The second quarter ended with all eyes on Greece after the country failed to reach an agreement with its creditors. The impasse resulted in shuttered banks and imposed capital controls, at least until a July 5 referendum on whether to accept further austerity measures in exchange for a European bailout. The Mediterranean country also defaulted on its €1.5 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Eurozone and domestic markets tumbled on news of the continuing debt drama, with the Dow Jones, broad-market S&P 500 and the EAFE international indices dipping slightly into negative territory for the quarter. Of the three major domestic benchmarks, only the NASDAQ gained ground since March.
6/30/15 Close 3/31/15 Close Change Gain/Loss
DJIA 17,619.51 17,776.12 -156.61 -0.88%
NASDAQ 4,986.87 4,900.89 +85.98 1.75%
S&P 500 2,063.12 2,067.89 -4.77 -0.23%
MSCI EAFE 1,842.46 1,849.34 -6.88 -0.37%
Performance reflects price returns as of 4:15 p.m. EDT, June 30, 2015.
Some investors view the near-term volatility as a buying opportunity. “The Eurozone is going to take any steps necessary to protect its financial system,” believes Raymond James Chartered Market Technician Andrew Adams, “therefore, I continue to think Europe is going to be a favorable place to invest.”
The S&P 500 had been working its way toward its all-time high this month, but lost ground as the Greek crisis dragged on. Improving economic data (e.g., strong, steady pace for job growth with more than 3 million jobs added in the past 12 months) came on the heels of the government’s negative estimate of first-quarter GDP. However, that softness reflected the transitory impact of bad weather, West Coast port delays and a stronger dollar.
“Other measures, such as national income and domestic final sales, continued to reflect expansion in the first half of the year,” notes Chief Economist Scott Brown, “and the economy appears to be picking up steam heading into the second half.”
The Federal Reserve maintains that future monetary policy decisions will be data-dependent and expects conditions to warrant an initial increase in short-term interest rates by year-end with future increases expected to be very gradual. Policymakers will continue to watch overseas markets, as well, for signs of an adverse impact on our own economy.
“Concerns about the rest of the world (Greece, China, Latin America, and Puerto Rico) may be with us for a while,” says Brown, “but the fundamentals of the U.S. economy appear to be in good shape.”
I will continue to update you on relevant geopolitical events and market movements, especially if I come across anything that could impact your long-term financial plan.
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