Can small-cap outperformance continue?

Several drivers suggest that small caps may be able to continue their recent dominance over large caps

Nick KalivasTime to read: 3 min

Small caps have materially outperformed large caps in 2018, with the S&P SmallCap 600 Index outpacing the S&P 500 Index 7.80% to 2.58% between Dec. 29, 2017, and May 25, 2018.1 Below, I highlight the drivers of small-cap returns this year, and why I believe the trend could continue.

Tax cuts have benefited small caps. In the three years ending December 2017, the companies in the S&P SmallCap 600 Index had an average effective tax rate 4.3% higher than the S&P 500 Index.1 Investors looking for stocks that may experience improved profitability due to US tax reform have turned to the small-cap sector.

Trade tensions may favor small caps. 2018 has been a year of trade tensions, but

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Sector performance and economic cycles: When do sectors have the potential to shine?

Where we stand in the economic cycle can have a measurable effect on sector performance

Nick KalivasTime to read: 4 min

There are many determinants of stock performance. Corporate earnings, fiscal policy and interest rates can all influence the equity markets. But equity returns are also dependent on where we stand in the economic cycle.

Some sectors, such as industrials and financials, tend to display strong performance early in the economic cycle when economic growth is accelerating. Other sectors, like utilities and consumer staples, tend to be strongest very late in the economic cycle when economic growth is weakest.

How do we know this?

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Are you prepared for rising interest rates?

Defined maturity bond fund ETFs may provide a compelling option for a rising interest rate environment

Time to read: 3 min

Interest rates continue their upward trend. In March, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) hiked the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.5% to 1.75%, citing strength in the US labor market, a low unemployment rate and moderate economic growth.1 This was the sixth such rate increase since December 2015, and isn’t likely to be the last. With inflation nearing the Fed’s annual 2% target, members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) — the Fed’s policy-making arm — anticipate at least two more 0.25% increases in the federal funds rate by year-end.2

What’s in store for the yield curve?

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Regulatory changes put spotlight on bond pricing, disclosure

New rules require more transparency around corporate, agency and municipal bond markups

Time to read: 3 min

Effective May 14, 2018, new regulations will be adopted aimed at increasing the transparency of bond pricing. The new rules require dealers of corporate, municipal and agency bonds to clearly disclose bond markups and provide retail investors with relevant price comparisons.

Although this initiative was spearheaded by the Municipal Securities Regulatory Board (MSRB) to cover municipal bonds, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has been working in tandem with the MSRB on language that covers corporate and agency bonds as well. Ultimately, the two regulatory agencies came up with

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Artificial intelligence: What is it, and why are companies adopting it?

Predictive analytics is transforming large data sets into actionable items

Time to read: 3 min

Technology companies are known for innovation, and it doesn’t take long for a revolutionary new technology to take hold and become a part of people’s daily lives. In my view, investors shouldn’t be threatened by technology. Rather, they should be skeptical of companies not utilizing technology to its fullest potential.

One common theme we find when considering the largest companies within the Nasdaq-100 Index is the early embrace of artificial intelligence (AI). Even the chief executive officer of Alphabet (the parent company of Google) acknowledged the importance of artificial intelligence in the company’s first quarter 2016 earnings call.1 While not all companies

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How did factors perform during a roller coaster first quarter?

Growth, momentum factors prevail after a volatile start to the year

Nick KalivasTime to read: 5 min

Equities experienced heightened volatility during the first quarter of 2018, with the S&P 500 Index surging 7.55% from Dec. 31 2017, through Jan. 26, 2018, before dropping nearly 8% through quarter-end.1 Early in the quarter, market activity was buoyed by upward revisions to corporate profit outlooks following federal tax cuts in December, coupled with a squeeze on short volatility positions.

However, this momentum eased in the final two months of the quarter as investors became uneasy over a number of developments:

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