There’s oil in your wallet

May 2016

The price of oil per barrel and the price at the pump dominate the news and are complicated by machinations with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and international diplomacy, as well as concerns about the environmental impact of drilling. Oil is so pervasive in our economy that it impacts us all in the markets – far beyond the price per barrel. So we asked our internal experts at our affiliate, Westwood Management Corp., Todd Williams, CFA – Senior Vice President […]

First Quarter Review: A Tale of Two Markets

April 2016

U.S. Equity

The S&P 500 ended the first quarter of 2016 with a slight gain after rallying in fourth quarter 2015. While the Index’s 1.35% return may seem modest, it was an impressive result in light of the fact that the Index logged its worst start to a year, ever. The year began with negative equity performance in January that flipped to a sharp move up in equities mid-February, continuing into March. The first half of the quarter was driven by accelerated depreciation in […]

Volatility: Where are the bright spots in this bumpy ride?

March 2016

Recent bouts of volatility have unnerved many investors. At Westwood we believe this is a return to more normal levels of volatility and is a healthy sign. Some investors will invariably decide the volatility is too much and it is time to stand on the sidelines. For those who are long-term investors, this presents a great opportunity to identify unique opportunities given the changing market environment. With that in mind, we interviewed two senior members of our investment team, Lisa Dong, CFA and […]

Fixed Income Relative Value: Tax-Exempt Municipals vs. Taxable Corporates

February 2016

Municipal (muni) bonds posted a 3.5% gain in 2015, which was the best performing sector within the investment grade bond market. Part of this strong return can be attributed to fewer bonds being available in the market. 2015 marked the fifth consecutive year where the municipal bond market decreased in size. According to data from Bloomberg, maturing and called bonds outweighed new bond issuance by approximately $15 billion in 2015. A shrinking muni market has pushed bond prices higher.

One of the most popular […]

Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Review

January 2016

Source: FactSet Research Systems, Inc.

Market Summary

The fourth quarter was pivotal as central bank divergence continued with monetary policy taking center stage. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) decided to raise interest rates 25 basis points (bps) while the European Central Bank (ECB) continued to lower interest rates further into negative territory. With global monetary policy diverging, we continued to see the U.S. Dollar strengthen further, oil prices fall further, and U.S. High Yield underperform:

Default risk increased in the energy sector impacting credit markets
Labor markets […]

2016 Capital Markets Outlook: Driving in a School Zone

December 2015

December always provides the opportunity to reflect on the year and to contemplate what the next year might hold. As we look toward the new year, we turned to Mark Freeman, Chief Investment Officer at Westwood, for insights on the economy and the possibilities, and risks, that 2016 may bring for investors.

Three possible scenarios

As they have done in the past, Mark and his team have laid out three potential scenarios for the economy and the markets in 2016.

Operative scenario:  Driving in a School […]

2015 Year-end Tax Planning: Seven Smart Steps

November 2015

As we quickly approach the end of another year, it is never too early to begin thinking about taxes.  As much as we all dread April 15th, below are seven smart steps you may be able to take to lower your tax bill; however, to take advantage of many of these strategies, you must act before December 31.

STEP 1:  Accelerate Deductible Expenses

If you itemize deductions, paying some deductible expenses early may produce a higher write-off for 2015. This generally makes sense if you […]

Third Quarter 2015 Market Review

October 2015

August Surprise: Equities

U.S. equity markets posted their worst quarterly loss since the third quarter of 2011, with the S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average declining 6.9% and 7.6%, respectively. Most of the weakness came in August, which was the worst month for U.S. equities since September 2011. This weakness followed a surprise Chinese currency devaluation that metastasized into a global sell-off, as fears grew that Chinese policymakers are seeing increasing headwinds to Chinese economic growth. Concerns over Chinese growth, in turn, […]