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The S&P 500 has moved relentlessly higher this year. While performance in the second year of a bull market is historically exceptional, the path higher isn’t generally a straight line. On average the S&P 500 corrects by more than 5% about three times a year, and by more than 10% about every sixteen months. The last correction greater than 5% was in was in October of 2020 (10 months ago), and greater than 10% was in March of 2020 (17 months ago). This would indicate that we are due and arguably overdue for a market correction.
As a result, we are holding 5% of our equity allocation in cash looking for an opportunity to take advantage of lower prices. We also expect the rate of the 10-year treasury to creep up in the back half of the year, which we’d view as positive for the value-oriented segments of the market we’re overweighted. We still view all drawdowns as opportunities rather than threats, and feel we’ll end the year higher than we are today.
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Six Months and Counting
Six months and counting. That is the current monthly winning streak for the S&P 500 Index. To take that a step further, this key equity benchmark has posted gains in 13 of the last 16 months—dating back to the March 2020 low. With stocks nearly at a double from those lows, it has indeed been hard to quibble about what stocks have provided recently.
The primary upside equity catalyst in July appeared to be another healthy earnings season. So far, with over 60% of S&P 500 companies reporting results, 88% have beaten their earnings estimates. This would be the highest ever recorded if it stands, according to FactSet—and well above the 75% five-year average. There’s more. Add in the steady recent decline in interest rates, which help with equity valuation calculations, and you get an equity market on a hot streak.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) has, so far, remained relatively quiet about its plans to roll back its historic accommodation. Its recent two-day meeting closed with little fan-fare and negligible new information. Monetary policymakers are still discussing a plan to taper bond purchases that we expect to see uncovered in the fall.
Second-quarter U.S. GDP was reported in the last week of July. Although the 6.5% reading (quarter-over-quarter annualized) was below the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 8.4%, consumer spending exceeded expectations. Moreover, inventories declined at their second-worst rate in 12 years, setting up a possible boost in coming quarters when those inventories are replenished. While the post-COVID economic rebound has certainly been robust, supply chain issues continue to take some edge off growth.
Although we booked a lot of good news in recent months, we have now come upon a typically volatile period for stocks. The months of August and September have historically been a bit choppy as trading volume tends to dissipate and it may take less selling to move the major averages lower. That could be something investors will want to keep an eye on now that August has arrived. Also, consider that the second year of a bull market has historically brought more ups and downs.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
All data is provided as of August 1, 2021.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.
All index data from FactSet.
This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.