Many signs point to improved global economic growth and rising corporate earnings. In the United States, economic growth may be more modest than in other regions, which could result in international stocks outperforming domestic ones.

Low interest rates typically benefit the financial markets – and unless inflation jumps sharply, the Federal Reserve will probably remain patient, only raising short-term rates slowly throughout 2018.

Despite these positive signs, there’s also reason for caution. Political uncertainty and changes in economic policies may lead to increased market volatility. Another factor is the long-term history of the stock market, which includes a drop of 10% or more – technically called a “correction” – about once a year. We’ve gone two years since the last correction, so it would not be surprising if we saw one in 2018.

So what investment moves should you consider this year? Here are a few suggestions:

Rebalance your portfolio – The market’s gains may have increased the value of your stocks so much that they now represent a greater percentage of your portfolio than you had intended – and you may not be comfortable with this increased presence.

So, you may want to rebalance your portfolio to achieve a suitable mix of stocks and bonds, based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

Look beyond U.S. borders – You may want to consider adding some international equity investments to your portfolio, if appropriate. As mentioned above, these stocks may do better than U.S. stocks in 2018, but regardless of performance, the presence of global stocks can help diversify your portfolio – and diversification can help decrease your overall risk level.

Be aware of “big” versus “little” – If you don’t own many stocks of smaller companies, you might consider adding them to your portfolio. Smaller U.S. stocks have traditionally outperformed larger ones and may benefit from stronger economic growth and lower corporate tax rates. Be aware, though that small company stocks tend to be more volatile than those of larger companies. And, as with all stock investments, you may risk losing some or all of your principal.

You may want to consult with a financial professional to determine which of these moves, or any others, are right for you.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Todd Volden in Westby.

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Westby Times editor

Dorothy Robson is editor of the Westby Times. Contact her at 608-637-5625.

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