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Market Commentary - Page 3

As of this week, more than 70% of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 have reported earnings for the latest quarter, revealing a few trends that create some concern about U.S. equities in 2014. Revenue growth is well short of earnings growth and has shown no signs yet of picking up.

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Recently I was asked to discuss the state of the market so far in 2014 and to offer some thoughts on where we see opportunity. It is certainly a challenging market with complications provided by the Fed’s necessary but disruptive move to taper its monetary stimulus and the extremely cold weather across the United States. Despite this year’s rocky start, investors are still overwhelmingly bullish even as fundamental valuations are getting stretched ever tighter.

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In voting unanimously to continue reining in its monetary stimulus, the Federal Reserve this week made it clear that its focus is squarely on the U.S. economy, even if its decisions add to the current pressure being felt in emerging markets.

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The Federal Reserve holds its first meeting of 2014 next week, and it’s likely to be an eventful gathering. It will be Ben Bernanke’s final days as Fed chairman before handing over the gavel to Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold that position, and the policymakers are expected to trim another $10 billion from the Fed’s monthly bond-buying program.

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After a couple of years of persistently dour reports, the flow of positive indicators out of Europe is broadening from a trickle to a respectable stream.

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