With the first half of 2016 behind us we would like to bring you up to date on a number of developments both in the financial markets and here at our offices. As always, we begin with a look at the investment landscape. The U.S. stock market has moved sideways for an extended period of time as it continues to digest numerous current events. In June the Federal Reserve decided not to raise short term interest rates. It wasn’t that long ago we anticipated several measured increases in 2016 and so far that has not developed, causing yields to fall to historic lows once more. While the Fed highlighted a downtick in recent economic data as part of their reasoning for holding off, events overseas have weighed as well. In 2015, slowing economic growth in China was the main concern, most recently, the “Brexit” vote caught investors off guard leading to a dramatic 2 day selloff in global stocks. In recent weeks, the market has rebounded sharply to reach new heights as it becomes more apparent that Brexit will be a long process, giving investors more time to better understand what the future of the Eurozone will entail. Increasingly it is felt that this does not appear to be a major drag on global growth.
Domestically, we turn our attention to corporate earnings over the next several weeks. With commodity prices rebounding sharply and the strength of the U.S. dollar subsiding, we are optimistic that the market will see a return to corporate earnings growth over the coming quarters. The energy sector and many large multi-national companies should have increasingly better results. In addition, we are still seeing positive consumer spending and the housing market is quite robust and gaining momentum. In our opinion, these positive indicators are not receiving much attention but they should support sustained economic growth and may help lift stocks even further. We feel that the lack of better alternatives to extremely low fixed income yields will help to drive equity prices higher.
While the markets have kept us busy these last few months, there has been a lot of activity around the office as well. Our Operations Associate, Melissa Wallace, gave birth to her first child. Corbin was born on June 10 and the family is doing great. We look forward to welcoming Melissa back at the end of the summer.
We have two new staffing additions in our Operations area. Stephanie Wilhelm joined us in March as our Trust Operations Clerk. She comes to us after twelve years at the bank in the Operations area. She lives in Woolwich with her husband and one child. Also joining us is Jodie Yeaton. Jodie started with us in June as our Operations Trust Assistant. She too came to us from the bank after six years in our Loan Servicing area. Jodie lives in Wiscasset with her husband and two children.
Due to our continued growth we have added a fourth Trust Assistant position. After serving twelve years as our File Clerk, we are pleased to report that Joanne Hall recently accepted this position. Joanne will have many company-wide responsibilities in addition to her role as assistant. Joanne lives in Bath with her husband.
BSTC continues to grow and thrive thanks to you. We currently manage about $775 million for clients across Maine and across the country. Thank you for your loyalty and support and we hope you have a fantastic summer!