This last Weekly Insight of 2019 highlights the end of another eventful year. We came into 2019 with some fire under our feet after closing out 2018 with increased market volatility. The VIX, a measure of market volatility, was at 30 a year ago today. Now, it’s closer to 13 and is well below its average of 19 since its inception in 1990.
Equities posted a solid week of gains. We noted at the end of November how it was rare for December to be down in back-to-back years. Despite a tough start to the month, the S&P 500 has gained in eight of the last 11 trading days. For the month, the S&P 500 is now up 1.7%, whereas small caps have gained 2.4%.
The Federal Reserve rate-setting committee voted unanimously to leave the federal funds rate unchanged. Rate cutting intervention was deemed necessary to offset slowing economic growth toward the end of 2018. The broad expectation is for rates to stay the same for at least a little while. We come to this opinion due to future probabilities of changes in the market.
Equities started the month off on a soft note with the S&P 500 falling 1.3% over the past week. Domestic small caps were down a similar number while foreign developed equities fared better with a 0.9% decline. Despite the equity drop, fixed income didn’t provide any offset as the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index was flat on the week.