Yin and yang. All things serving as inseparable and contradictory opposites. Preserving the greater balance of the universe and symmetry in all things. Male and female. Dark and light. Old and Young. Q4 2018 and Q1 2019.
The last six months have represented an extraordinary cycle. A really bad quarter (Q4 ) followed by a really good quarter (Q1). Three other similar cycles have occurred since the financial crisis ended in 2009. In each case, the following quarter was also positive and better than average.
Especially positive given that the S&P 500 sits a mere one percent below last year’s all-time high.
Earnings season truly kicked off last week. JP Morgan, PNC, and Wells Fargo reported Friday. Citi and Goldman reported Monday. With the pace picking up this week. A slew of positive reports from the likes of UnitedHealth Group, BlackRock and Bank of America, among others, has elevated stock prices. Continue reading
Like a teenager’s allowance, Q1 came and went. What a quarter it was! Following Q4’s equity rout during which the S&P 500 lost 16 percent, Q1 calmed an angst-ridden global investment community. Turning in the best Q1 stock-market performance in a decade.
Equities were revivified by signs that inflationary pressures remained contained. Because lower inflation allows for higher PE multiples. And keeps the Fed at bay. Grounding two birds with one bullish stone. Allowing stocks to rebound from the losses suffered in the final months of 2018.
Moreover, despite downbeat Q1 earnings projections, investors have grown increasingly optimistic following the Fed’s cautious shift. After pulling money from U.S. stock mutual and exchange-traded funds at the start of the year, more than $25 billion flowed back in during the week ended March 13, the largest weekly inflow in a year.
The S&P 500 rose 0.62 percent over last week’s holiday-shortened trading week. Aside from biotech and energy, everything ended higher. Utilities, precious metals, small and mid-caps led the way. The S&P 500 has risen 11.4 percent for the year. Among its better starts in decades. Meanwhile, the DJIA notched its ninth-straight weekly gain. Returning 16 percent over that span.
Positively, the advance has been global.
The Shanghai composite index scored its seventh-straight weekly gain. Having climbed 12.4 percent. Japan’s Nikkei has posted six positive weeks over the last seven. 12 percent above its December low. And European stocks have been higher seven of the past eight weeks. Elevating 12.6 percent since December 27th.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average trimmed earlier losses Friday afternoon. Propelling the index to its seventh consecutive weekly gain. A sign of the stock market’s resilience. Even in the face of heightened uncertainty.
The index surged in the final 10 minutes of the session to secure a 0.2 percent gain for the week — its longest winning streak since November 2017 when the market rose for eight straight weeks.
Stocks came under pressure earlier in the day amid growing unease about shaky eurozone economic data, renewed trade uncertainty and concerns about weakening corporate earnings.
For Q1, companies in the S&P 500 are expected to post their first year-over-year profit decline in nearly three years.
Stocks behaved like sinners in church last week. Anxious. Sweaty. And panic prone. Continuing their downward skid as investors responded negatively to disappointing economic data from China and the Eurozone, a slight increase in interest rates and rising global trade tensions. All being viewed against a backdrop of concerns over the White House. Which may or may not be in discord amid multiple political and legal fronts.
The S&P 500 fell -1.22 percent last week. An unfortunate follow-up to the prior week’s -4.6 percent debacle. With only two weeks left in 2018, the index lounges nervously in negative territory for the year, down -2.8 percent.
U.S. stocks rallied Wednesday. The most they’ve leapt in eight months. The dollar fell. Emerging-market assets surged. Responding like Pavlov’s dog to the dovish tone from Fed chairman Powell. One that fueled speculation that the central bank is closer than thought to pausing rate hikes.
Stocks that had fallen the most during the six-week slump led the gains. Aggressively responding to Powell’s comments that rates are “just below” a neutral-policy range. Potentially removing one of the markets biggest drags.
Powell added that the economic outlook remains “solid.” Which underscored expectations for a December rate hike. But he added that the effects of higher rates take time to show up in data. Which led investors to surmise that the Fed is likely to reduce the number of hikes, if not outright pause them, next year.
Rough month for global equity indices. Yet, we remain above the March lows. At which time the S&P 500 fell to 2,588. three percent beneath today’s level. For now, the primary uptrend remains higher. Though pragmatic market observers must recognize that the trendline could be in jeopardy should this month end with lower lows.
This places investors in a waiting game. As we believe the current bout of volatility to be like the many others incurred throughout this bull market. Providing, in the end, to be a healthy, “Scare-all-the-weak-hands” correction. Separating the wheat from the chaff. So long as indices reverse course — then the current fireworks simply set the stage for the next run higher. Just when such a move is least expected.
Of course, that just happens to be how Mr. Market operates. One minute? Your best friend. The next? A stone-cold killer. Continue reading
Following the previous week’s four percent decline, and the ten percent overall correction, the S&P 500 managed to climb 2.47 percent this week. Shaving some of the October losses. And lending an air of optimism to a pervasively ominous sentiment.
As of last Wednesday, more than 75 percent of stocks in the S&P 500 were 10 percent or more below their highs of the past year. Marking an official correction. The second of the year following February’s -10.02 percent decline. Such circumstances whereby 75 percent of index stocks are in correction has occurred five times since the 2009 bull market began. Three of which quickly formed bottoms. The other two saw further selling in the near term. Ultimately, however, they recorded solid gains over the following two, three and 12 months.
Interestingly, S&P 500 returns went temporarily negative for the year. This has happened after at least 100 days in positive territory only five other times since 1929. In all cases, the benchmark index was up solidly three and six months later. With the best result being an 11 percent gain in three months following the October 19, 1987, Black Monday crash.