Month: February 2020

Staying the Course – Coronavirus and Past Market Epidemics

As of February 28, 2019, global stock markets have entered “correction” territory, defined as a 10% decline from the index high. This is in large
part due to the uncertainty surrounding the new coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan City, China, but now detected in 37 locations internationally, including the United States. There certainly will be an economic impact, as growth slows due to quarantines, less consumer traffic and lower factory output, but it is still to be determined its final result on global growth. Stock markets, however, do not like uncertainty. As uncertainty has grown around this new coronavirus, the resulting fear has led to a quick and notable downward movement in the market. Epidemics in the past have also led to sharp pull-backs in the markets. Over the long-term, however, the stock market has weathered past epidemics. The below chart looks at the historical returns of the S&P 500 Index during multiple epidemics over the last 40 years. Over the 6 and 12 month periods following an epidemic, the S&P 500 performance has, on average, been positive.

 

During times of uncertainty and market volatility, while it is prudent for plan participants to “stay the course”, it is also prudent for them to review their investment strategies (e.g., “What is my risk tolerance? When will I retire? When will I need this money?”) to ensure they are on the most appropriate path. A new course of action is only warranted if it is more appropriate than the current path. Evaluating one’s own situation—having the most appropriate asset allocation or glide path and high enough contribution rates—can lead to the most positive actions a participant may take in saving for retirement. Bailing out of the markets and a retirement plan is typically an imprudent action, often detrimental to reaching future long-term retirement goals. Data indicates that individuals attempting to time the market generally proves futile. Current market conditions rarely provide a clear direction as to the future performance of the markets. The U.S. market in particular has been dynamic and resilient in moving on from crisis after crisis throughout history. The recent market volatility should remind plan participants to focus on what they should be doing on a regular basis: Be mindful of the situation, but diligent about your investment strategy. Participants need to act in their own best interests while the stock market reacts to the current coronavirus and the uncertainty it brings: another bout of expected short-term market volatility.

 

 

 

Chart Source: First Trust (Bloomberg, as of 2/24/20. Month end numbers were used for the 6- and 12-month % change. *12-month data is not available for the June 2019 measles. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged index of 500 stocks used to measure large-cap U.S. stock market performance. Investors cannot invest directly in an index. Index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses, or sales charges. Returns are based on price only and do not include dividends. This chart is for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment. These returns were the result of certain market factors and events which may not be repeated in the future. The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. By providing this information, First Trust is not undertaking to give advice in any fiduciary capacity within the meaning of ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or any other regulatory framework. Financial advisors are responsible for evaluating investment risks independently and for exercising independent judgment in determining whether investments are appropriate for their clients.)

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Global Retirement Partners, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Global Retirement Partners and Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP) are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Global Retirement Partners employs (or contracts with) individuals who may be (1) registered representatives of LPL Financial and investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners; or (2) solely investment adviser representatives of Global Retirement Partners. Although all personnel operate their businesses under the name Strategic Retirement Partners (SRP), they are each possibly subject to differing obligations and limitations and may be able to provide differing products or services.

 

Market Update – February 25, 2020

Monday was a tough day in the stock market, with the S&P 500 Index down more than 3% as the number of coronavirus cases reported outside of China jumped. Monday’s losses reversed all of this year’s gains so far for the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Averages. The Nasdaq Composite Index appeared to be holding onto a small year-to-date gain through Monday’s close. After several months of relative calm in the markets, Monday’s volatility probably felt worse than it might have otherwise, but a 3% one-day decline never feels good.

Every virus outbreak is different, but looking back at other major global outbreaks over the last three decades (SARS, bird flu, swine flu, Zika, etc.), we can see that the impact to the U.S. and global economies and stock market has tended to be short-lived. It’s possible the current outbreak has the potential to follow a similar path, although there is still significant uncertainty. The coronavirus has spread more quickly than SARS, the most comparable outbreak, but the policy response also has been more aggressive, and the survival rate has been higher.

To put Monday’s decline into perspective, even in positive years for stocks, the S&P 500 historically has experienced an average peak-to-trough intra-year decline of about 11%. In other words, the S&P 500 has fallen 11% at some point during most years before ending higher. This latest pullback that we’re experiencing has barely reached 5%, and it is still well within the normal range of market volatility. On average, the S&P 500 has experienced three to four pullbacks of around 5–10% per year.

It’s also important to remember that the global economy had started to see a pickup in momentum in late 2019/early 2020, before the outbreak. Leading indicators of economic activity were pointing higher. Purchasing managers’ surveys for the United States and Europe had improved. And corporate America delivered solid better-than-expected fourth quarter 2019 earnings results, with many companies saying good things about their 2020 outlooks.

Many view the coronavirus as a delay in—not an end to—the global economic acceleration story that has been unfolding since December’s U.S.-China trade deal. That momentum has put the global economy and corporations in better positions to weather the coronavirus storm. Most likely there will be global economic impact from the coronavirus over the next several months, but investing fundamentals make the case for a rebound in the second half of this year, potentially with some help from government stimulus.

As difficult as it may be to stay the course in the face of recent market volatility, long-term investors may want to consider that approach. Based on history, it is possible that we may see a return to pre-outbreak levels of global economic growth and corporate profits within the next several months—which could continue to power this bull market and economic expansion through 2020 and possibly beyond.

 

 

 

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 February 24, 2020.

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.