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PMG Opinion Letter and Market Review

The second quarter of 2018 can be called a lot of things, but boring isn't one of them. The potential for a trade war between the United States and China heated up in April as China responded to the threat of U.S. tariffs on Chinese Imports by warning of the same magnitude of tariffs on U.S. products. The uncertainty from the rhetoric between the U.S. and China/EU was calmed somewhat by the favorable corporate earnings reports from many companies. The equity markets ended almost universally positive for the second quarter.

The energy sector was one of the drivers in the equity markets from the expected to benefits from higher oil prices. Oil prices hit multi-year highs in May. Threatened imposition of export bans on Iran and the implosion of Venezuela exports are limiting the expectations of supply. The expectations are starting to reverse from the long-term excess of supply over demand to the reverse causing higher oil prices. 

are targeting $100 per barrel to help shore up their national finances. Expect the OPEC production limits to remain in place through most of this year and the price of oil to continue on it current gradually increasing trajectory.

The paces of interest rate hikes is the other big story of the first quarter. Inflation has moved little since the beginning of the year, but income increased. Most pundits are expecting at least 2 more increases in the federal funds rate, with some looking for 3 more this year. The FOMC described the economic activity as "moderate".

Expect the political headlines to continue to dominate going through the rest of the year. The economy is expected to maintain its course of relative strength. The unpredictability on a variety of areas out of Washington, DC will continue to contribute to higher volatility in the markets. Out of Washington alone, the Russian investigation and other legal actions against the President, tariffs by various nations around the world in response to U.S. tariffs, the Iran nuclear deal, immigration, North Korea meeting, dysfunctional congress, congressional elections, etc will more than likely contribute to continued volatility in the markets though out the rest of the year. 

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