2024 commenced with optimism fueled by expectations that the Federal Reserve would initiate rate cuts early in the year. The market anticipated the Fed would implement at least five rate cuts throughout the year, with the Fed signalling three cuts of 25 basis points each. However, with the release of the December 2023 Consumer Price Index figures last month, it became evident that the concluding phase of the battle against inflation would be the most challenging.
Buying interest persisted in the stock market in January, driven by a combination of factors. Firstly, optimism regarding the use case of AI for businesses regarding efficiency and productivity. Secondly, the anticipated rate cut by the Fed in March signalled the conclusion of its rate hike cycle. Lastly, better-than-expected Q4 2023 corporate earnings and improved guidance for 2024.
In the fixed income market, traders remained unfazed as they secured yields in anticipation of the Fed’s expected rate cuts. Treasury yields held steady last month as investors contemplated the potential future of monetary policy, particularly in the context of possible interest rate cuts.
In the real estate market, home values remained stable even as mortgage rates continued to rise in line with high rates. Mortgage rates averaged 7.01% in January 2024, attributed to a shortage of housing supply, with inventories in the US persistently tight.
Let’s now delve into the performance of our asset classes and outline our outlook for the remainder of the year.
Asset Classes Overview
The S&P 500 was up 1.7% in January 2024. Our Rise Equity portfolio outperformed the broader market, closing the month up 5.58%. Our Rise Equity portfolio soared last month, buoyed by rallies in Fortinet, Meta Platforms and ASML Holdings.
One of the top headlines from 2023 was the outperformance of the “Magnificent Seven” mega-cap stocks: Alphabet (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Meta Platforms (META), Microsoft (MSFT), NVIDIA (NVDA), and Tesla (TSLA). In 2024, these seven mega-cap stocks sustained their momentum, with the exception of Tesla Inc.
Our outlook for the stock remains positive for the remainder of the year. Our upside case suggests that the stock market will continue its 2023 rally into 2024, buoyed by tech related stocks. In February, we expect big-tech blockbuster earnings to extend the rally. Also, with improved earnings guidance from companies, we see continuing buy interest in the stock market. In our thesis, we see the stock market is still one of the best wealth creating opportunities in 2024. The strategy remains centred on investing in fundamentally sound companies and riding the upward momentum.
Our Rise Real Estate portfolio returned 0.78% in rental income for January 2024. Returns for the real estate plan fluctuate based on the overall performance of the underlying assets. While we typically strive for consistent returns, January’s performance fell short of what we have done historically. We expect our real estate returns to return to its historical levels and beyond by February.
In the broader real estate market, Commercial real estate has been on the struggle bus since the pandemic hit in 2020, and now it’s taking regional banks along for the ride. New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) shares have been struggling after the bank said it’s dealing with surging losses from office buildings and multifamily apartment buildings. It’s a sign that commercial real estate (CRE) lenders are reckoning with the fact that they might not get their money back as commercial landlords struggle with high vacancies and interest rates.
In the real estate market, home values remained stable even as mortgage rates continued to rise in line with high rates. Mortgage rates averaged 7.01% in January 2024, attributed to a shortage of housing supply, with inventories in the US persistently tight. Looking ahead, we anticipate that our real estate portfolio will continue to deliver favourable returns to our investors. This expectation is driven by the combination of high mortgage rates and a tight inventory in the US. Real estate investment remains a lucrative opportunity for investors, and our real estate asset class is positioned to offer stable and consistent cash flow.
At Rise, our fixed-income investments generated a return of 0.83% for November 2023. This performance underscores the resilience and stability of our fixed-income strategy.
Treasury yields had an uneventful start to the year as longer-term treasuries posted slight increases. The 30-year rose 19 basis points to 4.22%, the most of any duration. Treasury yields have risen steadily for almost two years, as investors kept anticipating that Jerome Powell would raise interest rates to combat persistent inflation. The most important question facing investors this year is when the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. Bond traders and investors are looking to lock yield ahead of the increasingly anticipated rate cut in March 2024.
Through diversification and a keen eye for opportunities, we expect our fixed portfolio to continue to provide better and steady returns to our investors. At Rise, we are committed to helping you achieve your financial goals through thorough analysis and careful selection of investment opportunities. So remember to stay invested.