The Federal Reserve's agenda for 2019 seems, for the moment, the complete opposite of what it was in 2018.
"We've seen a pretty significant about face from their stated policy," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade. Until the end of 2018, the Federal Reserve had multiple rate hikes planned into 2019. But as the global and U.S. economic outlook worsened at the end of 2018, the Fed became dovish, and has remained so.
"Traditionally, when conditions have been accomodative, risk assets have done very well," Loewengart said In other words, stocks do well when central banks don't tighten financial conditions by raising rates. "It remains to be seen if we'll see that happening in this case," he added. Stock investors are awaiting what the Fed has in store for all for 2019 and even into 2020.
But what about investors who want to be defensive?
If rates around the globe are to fall for the next few years, "there will also be the opportunity to consider fixed-income beyond treasuries," Loewengart said. Dividend stocks are "attractive to investors who are seeking out appropriate levels of income, especially if we don't see rates rise from here on out... and that's where dividend paying equities can be really attractive."