Is market volatility like this normal? Well, in a word, NO. But it is not unprecedented.
Currently, we have an unmeasurable problem. The coronavirus known as Covid-19 is causing an un-known amount of economic damage. Because of the lack of ability to measure the problem, the markets are risk off or risk on, on a near daily basis. At the writing of this article the US Fed has just announced a .5% rate cute. This normally would be a tremendous boost to the markets;however, other than one big bounce, the markets went right back down. This, while on Monday, the S&P 500 was up 4.6% in hopes of a rate cut. So, making heads or tails of the data is tough these days.
Let’s revisit our last great Bear market. I would say that this is a nice walk down memory lane, but many of us at Sound lived it in 2007-2009. The markets (S&P 500) started down in October 2007 with a 10% loss, then an 8% recovery, followed by a 16% loss, and a 9% recovery. This continued through March of 2009. Coincidentally, the current S&P 500 peaked on February 20th, lost nearly 13% into February 28th, only to bounce 4.6% on March 3rd.
As you read this please remember that these are very short term moves and not be alarmed.
So what do we do about these moves? This is why we built our rules based investment methods. Because of the news cycles and the massive amount of data available to all of us these days, we wanted a system that helps us cut through the noise, measure the data, and make a clear decision. This led us to moving most of our models to risk-off on February 28th. This means that most likely your investment took a step more conservative, if you are our client. We believe this is a good move, and one that we will be pleased with in the future. However, no trades are perfect and we don’t have a crystal ball! And remember, markets and economies cycle,theymove up and down. There is a natural rhythm to this, even if it is abrupt.
Our goal is to educate you and stay in touch, recognizing that there is a lot of noise in the news. If you have any questions and want a more full explanation, please do not hesitate to call your advisor at Sound. We are working hard for you and appreciate your trust in us!
In this week’s recap: Major equity indices correct as Wall Street reacts to coronavirus updates, consumer confidence indices are at high levels, and the pace of new home sales increases.
THE WEEK ON WALL STREET
Stocks fell sharply last week as Wall Street considered how the coronavirus outbreak might influence global business activity and household spending.
The selloff became a correction for the U.S. markets. The S&P 500 retreated 11.49%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 12.36%; the Nasdaq Composite, 10.54%. The MSCI EAFE, tracking developed stock markets outside North America, had fallen 6.75% week-over-week by Friday’s closing bell.
On Friday afternoon, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell stated that central bank officials were willing to “use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”1,2,3
STRONG CONSUMER CONFIDENCE, PLUS A BOOST FOR INCOMES
A trio of economic indicators, pertaining to U.S. households, looked solid last week. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index notched consecutive months above 130 for the first time since July-August 2019, posting a 130.7 February mark. The University of Michigan’s final February Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 101.0, ticking up from a preliminary 100.9.
Friday, the Department of Commerce reported that Americans increased their personal spending by 0.2% in January, while personal incomes improved 0.6%.4,5
Buyers Have Flocked to New Homes
New home sales, according to the Census Bureau, improved 7.9% in January; the annualized pace of new home buying was the best seen since July 2007. Year-over-year, sales were up 18.6%. Housing market analysts cited a favorable economy and favorable weather as factors.6
Right now, there is no forecast for how the coronavirus outbreak may affect consumer demand or supply chains. The impact may not be known for months. But remember, your investment strategy should reflect your risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals, and it also should take into consideration periods of market volatility. Fear is driving decisions in the financial markets. Nobody would blame you if this uncertainty gave you a bit of anxiety as well.
THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA
Monday: The Institute for Supply Management’s latest factory activity index arrives.
Wednesday: Automatic Data Processing (ADP) publishes its February private payrolls report, and ISM’s index of February service-sector business activity appears.
Friday: The Department of Labor presents its February employment report.
Source: MarketWatch, February 28, 2020
The MarketWatch economic calendar lists upcoming U.S. economic data releases (including key economic indicators), Federal Reserve policy meetings, and speaking engagements of Federal Reserve officials. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and may not materialize. The forecasts also are subject to revision.
THE WEEK AHEAD: COMPANIES REPORTING EARNINGS
Tuesday: AutoZone (AZO), Ross Stores (ROST), Target (TGT)
Thursday: Costco (COST), Kroger (KR)
Source: Zacks.com, February 28, 2020
Companies mentioned are for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, time frame, and risk tolerance. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Companies may reschedule when they report earnings without notice.
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