Q1 2016 Review: A White Knuckle Ride Of Mixed Emotions

in Market Commentary by

It’s been a great quarter at Personal Capital, and we’re excited to share our review of what has happened in markets, what to expect going forward, and how we’ve grown as a company in our Market Review & Outlook for Q1 2016. CEO Bill Harris celebrated his birthday in March on the same day we crossed the $2 billion mark in assets under management (AUM), and today that number has grown to $2.2 billion; over 1 million registered users track their finances through our dashboard; and just this week we welcomed new fiduciary rule standards. Read on for an overview of market activity this quarter:

Currency & Gold
The US dollar took a breather in Q1, losing roughly 5% against the euro and 6% against the yen. Several emerging market currencies fared even better. Trying to time currency moves is very difficult and often proves costly. In the short term, despite Q1, the dollar still has strong momentum. With a longer-term perspective, we note that the dollar appears expensive on a purchasing power basis relative to most currencies. We’re happy to have appropriate levels of currency exposure to both developed and emerging market currencies in the form of international stocks and local currency bonds.

US Stocks
This bull market has been dominated by growth stocks, large-cap growth in particular. As is usually the case, investors have chased the hot segment and piled into large growth names. Stocks like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Disney and Visa are easy to like, and they have become very popular – especially starting in late 2014 and 2015.

Oil & China
China remains an enigma. It is clear the rate of growth is slowing. How much and how fast, and what that means for the global economy, is yet to be seen. We’re more bearish than most on China’s prospects in the short term, but not overly concerned about the impact on global equity markets.

Capital Markets Outlook
Globally minded investors with a mix of different types of bonds and alternatives should
sleep well at night. Those who sit in cash or short-term bonds will almost surely lose to inflation over time. Those who remain concentrated in US stocks may ride the trend a little longer, but this is becoming increasingly risky as the asset class fights loftier valuations.

For more updates, remember to check out our full quarterly report here.

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Craig Birk, CFP®

Craig Birk, CFP®

Craig Birk is a member of the Personal Capital Advisors Investment Committee. He also serves as Vice President of Portfolio Management. Prior to Personal Capital Advisors, he was an integral leader within the portfolio management team at Fisher Investments. During Craig’s time there, the company increased assets under management from $1.5 billion under management to over $40 billion. His responsibilities included risk management, portfolio implementation oversight, and management of all securities and capital markets research analysts. Mr. Birk graduated from the University of California at San Diego and has earned the Certified Financial Planner® designation.

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