Investors are heading into the final month of 2018 apprehensively, as shaky trading in everything from stocks to bonds to oil to bitcoin has tempered expectations for gains in the months to come.
U.S. stocks stabilized in November after a punishing autumn rout but remain well below the highs they hit earlier in the year. Crude oil briefly slid below $50 a barrel for the first time in more than a year, hurt by worries about a potential supply glut as well as slowing global growth. And the 10-year Treasury yield—a barometer for global finance—is on the verge of falling below 3% again after comments from the Federal Reserve’s chairman triggered bets on the central bank raising rates more gradually than expected.
To many, the twists and turns across markets reflect the increasingly cloudy outlook facing investors.
Much remains up in the air. The U.S. and China, set to meet at the Group of 20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires this weekend, are still mired in a trade fight. The Fed is expected to raise interest rates in December but looks more uncertain about its pace of rate increases next year. And the outlook for global growth appears uneven after a synchronized expansion around the world helped lift stocks from New York to Japan and Hong Kong to multiyear highs in 2017.
“It’s been certainly a roller-coaster year,” said Andrew Braun, portfolio manager for large cap funds at investment firm Pax World Funds. “Investors are starting to focus on just how