Riding the momentum following the presidential election, stocks surged for much of the first quarter of 2017. Buoyed by the anticipation of tax cuts and policies favorable to domestic businesses, the benchmark indexes listed here reached historic highs throughout the quarter. At the end of January, the Dow reached the magic 20000 mark for the first time, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained almost 4.50% for the month. The trend continued in February, as stocks posted solid monthly gains. The Dow closed the month with a run of 12 consecutive daily closings that reached all-time highs. The S&P 500 also achieved a milestone -- 50 consecutive trading sessions without a daily swing of more than 1.0%. At the close of trading in February, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted year-to-date gains, led by the Nasdaq, which was up over 8.0%.
March began with a bang but ended with a whimper. The Dow closed the first week of the month at over 21000, while the Nasdaq gained over 9.0% year-to-date. However, energy stocks slipped as the price of oil began to fall. Entering mid-March, investors exercised caution pending the potential Fed interest rate hike and the push for a new health-care law. Following its mid-March meeting, the Fed raised interest rates 25 basis points, while the move to replace the ACA with a new health-care law failed for lack of congressional support.
In it's fifth year, our Muncie office enjoyed a day of food, networking and basketball with clients and community leaders on the opening day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The weather was cooperative, the games were great, and the company was outstanding.
The economy picked up the pace in November, as did the stock market. After getting off to a sluggish start durinig the early part of the month, equities soared following the results of the presidential election. Each of the indexes listed here reached record highs during the month. The Russell 2000 posted the largest monthly gain, reaching double digits. Energy stocks jumped at the end of the month following OPEC's agreement to cut production. Investors seemed willing to sell bonds and buy stocks as evidenced by the yield on 10-year Treasuries, which jumped 56 basis points by the end of the month and now exceeds their 2015 closing yield. Gold lost value, closing November at $1,174.80, down $103 from its October closing value of $1,277.80.
The year 2016 likely will be remembered for the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States and the Brexit vote. This year also saw the Fed raise interest rates for the first time since last December, noting that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace since midyear. While inflation remains below the Fed's target of 2.0%, the Committee expects inflation to rise to its target level over the medium term on the heels of anticipated improvements in energy and import prices and continued labor strengthening. Equities began the year hitting the skids as receding oil prices and a plummeting Chinese stock market pushed stock prices down and bond prices up. By midyear equities had recovered, despite Great Britain's decision to exit the European Union. Following the results of the presidential election, stocks surged to new highs. Whether this trend continues in 2017 remains to be seen following President-elect Trump's first few months in office.
The second quarter provided a bumpy ride for investors. Following the upheaval caused by the Brexit vote in June, July kicked off the third quarter by ending the month in favorable fashion, as each of the indexes listed here posted month-to-month gains, led by the Russell 2000 (5.90%) and the Nasdaq (6.60%). Stocks held their own for July, despite falling energy shares, as crude oil prices (WTI) sank from around $49 per barrel to under $42 by the close of July. As money moved into equities, bond yields remained on the low side as the yield on 10-year Treasuries remained below 1.60%, closing July at just about where it started at 1.45%.
The dog days of summer saw light trading in August, but that didn't stop the markets from moving sharply. By the middle of the month, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq had surged to all-time highs -- the first time since 1999 that all three indexes reached a new high at the same time. Yet by the end of August, each of the indexes listed here saw their values fall back to about where they were at the beginning of the month. The large-cap Dow and S&P 500 fell ever so slightly from July's closing values, while the Russell 2000 and Global Dow posted modest gains for the month. Crude oil fell below $40 per barrell during the month, but rebounded to close the month at about $45 per barrel. Bond prices fell as the yield on 10-year Treasuries reached 1.60%.