December 11, 2023 | portfolio managers' brief

Portfolio Managers’ Brief: December 2023

BY: Jason Ayres
A brief review of market conditions and how they are impacting the management decisions of our Investment Review Committee (IRC).



U.S. Stock Market:

Significant Growth in Major Indexes: The S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq all showed notable growth in November, with YTD increases of 18%, 9%, and 43%, respectively. (12/07/2023)

Record Highs and Robust Performance: The Dow reached a new high for 2023, and the Nasdaq is on track for its third-best annual performance in two decades.

Equity Market Rally Broadening:

Early 2023 Performance Concentration: Initially, market gains were driven by a small group of large companies. The top 10 companies in the S&P 500 represented about 30% of the total index market cap.

Broadening Market Rally: More S&P 500 stocks (about 55%) are trading above their 200-day moving averages, indicating a more widespread rally.

Improved Performance in Diverse Sectors: Small-cap and bank stocks show improvement, suggesting a broadening of market gains beyond major tech companies.

Canadian Stock Market:

S&P/TSX Composite Index Growth: The index is up nearly 4% YTD, influenced by an improved outlook for interest rates and a shift from bonds to equities. (12/07/2023)

Influences on Market Sentiment: Comments from the Bank of Canada, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and quarterly earnings results contributed to cautious optimism in the market.

Global Markets:

Strong Global Market Rebound: A 9% increase in the MSCI All Country World Index in November, the strongest monthly return since November 2020. (12/07/2023)

Key Factors: Lower expectations for interest rates, spurred by weaker inflation data, played a significant role in the resurgence.

Bond Market:

Rebound in Bonds: The Ishares Core Canadian Universe Bond Index ETF saw a 3.00% gain over the month, moving out of the red and up 1.50% YTD. (12/07/2023)

Equities Outlook and Key Considerations:

Robust Rebound in Markets: Favorable interest rate outlooks and signs of economic resilience drove the rebound in stock and bond markets in November 2023.

Outlook for 2024: Cautiously optimistic for global equities, with U.S. equities expected to outperform. The first half may be challenging, but the second half could see stronger performance.

Portfolio Strategies: Continued use of option strategies in portfolios for cash flow enhancement and tax-efficient income amid market uncertainty.

Bond Outlook:

Strategy for Bond Holdings: A conservative approach is favored, holding shorter to medium-term bonds amidst interest rate uncertainty, offering predictable returns and flexibility.

Adjusting to Interest Rate Changes: Plans are to increase the average duration of bonds if a decrease in interest rates becomes more likely, with longer-duration bonds offering steady income in a more stable economic environment.

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