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U.S. large-cap stocks have been strong performers so far in 2017. Through Tuesday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up nearly 9% on a total-return basis. But that number might have a casual market-watcher wondering, “Really? Only 9%?”

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Credit spreads for corporate bonds — the yield difference between corporates and Treasuries of the same maturity — are close to the tightest they’ve been in the past two decades.

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The final few earnings reports are yet to trickle in, but it’s already clear that U.S. large-cap stocks had a much better first quarter than the market had anticipated. Prospects for the Standard & Poor’s in coming quarters are generally seen as positive, though with a couple of potential caveats.

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is near a record high and volatility is close to a quarter-century low. It’s a combination that would seem optimal for those who enjoy watching their wealth grow but at the same time value a good night’s sleep. However, some worry about the quiet.

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When it comes to U.S. economic expectations, the fixed income market appears to be both optimistic and pessimistic. Pessimists see several challenges ahead such as a slowinggrowth trend, a legislative stalemate in Washington, and ongoing political turmoil in Europe andNorth Korea. However, optimists believe stronger earnings are an indication of improving economicconditions.

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