Outlook 2017:  Gauging Market Milestones

Outlook 2017: Gauging Market Milestones

January 05, 2017
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In 2016, financial markets, the economy, and geopolitics experienced an unusual number of milestones. While markets are testing new directions, it’s easy to overemphasize change, putting a spotlight on uncertainty and playing up the worst case scenario. The way to assess the new dynamic is not to ask, “What’s broken?” or “What’s fixed?” but “How will businesses, markets, and the economy adapt?” Being prepared for 2017 is about gauging the milestones, understanding their significance, and responding without overreacting.

The LPL ResearchOutlook 2017: Gauging Market Milestones, contains financial market forecasts, economic insights, and investment guidance for the year ahead. Some of LPL Research’s expectations for the upcoming year include:

  • Accelerating U.S. economic growth*. LPL Research expects the U.S. economy—as measured by real gross domestic product—may grow modestly to near 2.5% in 2017, after spending most of the seven-plus years of the expansion averaging just over 2.1%. The potential growth lift is based upon expectations that rising business investment and fiscal stimulus may complement steady consumer spending. The details and timing of the passage of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals on taxes and infrastructure, and the speed of implementation will be important growth impact factors in 2017.

  • Mid-single-digit returns for the S&P 500**. LPL Research forecasts mid-single-digit returns for the S&P 500 in 2017, consistent with historical mid-to-late economic cycle performance. Gains will likely be driven by mid- to high-single-digit earnings growth and stable valuations (a stable price-to-earnings ratio of 18 – 19). In addition, LPL Research expects the current bull market to reach its eighth year. However, gains will likely come with increased volatility as the economic cycle ages further and interest rates may rise (bond prices fall), increasing borrowing costs and making bonds a more competitive alternative to stocks.
  • Limited bond return environment. LPL Research expects the 10-year Treasury yield to end 2017 in its current range of 2.25–2.75%, with a potential for 3%. Scenario analysis based on this potential interest rate range and the duration of the index indicates low- to mid-single-digit returns for the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index. The recent rate hike shows the Federal Reserve may start gradually normalizing interest rates in earnest. Importantly, rising interest rates, along with a pickup in the pace of economic growth and inflation, will limit return potential.

For additional insight, view the complete LPL Research Outlook 2017: Gauging Market Milestones.