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For the first time since 2008, the stock market (as measured by the S&P 500) finished in the red last year. That statement in and of itself is pretty amazing. The fact that we went nine years in row without a down year is impressive. But let’s take a deeper dive into what happened in 2018.

With all the volatility and dramatic headlines, it’s important to know that the S&P 500 was only down 4.38%* for the year. It definitely felt worse than that as the index lost a whopping 13.52% in just the last quarter. Remarkably, the market experienced 64 days when it closed higher or lower by 1% or more^. That’s 25% of all the trading days! Compare this to only eight of those days in 2017. Interestingly, the lack of volatility in 2017 was more unusual than the volatility in 2018.

The year was marked by extremes. By January 26th, the market was already up 7.45%** year to date. Fueled by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which promised lower tax rates and huge repatriations of foreign profits by our multi-national corporations. A mere nine trading days later, the S&P 500 had dropped 10.16%** as wage inflation hit 2.9% and introduced the fear of rampant inflation. Continued talk of tariffs and a trade war with China kept the markets choppy throughout the year. But, by September 20th, the S&P 500 hit a new all-time closing high of 2,930.75. Then the bottom seemed to drop out. The market spent…

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