In the fourth quarter of 2017, the S&P 500® Index returned 6.64%. Large cap equities outperformed small cap equities, as measured by the S&P 600® Index, which returned 3.96% in the fourth quarter.
The top-performing sectors over this time period were consumer discretionary and information technology, returning 9.87% and 9.01%, respectively. Utilities and health care were the worst-performing sectors for the quarter, with returns of 0.21% and 1.46%, respectively.
The top-performing securities over this time period were L Brands, Inc. and Kroger Co., returning 46.50% and 37.62%, respectively. L Btands' strong quarter came from a rebound from a recent downtrend, and Kroger was able to surprise to the upside in recent earnings fueling its strong quarter. PG&E Corporation and Celgene Corporation were the worst-performing securities for this quarter, with returns of -34.16% and -28.43%, respectively.
The Stock Index Fund returned 6.62% for the fourth quarter, which was in-line with the Fund's benchmark, the S&P 500® Index, which returned 6.64% for the quarter. U.S. equities in the fourth quarter of 2017 continued to rally off of the strong first three quarters of the year. The S&P 500® Index posted, for the first time ever, positive performance in each of the 12 months of a calendar year, pushing the index to new all-time highs for the quarter, and keeping volatility near all-time lows. Market participants continued to shrug off geopolitical turmoil in North Korea and the Middle East, and instead focused on continued global growth. The fourth quarter also saw the Federal Reserve begin the process of unwinding their balance sheet while keeping with intentions for continued gradual interest rate increases. These announcements, coupled with the late year passing of U.S. tax reform, lead to an increase in market optimism and interest rates, benefitting equities on the whole.
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