Fourth Quarter 2019 Recap01/06/2020


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U.S. stocks posted impressive gains in 2019, capping one of Wall Street’s strongest years of the decade with the S&P 500 notching a near-31.5% annual advance including dividends. That’s the second-largest percentage gain over the past decade. Since the beginning of 2010, the S&P 500 has surged nearly 190%, or over 256% including dividends. Optimism for a U.S.-China trade deal, dovish central bank rate policy, and an improving economic outlook fueled sharp gains. The year culminated with President Trump saying he will sign the phase one trade deal in the White House on January 15.

During the fourth quarter, all three major U.S. equity indices simultaneously surged to multiple new record-highs and the Nasdaq Composite briefly topped 9,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 had just two losing weeks in the fourth quarter. Moreover, the 2019 rally proved to be among the smoothest bullish rides in history. For the year, the S&P 500 registered 149 positive trading days, the sixth highest number in any year dating back to 1929. The VIX, an index that measures investors’ uncertainty, ended the quarter down over 15% and retreated nearly 46% from a year ago.


  • The S&P 500 capped its best year since 2013, extending the longest bull market in history. The S&P 500 also posted its best December gain since 2010.
  • Powered by tech stocks, the Nasdaq Composite also had its strongest annual gain in six years, up 36.69%. The Dow Industrials gained the most since 2017, up 25.34%.
  • Risk-on buying prevailed into high-yield corporate bonds, outperforming their investment-grade fixed-income counterparts.
  • Gold and silver rallied the most since 2010, finishing the year at $1,517/oz. and $17.85/oz., respectively.
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The Quarterly Recap is published by Cetera Investment Management LLC, an SEC registered adviser owned by Cetera Financial Group. Cetera Investment Management provides market perspectives, portfolio guidance, model management, and other investment advice to its affiliated broker-dealers, dually registered broker-dealers and registered investment advisers.

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