in July for the sixth month in a row. U.S. consumer sentiment took a blow as it fell to 77.9 in August’s early report, its lowest reading since December 2011. Japanese wholesale prices rose by an annualized rate of 5.6% in July, their quickest annual rate in 13 years, mainly due to rising import costs amid surging commodity prices.

 

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