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2018 Midyear Outlook

Wells Fargo Investment Institute - June 2018

As the economic recovery ages, many investors are wondering if we’re nearing a recession. Wells Fargo Investment Institute explains why late cycle doesn’t mean end of cycle—and what that may mean for investors today.  

Transcript: 2018 Midyear Outlook Video

On-screen graphic: Has the volatility this year been a surprise to you?

Since early February, investors have seen more downside in equity prices than in all of 2017. But, this year’s volatility was not a surprise to us. We had been expecting volatility to pick up from last year’s historically low levels, and the good news is that pullbacks can actually be healthy for markets. Higher levels of volatility can signal building risks, particularly late in business cycles. These risks can alter the risk-reward balance in portfolios.

However, we believe positive feedback loops continue to promote expansion as the rebound in corporate profits and sentiment should prove more durable in promoting broad-based upturns in business spending and continued hiring through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019. To put it succinctly, late cycle doesn’t mean end of cycle—and that difference has investment implications.

For example, the increased volatility in commodities, oil in particular, was prompted by geopolitical uncertainties in the Middle East, stronger global oil demand, and OPEC’s unusually disciplined production cuts, all of which have pressured oil prices higher.

Additionally, currencies have been more volatile this year—foreign exchange markets price in the divergence between rising U.S. interest rates and the low rates that persist in Europe, Japan, and other developed markets.

On-screen graphic: Where do you see growth opportunities the remainder of the year?

While the U.S. equity markets got ahead of themselves in January, we think earnings will continue to rise in an environment of steady economic growth and modestly rising inflation and interest rates. That should support higher U.S. equity prices by year end.

From a global standpoint, we favor U.S. equities over developed and emerging markets. In fixed income markets, even gradually rising inflation and interest rates make long-term bonds less attractive than short-term instruments.

In comparing bonds across countries and regions, we favor the U.S. over local-currency developed markets for two primary reasons—U.S. yields are more attractive and we anticipate volatility in the currencies market.

On-screen graphic: Where would you rather not take risk?
We would also be cautious on lower-rated areas of fixed income. At current valuations, we believe that high-yield debt offers limited upside potential and meaningful downside risk. To lessen overall portfolio risk, we suggest moving up in credit quality by reducing exposure to
high yield bonds and investing in shorter-term high-quality corporate debt.
We would also avoid commodity markets, where we still see too much available supply. This indicates that investors likely will see price declines as the year progresses.
For more information…download our Wells Fargo Investment Institute 2018 Midyear Outlook Report: Late Cycle Doesn’t Mean End of Cycle.

Risk Considerations:
Different investments offer different levels of potential return and market risk. The level of risk
associated with a particular investment or asset class generally correlates with the level of return the
investment or asset class might achieve. Stock markets, especially foreign markets, are volatile.
Stock values may fluctuate in response to general economic and market conditions, the prospects of
individual companies, and industry sectors. Foreign investing has additional risks including those
associated with currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, and different accounting
standards. These risks are heightened in emerging markets. Small- and mid-cap stocks are
generally more volatile, subject to greater risks and are less liquid than large company stocks. Bonds
are subject to market, interest rate, price, credit/default, liquidity, inflation and other risks. Prices
tend to be inversely affected by changes in interest rates. High yield (junk) bonds have lower credit
ratings and are subject to greater risk of default and greater principal risk. The commodities markets
are considered speculative, carry substantial risks, and have experienced periods of extreme volatility.
Investing in a volatile and uncertain commodities market may cause a portfolio to rapidly increase or
decrease in value which may result in greater share price volatility. Currency risk is the risk that
foreign currencies will decline in value relative to that of the U.S. dollar. Exchange rate movement
between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies may cause the value of a portfolio's investments to
decline.

General Disclosures
The opinions expressed reflect the judgment of the speaker as of the recording date and are subject to change without notice. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Additional information is available upon request.
Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Inc. is a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
The information contained herein constitutes general information and is not directed to, designed for, or individually tailored to, any particular investor or potential investor. This report is not intended to be a client-specific suitability analysis or recommendation, an offer to participate in any investment, or a recommendation to buy, hold or sell securities. Do not use this report as the sole basis for investment decisions. Do not select an asset class or investment product based on performance alone. Consider all relevant information, including your existing portfolio, investment objectives, risk tolerance, liquidity needs and investment time horizon.
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