News & Insights

Market Report – January 2024

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The new year kicked off with several unforeseen events spanning global logistics, sports, and financial markets which have captured public attention. Notably, the Detroit Lions’ unexpected journey to the NFC Championship game in the NFL, completing an impressive regular-season performance, took many by surprise. This unexpected success stirred significant enthusiasm, particularly from people surrounding this Midwestern firm’s roots. However, beyond the realm of sports and to the point of business, the US economy continued its robust expansion, with another strong fourth quarter performance in 2023 driven by resilient consumer activity. Concurrently, the broader US stock market surged to reclaim its all-time high, relegating memories of the 2023 tech stock downturn to the background of investors’ minds.

January also witnessed a significant shift in financial regulatory dynamics. After a protracted legal battle that commenced in 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally greenlit the first-ever exchange-traded product backed by Bitcoin for public exchanges. This decision came after a District of Columbia appellate court held that the SEC failed to provide adequate reasons to reject prior filings for Bitcoin-backed products. However, while the approval marked a regulatory milestone, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler was quick to caution against interpreting it as an endorsement of Bitcoin’s speculative nature or its potential for facilitating illicit activities. Moreover, Chairman Gensler publicly stated that this decision does not set a precedent for approving similar products for non-Bitcoin digital currencies. Nonetheless, the SEC anticipates that allowing Bitcoin-linked products in regulated financial markets will enhance accountability and level the playing field for market participants. The spot price of Bitcoin experienced a mild decline following the wake of this news but has since recaptured those losses.

Meanwhile, a global event unfolded, disrupting shipping routes in and out of the Red Sea. The Houthis, a political and military group, initiated attacks on commercial vessels traversing the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Given that six to eight percent of global trade and about thirty percent of global container traffic passes through this strategic waterway, the attacks adversely impacted shipping rates, leading vessels to reroute around South Africa. This development poses significant economic and humanitarian risks, highlighting the urgent need for resolution. Even though higher shipping rates pose inflation problems, it may not be as great of a threat as it might originally seem, as many developed economies have substituted durable goods demand for services.


“The new year kicked off with several unforeseen events spanning global logistics, sports, and financial markets which have captured public attention.”


Despite all of these unforeseen events, inflation data for December aligned closely with consensus forecasts. This prompted swift reactions in interest rate futures markets. Initially, there was a surge in expectations that the Federal Reserve (Fed) would commence a rate-cutting cycle in March. However, as the month progressed, these expectations dwindled amidst indications that non-US central banks would leave benchmark interest rates unchanged. For a brief moment, portions of the yield curve began to flatten as short-term rates, particularly the two-year rate, lessened to approach thirty and ten-year rates. However, short-term rates regained altitude after Chairman Powell, speaking on behalf of the Fed’s open market committee, tempered expectations by signaling that short-term rates wouldn’t decline until the committee gained greater confidence that it was closer to the two-percent inflation target.

In reflecting on these events, football fans and market investors appear to have more in common than they might otherwise realize. Both face uncertainty and must navigate the unknown, relying on strategic planning and creative action at the beginning of a new season or when making a new investment. Without uncertainty, everything would look like a risk-free rate, and the world might appear less interesting, providing no incentive for competition or intelligible resource allocations that would greatly set societies back. However, unlike a sports betting house, most investment markets offer opportunities for prosperity within the framework of free-market economics, underscoring the resilience and adaptability of a strong financial plan in place. A great coach would never show up without a game plan. Likewise, investors wouldn’t want to risk everything without considering the details and constructing a financial plan.


Monthly -0.81% -2.05% 0.23% -0.85% -4.15% 0.71%
Year to Date -0.81% -2.05% 0.23% -0.85% -4.15% 0.71%



US Stocks experienced a mild setback in January, yet this was seemingly unnoticed following December’s incredible performance. Still, broad category performance in January ended with mixed results. The category representing US large-caps advanced 1.33% during January, while categories of small and mid-caps declined. The mid-cap category produced a -1.00% total return; small-caps ended last month with a -2.76% loss.



Foreign Stocks experienced a mild average loss of -2.05% throughout the category averages. Developed foreign stocks were the least impacted by last month’s decline. The developed category’s average drawdown was -0.74% in January. In addition, losses in small and mid-international stocks were a minor -1.91% by the end of last month. Emerging markets, unfortunately, experienced greater pain, setting investors back -3.51% by month end.



US Bonds were relatively flat and stable during January. Government bond losses were only -0.14% for its category average return. Every other major class of bonds performed quite well. The bank loan category average performed well, with a 0.62% return for January. The high-yield bond category average was another bright spot, having a 0.22% return. Something of interest was the 0.41% return created by the inflation-protected category.



Foreign Bonds declined in January as demand shored up. The global bond category average, including bonds issued from countries worldwide, lost -1.26% by the end of last month. Bonds issued by emerging market governments and corporations did not perform as poorly as foreign issuers in developed economies. The emerging market category average only lost -0.45% in January. On average, the broad losses of global bonds were -0.85%.



Hard Assets experienced the largest declines in investor portfolios in January. The average loss among the various categories was -4.15%, weighed down by precious metal and global real estate returns. Prices representing the precious metals category average dropped -9.00% last month. Real estate categories also performed badly, losing close to -4.30%. The energy category average was comparatively resilient with a monthly return of 0.92%.



Hybrids experienced mixed returns in January but ended with a positive return of 0.71% when viewing the convertible bonds and preferred stocks together. Convertible bonds experienced mild losses of -0.72% in January. Investors witnessed strength in the preferred stock sector. The preferred stock sector advanced 2.14% last month, making it one of January’s better performing asset categories throughout the broader market.


Contact Michael Nordmann, CFP®, Principal, Director, Chief Wealth Officer, at, or by calling us directly at 517-323-7500 for more information.

Investment advisory services offered through Maner Wealth, a State of Michigan Registered Investment Advisor. Subadvisory services offered through Advisory Alpha LLC, a SEC registered investment advisor.
© Advisory Alpha. Registration with the SEC or state does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by regulators, nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability. This content is for informational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for sale or purchase of any securities. Investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy, such as asset allocation or diversification, can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. All investment strategies involve risk and have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals, and economic conditions may materially affect the performance of your portfolio. There are no assurances that a portfolio will match or outperform any particular benchmark. The performance information presented in the asset category section of this report is based on equal-weighted averages of the following Morningstar Categories: US Stocks (US Fund Large Blend, US Fund Mid-Cap Blend, US Fund Small-Blend), Foreign Stocks (US Fund Foreign Large Blend, US Fund Foreign Small/Mid Blend, US Fund Diversified Emerging Mkts), US Bonds (US Fund Intermediate Government, US Fund Inflation-Protected Bond, US Fund Corporate Bond, US Fund High Yield Bond, US Fund Bank Loan), Foreign Bonds (US Fund World Bond, US Fund Emerging Markets Bond), Hard Assets (US Fund Commodities Precious Metals, US Fund Commodities Energy, US Fund Global Real Estate, US Fund Real Estate), Hybrid Assets (US Fund Convertibles, US Fund Preferred Stock). © 2023 Morningstar. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Morningstar category data is provided for illustrative purposes only to demonstrate a hypothetical investment vehicle represented by a group of similar investments. Morningstar category data is an aggregation across actual funds contained in the category, but it is not possible to directly invest in a category. Index returns are provided for illustrative purposes only to demonstrate a hypothetical investment vehicle using broad-based indices of securities. Unmanaged indices are not available for direct investment. All data shown does not include internal fund expenses, trading costs, financial advisor fees or commissions, or taxes. This information is not intended to predict the performance of any specific investment or security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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