The U.S. stock market did not have a happy holiday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was down approximately 12 percent for the fourth quarter of 2018, and the large market drop the day before Christmas, ordinarily a quiet trading session, was record-breaking.
Yet the news during this period was mixed. On the negative side, there was the ongoing trade war with China, another Federal Reserve interest rate increase, the government shutdown and executive branch instability, and greater uncertainty around the UK exit from the European Union. On the positive side, corporate profits remained strong (bolstered by the largest corporate tax cut in history), the Conference Board’s leading economic indicators pointed to further growth and consumer spending during the holidays set another record.