Last year was very difficult for investors. The S&P 500 ended the year up 1.25 percent including dividends but that only tells a small part of the story when it comes to stocks.
The so-called “FANG stocks” — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — along with five others — Microsoft, Salesforce, eBay, Starbucks and Priceline — outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by more than 60 percent.
Take out just the FANG stocks and the S&P was down for the year. Take out the rest and it was a pretty lousy year.
A narrowing like this is not generally a positive sign. Older folks like me might remember the Nifty Fifty and how that ended in the early 1970s. That we’re down to the Nifty Nine probably isn’t particularly good news.
If you ventured outside of the cap-weighted S&P 500 or the FANGed Nasdaq, you lost money.
The mid-cap index was down 2.3 percent. The small cap Russell 2000 was down. The well-loved and over owned dividend ETF was down. The foreign developed market index — EAFE — was down. Emerging market stocks were down more than 15 percent. Brazil was down 40 percent. Canada is in a bear market.
The 7- to 10-year Treasury ETF was up just 1.5 percent while the long-term Treasury ETF lost money. TIPs were down. High yield got a lot of attention but was down just 5 percent.
Commodities? You don’t want to know.
There were a few stock markets up, most prominently Japan. Denmark was up more than 20 percent but who buys Denmark other than Danes? Same with Belgium. Ireland, the land of corporate inversions, was up 22 percent. Israel was up 7.8 percent but you can’t put a lot of your eggs in that volatile Middle Eastern basket.
What will 2016 bring? Well, heck, I don’t know the answer to that, and neither does anyone else.
But there are some interesting trends developing and I suspect there will be more money making opportunities this year than last. I’ll be writing about them — during the week — and I look forward to interacting with you all. So, good riddance to 2015 and welcome to 2016.
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