Vail Daily column: 2012 outlook: Migrating from the extremes
Over the last four years, the market declined in excess of 2 percent in a single day around 100 times, more than any other four-year period since the S&P 500 Index’s formation in 1957. On the flip-side, the market also recorded a 2 percent or greater gain in a single day more than any other four-year period. While the last few years have been highlighted with record swings in market returns and widely oscillating economic data, we expect 2012 will be less about the fringes and more about the middle. While moving away from the drastic extremes will be a welcome environment for whipsawed investors, the center offers its own distinct challenges and opportunities. In 2012, finding a middle ground is going to be key for growth in the markets and economy. We believe that:• Soft sentiment and hard data find middle ground. We expect the U.S. economy to grow about 2 percent, while emerging markets post stronger growth and Europe experiences a mild recession. U.S. gross domestic product is likely to produce below-average growth of about 2 percent in 2012, supported by solid business spending and modest, but stable, consumer spending. • Stocks are supported by a converging outlook for earnings growth. The U.S. stock market is likely to post a high single-digit to low double-digit gain, supported by earnings growth and a boost from a slight improvement in valuations as the pessimistic outlook for profits reflected in the markets rise to converge with a slide in the lofty expectations for earnings projected by Wall Street analysts. • The government and corporate bond yield gap narrows. The performance gap between government and corporate bonds reverses in 2012 with corporate bonds outperforming as they post modest single-digit gains as interest rates rise and credit spreads narrow. Bond yields may be volatile, but we expect them to rise over the course of the year, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury ending the year around 3 percent. • Major policy-driven events will converge on the financial markets in 2012. We believe a mild recession emerges in Europe and the debt dilemma continues to grab headlines and move markets as will the outlook for growth and financial stress in China. In addition, the 2012 elections are likely to hold major consequences for investors. The party that emerges in control following the November 2012 elections will forge the decisions that will represent one of the biggest shifts in the federal budget policy since World War II. Consumer sentiment, business leaders, policymakers and geopolitics are going to have a significant impact on the investment environment in 2012. While volatility is likely to remain elevated, the market and its economic backdrop may begin to migrate from the extremes toward a more normalized period where investor sentiment, economic activity and the market’s direction start to move increasingly in alignment. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult me prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.Past performance is no guarantee of future results.This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial. Tracy Tutag, CFP, CDFA and Stuart Green, CFP, MBA are principals of the Aprisent Financial Group, which offers securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.