Balanced Fund Commentary – Q1 2018

Market Commentary

After a strong start to the year, global equity markets became volatile in February. For perspective, there were only 4 days in 2017 where the S&P 500 lost more than 1{a4bc595f5bf22b450fc57725bbb5a349cea6d8af0e21f99fc8d20f6b7000a772} of it’s value. In 2018, there were 11 days of comparable losses in the first quarter alone.

Continued uncertainty around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), low oil prices and increasing household debt resulted in a 4.5{a4bc595f5bf22b450fc57725bbb5a349cea6d8af0e21f99fc8d20f6b7000a772} decline in Canadian stocks during the first quarter. Bonds were flat during the quarter while Global & US equities posted small gains thanks to a weakening Canadian dollar. Our dollar depreciated against other major currencies despite an interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada.

In this type of market, patience is key to investor success. Volatility brings opportunities to those with knowledge, insight and experience.

Fund Details & Performance

Manulife Monthly High Income Fund – currency hedging hurt the fund in the first quarter as the Canadian dollar depreciated versus the US dollar.

JF Balanced Fund – fund performance matched its benchmark during the quarter. Overweight positions in US & International equities helped offset a weak Canadian equity market.

Special Note:

On February 18, 2018 – Scotiabank and Jarislowsky Fraser announced that Scotiabank will acquire Jarislowsky Fraser. In discussions with the firm, I’ve been assured that the investment team and process will not change.