What’s Going on in the Markets for February 25, 2020


It wasn’t a pretty day for the stock market fans on Monday with one of the worst down days in over two years. Does that mean the market is doomed and that we’ve finally topped? Read on for some encouraging news on post-smack down days like Monday, with some help from my friend and fellow market writer Jon D. Markman.

Investors seemed to panic on Monday over a climb in corona virus infections outside of the Chinese epicenter and also started to discount the possibility that the Democrats might nominate capitalism antagonist Bernie Sanders.

The Dow Jones Industrials Average started with a gap down and 500-point slide, made a couple of feeble rebound attempts, then closed on its low at -1,031 points with a 3.5% loss. The S&P 500 fell 3.35%, the NASDAQ 100 fell 3.9% and the small-cap Russell 2000 index fell 2.9%. This puts us about 5% below all-time highs as measured by the S&P 500 index, a normal and frequent pull-back level.

It was a bad day for sure, but in no way historic. Slams of 3.5% occur about twice a year on average, with something like 100 instances since 1928. The Monday slide was just the 48th biggest one day drop for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) since 1993. It was the worst Monday decline since way back on Feb. 5, 2018, when the SPY sank 4.18% for a reason nobody can quite remember.

Sure it’s sad that the corona virus has spread to Italy and other countries, but overseas events ranging from assassinations and full-blown wars to economic hardship and the ebola virus just don’t move the dial for U.S. investors, whose attitude is pretty much, “Sorry not sorry.”

This is a good time to remind you that the only reason markets care about the dreaded virus is that it could put a kink in global supply chains that reduce public companies’ recent guidance on future revenues and margins (i.e., overall corporate profits). So it’s really another recession scare, not a public health scare.

Investors are susceptible to the scare because global economic growth is already slow, with the latest annualized reading on eurozone GDP at just 1.4% and the U.S. not much better at 2.3%. That’s barely above stall speed, so it wouldn’t take much to knock the spinning top on its side. Nick Colas of DataTrek Research notes: “The combination of structurally low inflation, aging populations, and central bank balance sheet expansion has pulled long term interest rates lower, persistently signaling a brewing recessionary storm to market participants.”

As a result, investors ditched oil and gas assets in the wake of reports that the corona virus continues to infect more people worldwide. Iran, Italy and South Korea reported sharp increases in infections, according to Reuters. Italy now has the world’s third-largest concentration of corona virus cases and the economy is “vulnerable to disruption from the corona virus, being at serious risk of slipping into recession this quarter,” said analysts at Daiwa Capital Markets in a note Monday. I believe that a lot more evidence is needed to make the conclusion that we’re at risk of a near-term recession.

Besides, the market has gone up pretty much uninterrupted since the beginning of October 2018 and was very much overdue for a rest. Monday’s performance was a mere flesh wound to the charging bull (market).

The good news is that Bespoke (a market quantitative analysis firm) reports that 2%-plus drops on Mondays have historically been bought with a vengeance in the near term. Since March 2009, there have been 18 prior 2%+ drops on Mondays, and SPY (the exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500 index) has seen an average gain of 1.02% on the next day – which is how “Turnaround Tuesday” got its name.

Even more impressive, over the next week, SPY has averaged a huge gain of 3.16% with positive returns 17 out of 18 times. And over the next month, SPY has averaged a gain of 6.08% with positive returns 17 of 18 times as well. Anything can happen, of course–this is the stock market we’re talking about here.

The analysts also studied big declines on each day of the week. Turns out that in the month after 2%+ drops on Mondays, SPY has averaged a huge gain of 4.5%.

No guarantees, but investors tend to buy the trip when big stumbles start a week. Sure, it might be short-term, but the pullback so far merely takes back all of the gains we accumulated in February 2020, so we’re still slightly up on the year as measured by the S&P 500 index. Can it get worse? Of course, it can, but we need more evidence that the long term uptrend is in jeopardy.

Those that haven’t yet hedged their portfolios during this entire bull market run should consider trimming positions or reduce risk in their portfolios on any bounce. It never hurts to take some money off the table, as no one knows if we’ve topped or we’re on our ways to make new all-time highs again. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities-you should check with your advisor for the best approach that fits your goals, your risk tolerance and time-frame. For our client portfolios, we’ve done just that, and will do more of that should the pull-back deepen.

I think we’ll get a quick bounce back, and then the market tends to go back and test the lows after a few days. If that low holds, then that could signal that this short-term pullback is over. If it doesn’t, then more corrective work is needed to wring out some short-term excesses that are in the market.

If you would like to review your current investment portfolio or discuss any other financial planning matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us or visit our website at http://www.ydfs.com. We are a fee-only fiduciary financial planning firm that always puts your interests first.  If you are not a client yet, an initial consultation is complimentary and there is never any pressure or hidden sales pitch. We start with a specific assessment of your personal situation. There is no rush and no cookie-cutter approach. Each client is different, and so is your financial plan and investment objectives.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: