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The Markets

Volatility returned to the equities markets in the third quarter, impacted by economic stress in China (the world's second largest economy) and Greece, coupled with underwhelming corporate earnings reports and falling energy stock prices.  While some economic sectors, such as housing and unemployment, offered favorable news, others, including exports and wages, showed little in the way of positive movement.  As a result, the Federal Open Market Committee once again declined to raise interest rates, noting that inflation still hadn't reached the committee's preferred target rate of 2.0%.

Despite a closing rally in the major market indexes listed here, the third quarter ended a tumultuous period in negative territory.  The Dow closed the month of September down 243.33 points for the month and 1,334.81 points for the quarter.  The S&P fell 6.94% from the close of the second quarter and 6.74% for the year.  The nasdaq dropped 7.35% for the quarter, but only 2.45% for the year -- markedly less than the other major indexes listed here.  The Russell 2000 and the Global Dow suffered the biggest percentage losses for the quarter, falling 12.22% and 10.58%, respectively.

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Quarter Market Review

The Markets (as of market close August 31, 2015)

Despite favorable economic news later in the month, the U.S. stock market was unable to recover all of its losses and closed in negative territory compared to July.  Key factors in the downturn include fear that China's economy is weakening, the steep drop in the price of oil, lackluster corporate earnings reports, and the potential for an imminent interest rate hike.  Each of the major market indexes listed here dropped between 6% and 7.50% for the month.  The Dow, down more than 6.50%, marked its largest percentage decline since May 2010.  Year-to-date, only the Nasdaq remained in positive territory -- but only barely.

At the close of August, the price of gold (COMEX) was $1,134.90.  Crude oil (WTI) prices remained below $50 a barrell, selling at $47.86/barrell by month's end.

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The Markets



The Markets (as of market close July 31, 2015)

Despite a generally sluggish economy, some mundane corporate earnings reports, the Greek debt crisis, and China's stock market upheaval, the stock markets posted moderate gains, for the most part.  The biggest gainer for the month was the Nasdaq, up 141 points to 5128, followed by the S&P 500, which ended the month higher by almost 2%.  The apparent prevention of a major economic meltdown in Greece may have prompted foreign investors to start buying as the Global Dow finished the month up over 1%.  As to the major U.S. stock market indexes, only the Dow remains in negative territory for the year, down 0.75%, with the remaining indexes in the black for the year.

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Market Month July 2015


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The Markets

As winter weather lost its chokehold on the U.S. economy, investors grew increasingly comfortable with the Federal Reserve's slow-and-steady approach to determine when to raise short-term interest rates.  Historic closes were reached by the large-cap Dow (18351) and S&P 500 (2134), while the small-cap Nasdaq (5164) and Russell 2000 (1296) also reached all-time highs during the second quarter.  Unfortunately, those gains were all but wiped out as the financial crisis in Greece affected markets domestically and around the world.  Both the Dow and S&P 500 lost 0.88 points and 0.23 points respectively compared to the end of the first quarter.  The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 still finished ahead of last quarter, but not by much.

U.S. Treasury prices declined from the first quarter, with corresponding yields making their biggest gains since 2013.  The decrease in bond prices was largely attributable to increased consumer spending coupled with investor confidence in the equity markets, which encouraged more money shifting from bonds to equities.  Lower unemployment rates along with a slowly improving economy are additional factors leading to lower prices/higher yields.

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Quarter Market Review