“The stock market will return to an annual gain in 2019 after a nine-year bull market halted in 2018 due to concerns over global economic conditions, trade relations and rising interest rates. We expect economic growth to slow – internationally and domestically – in 2019, with U.S. real GDP growth in a respectable 2-3 percent range, keeping inflation and further interest rate hikes at bay. Positives include healthy consumer spending, low unemployment and a strong labor market. We do not anticipate a recession and believe the U.S. stock market can produce a double-digit percentage increase.” — Jeffrey S. Thomison, Vice President, Senior Equity Manager and Strategist, Community Trust Wealth & Trust Management
“Demand for wealth management services will be strong for the foreseeable future, due largely to demographic and structural changes in society. As baby-boomer business owners continue to retire, sales of private businesses mean the corresponding need to re-invest wealth. Younger generations will inherit wealth and focus on their own retirement and financial planning needs. Pressure on the Social Security system from an aging population and the ongoing shift from employer-provided pensions to defined-contribution plans that require employee planning and participation also will drive demand for wealth management services. Clients are looking for comprehensive and goal-oriented guidance delivered in a professional, personal and unbiased manner, which is what Dean Dorton Wealth Management is all about.” — David Parks, Senior Wealth Advisor, Dean Dorton Wealth Management
“The U.S. economy will continue growing this year, but at a more measured pace. Tariffs on imported raw materials and tight labor markets are pressuring corporate profit margins, which could limit equity returns. After raising interest rates four times, the Fed appears finished unless economic conditions start to overheat. Those rate hikes have helped savers, who are earning higher interest on their money. Fixed-income yields should stay range bound if the Fed stands pat as expected. Risks to continued economic expansion include failure to resolve the trade spat with China, an overly-aggressive Fed and increased borrowing costs.” — Chad Sturgill, Senior Portfolio Manager, Unified Trust Co.
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“Contrary to popular belief, the stock market is a leading indicator of the economy. Clearly the late 2018 sell-off indicates something. Seasonal data is very clear that stocks’ best quarter of the year is the fourth, but one must go back to 1931 to find a worse December. With the Federal Reserve raising short-term rates, an unresolved trade war with China and a government shutdown, markets appear to anticipate economic fall-out in 2019 or beyond. Growth still exists but has slowed markedly, and the economy is decelerating. Like a large ship, changes and inputs take a long time to show up – it takes several quarters of data for causal changes to become noticeable. The Fed’s interest rate hikes and tightening cycle may be close to an end, if not over; resolution of trade disputes with China would be great for worldwide growth long-term and a big short-term boost to the stock market. But it is growing late in the cycle and we will watch the markets to tell us what to expect next.” — John Cheshire, Chief Investment Officer, Asio Capital
“With interest rate increases on a seeming hold, wealth managers are poised for a good year. Markets had a difficult 2018 globally, and seem poised for a calmer 2019. Global events are always unpredictable and issues such as Brexit can play havoc with forecasts, but a mild global slowdown appears underway, with the United States being an outlier in its 10th year of recovery from the Great Recession. But bull markets don’t die of old age, so the U.S. markets may continue modestly upward. Investors should remain nimble in a period of such an extended recovery.” — Todd P. Lowe, President, Parthenon LLC
“Despite the extraordinary length of the current expansion, the U.S. economy is poised for continued growth in 2019. Consensus expectations are for 6 percent growth in U.S. corporate earnings per share in 2019. While not impressive compared to 20 percent estimated growth in 2018, 6 percent would be a solid gain. We are mindful of the potential for short-term losses in stocks – the volatility of last year’s fourth quarter is too fresh. However, with patience and a long-term perspective, we believe in stocks as a component of an investor’s asset management/wealth-building strategy.” — Ann Georgehead, Managing Director, PNC Wealth Management
“Investment markets are processing much noise from world economies, U.S. and international political warfare, and world central bank balance sheet retractions. MCF views most of this as a sideshow, creating waves of volatility within financial markets. We don’t necessarily view volatility as bad; in fact, more often than not it provides opportunities. For 2019, MCF’s views of the capital market are: U.S. economic growth moderating from the 2017-18 pace but still growing; U.S. Federal Reserve slowing interest-rate increases; U.S. equity prices have upside; the dollar will likely weaken against the euro and yen; international equities are very attractively priced; commodities prices will firm; commercial real estate prices will recover; U.S. labor costs will rise 3-plus percent a year. Thousands saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why!” — Dave Harris, CEO, MCF Advisors