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February 2018 Market Letter


After a year or so of upward momentum and record highs, the domestic stock market, represented by the S&P 500, slipped almost 8% in the past week, the largest decline for the broad-market index since late 2016. This bout of volatility was the first real test of investors’ resolve in many months. In our many of years of experience, we’ve seen this happen time and again, but it can be difficult to get comfortable with some of the up and down cycles.

It’s normal to have concerns when volatility affects your portfolio. But this is why we emphasize the importance of a tailored financial plan, one that accounts for the occasional vagaries of the market, yet – over time – makes strides toward your long-term financial goals.

All investors will invariably see periods of weakness from time to time as we work toward those goals. But, we truly believe in disciplined, long-term planning, and that market pullbacks offer a chance to take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves during periodic declines.

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Investing involves risk, and investors may incur a profit or a loss. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the Research Department of Raymond James & Associates, Inc., and are subject to change. Past performance is not an indication of future results and there is no assurance that any of the forecasts mentioned will occur. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index of 30 widely held stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ National Stock Market. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) index is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of the international stock market. The Russell 2000 is an unmanaged index of small cap securities. The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. An investment cannot be made in these indexes. International investing involves additional risks such as currency fluctuations, differing financial accounting standards, and possible political and economic instability. These risks are greater in emerging markets. Small and mid-cap securities generally involve greater risks. Companies engaged in business related to a specific sector are subject to fierce competition and their products and services may be subject to rapid obsolescence. There are additional risks associated with investing in an individual sector, including limited diversification. The performance noted does not include fees or charges, which would reduce an investor’s returns. Asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee a profit nor protect against a loss. Debt securities are subject to credit risk. A downgrade in an issuer’s credit rating or other adverse news about an issuer can reduce the market value of that issuer’s securities. When interest rates rise, the market value of these bonds will decline, and vice versa. While interest on municipal bonds is generally exempt from federal income tax, it may be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax, state or local taxes.