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2018 Market Outlook: Global Stocks and Economy

Key Points
  • Broad growth: Global economic growth is the broadest in a decade.

  • Growth trumps politics: Broad growth tends to leave stocks less vulnerable to risks.

  • Inflated risk: If inflation fails to revive in 2018, movements by central banks may be too aggressive.

Broadest growth in a decade 

The exceptional string of month after month gains in 2017 for global stocks raises a concern: Have investors become too optimistic about growth? We don’t think so. Global economic growth is also exceptional.

Every one of the world’s 45 major economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is growing this year and expected to post another year of growth in 2018, per OECD forecasts. It has been a decade since the lift to the world economy was this broad.

While risks from politics, central bank policies and military threats haven’t gone away, investors have recognized that the global economy isn’t as vulnerable to these influences as it was during the prior decade. Like a giant cluster of balloons, one or two could fail and the world’s economy would remain aloft for 2018.

Every major country is helping to lift global growth

2018 Global Market Outlook


Best diversification in two decades 

Our view is that a global recession is not on the horizon in the next 12 months, based on historically reliable leading indicators including the yield curve. Global stocks (MSCI World Index) have posted double-digit gains, on average, in the year before the yield curve signals a recession. However, the intermediate-term risk of a recession and bear market means rebalancing portfolios is important.

Global economic growth lifting earnings is likely to be a key positive for stocks in 2018. But if central banks move too aggressively in anticipation of inflation, their actions could undermine the bull market.

The return to the lowest average correlation across stock markets seen in 20 years implies globally diversified investors may benefit from less volatility without sacrificing return on the path to their financial goals—in essence decreasing risk without decreasing return.


  • Rebalance: The increasing risk of recession and bear market beyond 2018 make portfolio rebalancing important.
  • Go global: The risk-reducing advantages of broad global diversification may offer the most benefit in 20 years.
  • Stay invested: Global stocks have produced double-digit returns before leading indicators signal a recession.
2018 Market Outlook: U.S. Stocks and Economy
2018 Market Outlook: Fixed Income

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes, may be based upon proprietary research and are developed
through analysis of historical public data.

The information here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The type of securities and investment strategies mentioned may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review a security transaction for his or her own particular situation.

Data here is obtained from what are considered reliable sources; however, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed. Supporting documentation for any claims or statistical information is available upon request.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market, economic or geopolitical conditions.

Specific names/titles are for illustrative purposes only.

Indices are unmanaged; do not incur management fees, costs, or expenses; and cannot be invested in directly.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed-income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

While the market value of a floating rate note is relatively insensitive to changes in interest rates, the income received is highly dependent upon the level of the reference rate over the life of the investment. Total return may be less than anticipated if future interest rate expectations are not met.

International investments involve additional risks, which include differences in financial accounting standards, currency fluctuations, geopolitical risk, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks.

Tax-exempt bonds are not necessarily a suitable investment for all persons. Information related to a security’s tax-exempt status (federal and in-state) is obtained from third-parties and Schwab does not guarantee its accuracy. Tax-exempt income may be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Capital appreciation from bond funds and discounted bonds may be subject to state or local taxes. Capital gains are not exempt from federal income tax.

High-yield bonds and lower rated securities are subject to greater credit risk, default risk, and liquidity risk.

Diversification, automatic investing and rebalancing strategies do not ensure a profit and do not protect against losses in declining markets.

Index and Term Definitions

S&P 500® Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks from a broad range of industries. The component stocks are weighted according to the total market value of their outstanding shares.

The MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) captures large and mid-cap representation across 23 Developed Markets (DM) and 23 Emerging Markets (EM) countries. With 2,484 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the global investable equity opportunity set.

The Nikkei-225 Stock Average is a price-weighted average of 225 top-rated Japanese companies listed in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index covers the U.S. dollar (USD)-denominated investment-grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. Securities are included if rated investment-grade (Baa3/BBB-/BBB-) or higher using the middle rating of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch ratings services. This index is part of the

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (Agg). The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate 1-5 Year Bond Index is part of the Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High-Yield Bond Index covers the USD-denominated, non-investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. Securities are classified as high-yield if the middle rating of Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P is Ba1/BB+/BB+ or below.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Floating-Rate Notes Index measures the performance of investment-grade floating-rate notes across corporate and government-related sectors.

The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index provides a broad-based measure of the global investment-grade fixed-rate debt markets. The three major components of this index are the U.S. Aggregate, the Pan-European Aggregate, and the Asian-Pacific Aggregate Indices. The Global Aggregate Bond Index ex US excludes the U.S. Aggregate component.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate High-Yield Bond Index covers the USD-denominated, non-investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. Securities are classified as high-yield if the middle rating of Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P is Ba1/BB+/BB+ or below.

The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Corporate Bond Index covers the USD-denominated investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable, corporate bond market. Securities are included if rated investment-grade (Baa3/BBB-/BBB) or higher using the middle rating of Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch. This index is part of the U.S. Aggregate.

The Bloomberg Barclays EM USD Aggregate Index includes USD-denominated debt from emerging markets in the following regions: Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia. As with other fixed income benchmarks provided by Barclays, the index is rules-based, allowing for an unbiased view of the marketplace and easy replicability.

The BofA Merrill Lynch Fixed Rate Preferred Securities Index tracks the performance of fixed-rate U.S. dollar (USD)-denominated preferred securities issued in the U.S. domestic market.


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