Investment Themes for This Year

In the investment community, all eyes are on inflation this year. Economic analysts at Merrill Lynch anticipate further tightening in the labor market, to the tune of 3.9 percent unemployment by the end of 2018. Along with the tightened labor situation, they also expect personal consumption expenditure (PCE) inflation rising to 1.8 percent by year-end and 2.0 percent by the end of 2019.1

As of this writing, inflation is at 1.7 percent. There is speculation that new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell may be open to inflation flowing as high as 2.5 percent before making any dramatic moves in interest rates, in an effort to extend the more than eight-year expansion in U.S. growth.2

It’s been a very good run for U.S. investors, but there are indicators that we could see more volatility this year. As such, individuals approaching retirement may want to consider ways to help reduce the impact of market volatility on their retirement assets. We’re happy to review your current situation and recommend strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products to help you pursue your long-term goals; just give us a call.

Below are some investment trends we see for 2018:

Value Stocks
Growth stocks have been outperforming value stocks for quite some time, but it looks as if that could change. Stocks that are considered undervalued have high relative dividend yields, low price-to-book ratios and/or low price-to-earnings ratios. These stocks offer the opportunity to thrive in a somewhat volatile market.3

Much like their baby boomer parents, millennials are expected to drive innovation and previously under-explored markets in the future. As a demographic, they are tech-savvy, environmentally aware and focused on sustainability, clean energy and impact investing. Perhaps more significantly, this generation is projected to inherit nearly $4 trillion in the United Kingdom and North America alone, which means they may have the means to act on their well-cultivated interests and passions.4

Transportation continues to be an issue in America, and we could be looking at a future ripe with automated cars, buses and other vehicles that do not require drivers. Public agencies may do well to focus on long-term city development plans that can accommodate driverless cars and other innovations.5

You may think that Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods has heralded a new era of buying groceries online. However, it’s a trend that has been going on for years, driven by investment by brick-and-mortar retailers, with online grocery shopper numbers more than doubling in a little over a year. According to recent research from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen, almost 50 percent of Americans purchased groceries online in the past three months. The trend, however, is dominated by younger adults: millennials at 61 percent and generation X at 55 percent. FMI and Nielsen predict that many as 70 percent of U.S. shoppers could be buying groceries online by 2022.6

1 Michelle Meyer. Merrill Lynch. Nov. 19, 2017. “Investing Insights for the Year Ahead/Interest Rates, Policy and the Search for Missing Inflation.” Accessed March 1, 2018.
2 Rich Miller and Shelly Hagan. Bloomberg. Feb. 26, 2018. “Powell Could Put Up With 2.5% Inflation to Keep Growth Pumping.” Accessed March 1, 2018.
3 Kevin Mahn. Forbes. Jan. 5, 2017. “Top 10 Investment Themes For 2018.” Accessed March 1, 2018.
4 Alice Ross and Hugo Greenhalgh. Financial Times. Nov. 17, 2017. “$4tn wealth transfer sparks battle for kids of the rich.” Accessed March 1, 2018.
5 Daniel Terdiman and Mark Sullivan. FastCompany. Jan. 2, 2018. “The Most Important Tech Trends Of 2018, According to Top VC.” Accessed March 1, 2018.
6 Deborah Weinswig. Forbes. March 1, 2018. “Online Grocery Set to Boom in 2018 (As Amazon Acknowledges Online Grocery A Tough Market to Crack).” Accessed March 1, 2018.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications
We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies and should not be construed as financial advice. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.