After a blockbuster start to 2018, equity markets have been caught in a vicious circle of trading over the quarter’s last two months, with volatility and uncertainty taking center stage. While a combination of factors like solid earnings, upbeat economic data and new tax legislation have fueled some rallies, inflation fears, protectionist and anti-trade Trump policies, Washington turmoil and faster-than-expected interest rate hikes continue to weigh on equity market returns.
The year started out strong for equities, however, by quarter’s-end the elongated period of rising share prices and low volatility finally ended. For the quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a quarterly decline of more than 2.3%, snapping the longest streak of quarterly gains for the blue-chip average since an 11-quarter rally that ended in the third quarter of 1997. The S&P 500 index ended the quarter with a 1.2% quarterly fall, ending its long winning stretch that started in 2015.
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