A Look at the Market’s Big Picture

Just a few days into August and markets seem to have picked up where they left off in July.

Here’s a summary of market action and key developments from last month, including monthly benchmarks.

  • Investors saw more data indicating that healing is underway in the global economy. Increased optimism paved the way for a fifth consecutive month of gains across world markets.
  • International stocks advanced. The MSCI World Index returned 8.4% (in $US terms). Since March 9th, the MSCI Asia Index has risen about 58% in local currency terms.
  • Commodity prices rose. Copper is up more than 80% year-to-date supported by increased demand from China. The S&P/TSX Composite Index benefited, adding 4%. The S&P/TSX has climbed 45% since hitting a five-year low on March 9th.
  • In the U.S., stocks made up more ground. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had its best month since 2002, up 8.6% . The S&P 500 Index advanced for the fifth consecutive month (the longest streak since 2007) gaining 7.6% . The S&P 500 is now up more than 40% since March 9th and Monday, it closed above the 1,000 level for the first time since November 2008.
  • Volatility continued to be a key theme in currency markets. After falling more than 6% against the U.S. dollar in June, the Canadian dollar appreciated by 7.4% versus its U.S. counterpart in July. This cut into returns on investments denominated in $US. Case in point, the 7.4% gain on the S&P 500 was essentially wiped out when converted back to C$.

With much of the latest economic news continuing to look less bad (over 70% of companies beat expectations last quarter and it appears US housing may have found a bottom), the economy looks to be on the mend.
However, we must realize that the rate of recovery that we are seeing is not normal and likely cannot be maintained long-term. That said, as an investor looking out 5+ years I belive valuations in the equity market are still low and the potential remains for double-digit returns heading forward over a 5+ year horizon.

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