Research & Insights

Our investment decisions flow from incisive perspectives.

January 2016

Kai W. Hong, CFA
Managing Director & Chief Investment Strategist

The momentum from the strong rally in October had already begun to weaken in December, but the decline in markets that started the year was truly breathtaking. By the third week in January, major market indexes were down around 10% or more as concerns grew over weakening economic data from China and concerns that declining oil prices signaled broader global weakness. In fact, oil prices fell below $30 a barrel for the first time in 12 years. Some of the momentum leaders of the prior year (AMZN, NFLX) became significant laggards, falling twice as much as the broader market. Ineffectual market interventions by the Chinese government further undermined confidence. Data in the US was more negative as well with employment statistics showing mixed results, manufacturing struggling as the stronger US dollar weighed, and corporate profits showing signs of decline. Volatility could be found everywhere, and uncertainty was the norm.

While there was some recovery in prices by the end of the month, market performance in January still ended up broadly negative. The Russell 3000 Index finished the month down -5.6% with defensive sectors such as Utilities and Consumer Staples leading while Health Care, Materials, and Financials lagged significantly. US small cap stocks were meaningfully worse as the Russell 2000 Index fell -8.8%. Outside of the US, performance was similarly challenged. The developed market MSCI World ex USA Index returned -6.8%, and the developing market MSCI Emerging Markets Index returned -6.5%.

2015 Year in Review | January 2016

Kai W. Hong, CFA
Managing Director & Chief Investment Strategist, Bivium Capital

The first half of 2015 largely continued the choppiness of the prior year as many markets remained somewhat rangebound. Markets were fairly narrow with a handful of larger cap, growth-oriented names with the so- called “FANGs” – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google leading the way. Sector dispersion was broad with Health Care and Consumer Staples leading and commodity areas such as Energy and Materials lagging significantly. Despite a severe correction in global equity markets in August, central bank accommodation helped facilitate the recovery of the majority of the decline by the end of the year.