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Half a Year of Gains and Many Unanswered Questions

Trade jitters, political uncertainty, slower growth. All the issues that plagued investors and sent stocks sliding around this time last year still linger. Yet stocks are up 13% so far in 2019, the best performance in the first half since 1998. One key difference has been the dovish tone adopted by central banks of late. Traders may need more than that to keep them going through the rest of the year.

June is usually a bad month for equities, but not this year. Optimism spurred by comments from the ECB and the Fed propelled the Stoxx Europe 600 Index toward its best returns for the period since 2012. The rally has been broad, and across most asset classes.