Investment Review – January 2020

January 17, 2020 Investment Review

  1. In stark contrast to the December decline one year ago, the S&P 500 returned 3.02% for the month, closing 2019’s total return up 31.49%.

  2. Consumer spending was robust during the Holiday season. MasterCard Spending Pulse, which tracks consumer-spending tendencies, saw an increase of 3.4% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24th. This is an impressive pickup, as 2018 saw the best growth in purchases over six years prior.

  3. The past decade has seen tremendous prosperity, in particular for U.S. investors. Valuations were depressed to begin the decade given the credit crisis of 2008, which provided a low bar to hurdle. Corporate profitability has improved vastly, mainly through deflationary cost improvements such as technological advances across industries and globalization of supply chain and labor forces, driving earnings higher. In addition, innovation, low interest rates, and a strong consumer has buoyed sales. The combination of increased sales and higher profit provided the backdrop for a historic decade, and provides the resilience we continue to see in this market environment.

key investment statistics

Sources: Bloomberg LLCFactSet, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve Bank, Empirical Research Partners

Disclosure: This commentary reflects the opinions of Welch & Forbes based on information that we believe to be reliable. It is intended for informational purposes only, and not to suggest any specific performance or results, nor should it be considered investment, financial, tax or other professional advice. It is not an offer or solicitation.

If you would like to receive your copy of the Economic Outlook and Investment Review monthly in the mail, call Ed Sullivan, Vice President, at 617-557-9800, or email him at

Make sure to bookmark our Perspectives webpage so you can stay up to date with the most recent weekly Welch & Forbes insights, announcements, and content. To receive our monthly email digest, simply enter your email address in the banner on this page.

Access your complimentary Wealth Planning Suite

wealth planning suite

Includes your Initial Consultation Portfolio X-Ray© Estate Plan Review Financial Plan

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

*There is no fee for the Initial Consultation or Portfolio X-Ray© for prospective clients. Portfolio X-Ray© is a Morningstar product that Welch & Forbes maintains a license for its use. The Estate Plan Review and Financial Plan are provided only to clients.