Market commentary, 1st Quarter 2017

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Markets were generally up across the board as improving prospects for global growth encouraged investors to take more risks. U.S. stocks were up 6.07% on continued market enthusiasm for proposed lower taxes and regulatory rollback. A weaker dollar and higher corporate earnings contributed to emerging market stocks rising by 11.45%. The Federal Reserve increased the benchmark short-term interest rate by 25 basis points after inflation continued to rise and employment data continued to improve. Mutual fund and exchange-traded fund investors increased their holdings of stocks and decreased their holdings of bonds. For the quarter, stocks had a net inflow of $82.3 billion while bonds had a net outflow of $6.5 billion. Total money market mutual fund assets decreased by $70 billion to $2.7 trillion. Total employment increased by 533,000 jobs this quarter, and unemployment fell from 4.9% to 4.5%. The price of oil fell from $54 to $51 a barrel through the quarter.

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