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Market Commentary - Page 4

Admit it: You smile every time you pull up into a gas station these days, and for good reason — you know it’s going to cost you less to fill up than last time.

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It’s been a busy few weeks for Japan’s government and its long-running but as-yet-unsuccessful effort to get its economy moving forward again.

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No doubt, 2014 has been a good year for municipal bond investors. Through the first 10 months of the year, the Barclays Municipal Bond Index is up 8.3%. Among major asset groups, that return trails only the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of large-cap stocks.

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In just a few months, oil has plunged roughly 25%, with Tuesday’s closing price of just over $77 for a barrel of West Texas crude marking its lowest level in more than three years. Gasoline at the pump is going for less than $3 a gallon in much of the country. For U.S. businesses and consumers, oil’s freefall amounts to an economic windfall.

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It’s official. Quantitative easing in the U.S. is over. Now our collective attention turns to the next watershed moment in the monetary-tightening cycle — when the Federal Reserve makes its first move to raise interest rates.

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