A dose of good news from a European summit last Friday helped fuel a strong rally in world financial markets and took some of the sting out of a weak second quarter.
With the expectation bar set very low, the 19th European Union (EU) summit since 2008 “delivered more steps toward fiscal integration than pessimistic investors had expected,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Four new measures in particular sent a signal to investors that the EU is taking steps toward a banking union, which could lead to a fiscal union, which could lead to a political union, which could lead to a much stronger European economic bloc. Even though much would have to go right for that sequence of events to occur, investors felt Germany made some important concessions at the meeting which could eventually pave the way for a stronger EU. So, maybe, just maybe, the 19th time is the charm. We’ll see.
After an incredibly strong first quarter, stocks gave up some of those gains in the second quarter as the S&P 500 index dropped 3.3 percent. Here are a few concerns that weighed on investors during the past three months:
- Political question marks in the U.S.
- Another flare-up of worry over Europe
- Slowing global economic growth
- Concern that the Federal Reserve may be near the limit in its ability to prop up the economy
Despite these worries, the S&P 500 index is still up a very respectable 8.3 percent for the year due to the very strong first quarter.
The second half of the year will likely offer some fireworks as we have a presidential election, the continuing saga in Europe, and a looming “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year, which could usher in a number of major tax-and-spending changes, according to BusinessWeek.
In the meantime, enjoy the 4th of July fireworks this week!
The rest of the commentary can be found here.
Please be sure to visit the Parks Wealth Management website at www.parkswm.com.
James T. Parks, CFP®, AEP, AIF
President and Wealth Advisor