February Market Recap & Commentary

Richard Cull

Posted on 03/04/2024

by Richard Cull

February Market Recap & Commentary


The month of February saw positive returns for equities and negative returns for bonds, real estate and commodities. As has been the case for the last couple of years, large cap tech stocks again led the way, carrying the S&P 500 and NASDAQ indexes meaningfully higher.

These two indexes are hitting all-time highs and continue a historic one-direction  streak that started in late October. According to research from Deutsche Bank, the S&P 500 has now risen for 16 of the last 18 weeks for the first time since 1971.

While the buzz around artificial intelligence (A.I.) is responsible for some of the markets euphoria, the main underpinnings of this market are the six variables that are currently in the “Goldilocks” zone; 1) falling inflation, 2) low unemployment, 3) sustained consumer spending, 4) Fed rate cuts (lower interest rates), 5) a growing economy, and 6) meaningful earnings growth (> +10%).

Of those, the timing of the Fed rate cuts is the most uncertain. The anticipated first cut (pivot), has been pushed back from March to mid-summer. Market pundits are calling this “higher for longer” and is behind the negative returns for bonds so far in 2024.

The other key variable is consumer spending. Despite the weak economic data over the last two years including Leading Indicators, Purchasing Managers Index, inverted yield curve, etc., the consumer continued to spend which led to positive economic growth.

As we get further away from $2.1 trillion excess savings amassed during the pandemic, many are speculating those funds are almost depleted (citing record credit card debt) and the consumer will have to pull back.

We feel forecasting consumer behavior is like forecasting the weather…it’s the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t.

Risk Numbers

The Risk Number is at the heart of a sophisticated set of tools to precisely measure the appetite and capacity for risk that each client has, and demonstrate their alignment with the portfolios built for them. The following graphic shows the risk of various asset classes as measured on a scale of 1-99 (1 being the most conservative and 99 being the most aggressive) as of the date above.

CENTRIC’S Approach

We start with a Risk Number, a measurable way to pinpoint how much risk you want, need, and already have. Then, your wealth advisor will optimally allocate our investments to help you reach your financial goals. Along the way, you will receive transparency of information, seamless proactive service and the trust and accountability you need to stay on track. All of this will lead to your personal comprehensive investment strategy that is powerful, disciplined, responsive. 

Centric’s Market Assumption Disclosures: This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or product or as a promise of future performance. Note that these asset class assumptions are passive, and do not consider the impact of active management. All estimates in this document are in US dollar terms unless noted otherwise. Given the complex risk-reward trade-offs involved, we advise clients to rely on their own judgment as well as quantitative optimization approaches in setting strategic allocations to all the asset classes and strategies. References to future returns are not promises or even estimates of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Assumptions, opinions and estimates are provided for illustrative purposes only. They should not be relied upon as recommendations to buy or sell securities. Forecasts of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. We believe the information provided here is reliable, but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. If the reader chooses to rely on the information, it is at its own risk. This material has been prepared for information purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal, or tax advice. The outputs of the assumptions are provided for illustration purposes only and are subject to significant limitations. “Expected” return estimates are subject to uncertainty and error. Expected returns for each asset class can be conditional on economic scenarios; in the event a particular scenario comes to pass, actual returns could be significantly higher or lower than forecasted. Because of the inherent limitations of all models, potential investors should not rely exclusively on the model when making an investment decision. The model cannot account for the impact that economic, market, and other factors may have on the implementation and ongoing management of an actual investment portfolio. Unlike actual portfolio outcomes, the model outcomes do not reflect actual trading, liquidity constraints, fees, expenses, taxes and other factors that could impact future returns. Asset allocation/diversification does not guarantee investment returns and does not eliminate the risk of loss.

Index Disclosures: Index returns are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent any actual fund performance. Index performance returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs or expenses. Indices are unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index.

Riskalyze Disclosure: The Risk Number® is a proprietary scaled index developed by Riskalyze to reflect risk for both advisors and their clients. The Risk Number is at the heart of a sophisticated set of tools to precisely measure the appetite and capacity for risk that each client has, and demonstrate their alignment with the portfolios built for them.

Shaped like a speed limit sign, the Risk Number gives advisors and investors a common language to use when setting expectations, recognizing risk and making portfolio selections. Just like driving faster increases hazards, a higher Risk Number equates with higher levels of risk.

General disclosure:  This material is intended for information purposes only, and does not constitute investment advice, a recommendation or an offer or solicitation to purchase or sell any securities to any person in any jurisdiction in which an offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Investing involves risks.

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