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In the closing days of the second quarter, British citizens surprised the world by voting to leave the European Union.  Stocks fell, safe haven assets such as treasury bonds and gold rose, and the British pound and euro sold off.  After the initial sell-off, global stocks rebounded to finish the quarter slightly higher while bond yields remained near all-time lows.  The first half of the year saw lots of ups and downs but global stocks produced modest gains while bonds were stronger as interest rates plummeted. 

Stocks got off to a rough start but rebounded strongly in the second half of the quarter to end close to where they started.  Concerns early in the quarter over slowing growth in China, plunging oil prices, and a slowdown in the U.S. economy led to double-digit losses for U.S. and international stocks.   Then, a sharp rise in oil prices, supportive central bank monetary policy, and steady U.S. economic data led to a swift recovery for markets.

After six years of strong performance and unusually calm markets, volatility picked up in 2015 and returns were flat or down for asset classes across the board (see chart below).  The S&P 500 Index ended the year at about the same place it started but with plenty of ups and downs in between.  

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