Don’t Fight the Fed

After the S&P 500’s worst first quarter on record, the stock market made history with an unprecedented recovery, taking many investors and prognosticators by surprise. Following the market lows reached on March 23rd, the S&P 500 was up 38% through the end of the 2nd quarter, marking one of the sharpest rallies over the past 100 years. The rally was not only monumental given the total return in just 3 months, but there was also 29 trading days (out of 70) that were up over 1%.

With assurance from Chairman Powell that “we will not run out ammunition”, along with optimism that coordinated and focused scientific research would eventually lead to a vaccine (WHO reported there are more than 100 vaccine candidates and over 20 in clinical trials), investors started to look past the pandemic and forward to an economic recovery.

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Covid 19 – Reflection & Response

We spent many hours at the end of 2019 looking at all the potential risks in the economy and markets and nowhere did we find a global pandemic caused by a bat in China. This quarter was the worst performing 1st quarter in history with the S&P 500 down 35% on March 23rd, before rallying to close the quarter down 20%. It took only 18 trading days to go from the greatest market in history to a bear market. There was no discrimination in the decline as nearly all companies suffered significant declines, regardless of their health and growth prospects. Unless we are going into a depression, we believe that much of the bad news has now been priced into stocks. However, a market bottom is typically a process and not an event. The coming months will tell us more about this recovery as the duration will dictate its shape: V, U or L.

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Transformative Platforms

As investors continue to grapple with the near-term issues impacting global markets, we believe there is disruptive innovation happening simultaneously and could be the transformative innovation platforms that can drive the economy out of a potential recession and power growth for many years in the future. The key areas are (Source: Ark Investments):

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Energy Storage
  • DNA Sequencing
  • Blockchain

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On Christmas Eve it looked like the bull market was over, with the market down nearly 20% in less than a quarter. Now, 6 months later, we are back at all-time highs and the market has rallied over 26%. While the average investor is left scratching his or her head, the rally is the result of one main catalyst, the Federal Reserve’s desire to keep interest rates low. This is not a new phenomenon, as the low interest rates have been a driver of much of the market’s success over the past decade.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Successful investing is often determined by one’s ability to stay the course. Since 2009, investors have had every excuse to bail out of stocks, but the market has continued to climb a wall of worry, becoming one of the longest bull markets in history. In fact, since March of ’09, the S&P 500 is up 290%. By historic measures, this market has lasted 108 months vs 54 months for the average bull market. The question becomes: Where are we now? In our humble opinion, we are probably pretty deep into the 4th quarter and might go into overtime.

Click Here to Continue Reading our 1st Qtr 2018 Market Commentary