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Global Investment Outlook and Strategy

July 10, 2018

The MSCI World Index return was slightly negative and U.S. equities moved higher in June, supported by accelerating economic growth and improving corporate earnings. The U.S. outperformed most major regions of the world in the month as investors rotated into areas perceived to be less impacted from the threat of a global trade war and U.S.-centric, defensive, cyclically immune tech, and/or bond proxy stocks outperformed during the month as trade tensions intensified.  We believe trade concerns have produced attractive investment opportunities and remain optimistic that pragmatism will prevail before serious economic harm can occur. The current U.S. economic expansion remains underpinned by a virtuous cycle of improved confidence and spending. Real GDP growth is poised to rebound sharply to an annualized pace of about +3.5 percent in the second calendar quarter of 2018 from +2.0 percent in the first quarter, driven by gains in consumer spending, fixed investment, and private inventories as well as by a reversal in seasonal adjustment factor distortions. We continue to believe a “barbell” approach provides a balanced risk-reward profile for equity portfolios as the economy remains vulnerable to external shocks. We are also more positive on the energy sector (including refiners) due to spending discipline, increasing dividends, and stocks prices that reflect oil in the low $60/barrel range. Funds emphasizing longer duration bonds such as taxable and tax-exempt municipal securities performed particularly well, while funds with exposure to foreign bonds have lagged due to the relative strength of the dollar.

For more details, including a longer discussion on the possible threat of global asset bubbles, please see the complete Sit Investment Associates’ July 2018 Global Investment Outlook and Strategy paper. Click here: Global Outlook and Strategy (Adobe Acrobat).

Annual Gift Tax
Exemption Increases

After being stuck at $14,000 for a number of years, the gift tax exclusion amount increased $1,000 to $15,000 in 2018.  This means that an individual can now give any number of people $15,000 per year without incurring a gift tax.

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