Also In this Issue: 2019 Outlook — Modest Equity Returns Amid Higher Volatility | Quarterly Performance Benchmarks | Fixed Income Commentary Download PDF It's (still) the Earnings... By Theresa Gusman Ushering in a period of asynchronous and decelerating global economic and profit growth and negative earnings surprises, equity markets fell amid volatile trading in the fourth quarter, erasing gains for the year in the US. US equities slid 13.5% in the fourth quarter, overwhelming increases through the first nine months and resulting in a 4.4% decline for the year. The globally sensitive Energy (-18.1%), Materials (-14.7%), and Industrials (-13.3%) S&P 500 Sectors were the worst performing in 2018, and Health Care (+6.5%), Utilities (+4.1%), and Consumer Discretionary (+0.8%) fared best. Although the pace of decline in non-US equity markets slowed in the fourth quarter, emerging markets fell 14.6% in 2018, as developed international markets dropped 13.8%. Except for Wheat (+3.6%) and Live Cattle (+2.6%), commodity prices ended the year lower. WTI Crude Oil plunged 20.5% in 2018 and 37.5% in the fourth quarter and economic bell weathers Zinc (-23.4%) and Copper (-21.3%) were among the worst performers in 2018.