Jeff’s Weekly Stock Market Commentary: The Biggest Political Earthquake
Almost a year ago I remember predicting that the S&P 500 would set lower lows before it reached higher highs. The S&P 500 hit an all-time high of 2132 back on July 20th of 2015. As a result I had been moving out of stocks as we approached August 2015.
That turned out to be prescient because the markets had a 14% plunge in August of 2015. This is what the plunge looked like—a waterfall type event:
The market briefly recovered about half that loss then dropped back down to the lows in October 2015. Over the next few months the markets climbed back up to near its all-time high. Then, as we started 2016, the Federal Reserve announced it would be RAISING interest rates and it set off a market panic.
The stock market collapsed from 2116 on November 3rd to 1810 on 2/11/2016. It was the worst start of a year EVER; A plunge of 14.5% over a 3-month period.
The S&P 500 hit an all-time high in May of 2015 at 2130. It has been downhill since then with a free-fall in the index during the middle of August where it slid to 1867. Many investors were shocked at the 12% plunge but were relieved that the markets recovered over the next two months—or did they? On January 20th, 2016 the S&P 500 was back down to 1860 and it is becoming obvious to even the most bullish investors that we may not recover for quite a while.
Happy New Year!
Most investors will be happy to have 2015 in the rear-view mirror. The S&P 500 eked out a 1.4% return including dividends. Excluding dividends it was down -0.73%. A total return of 1.40% for the S&P 500 is the worst annual return since 2008. Overall, that sounds rather tame, but both the stock and bond markets gyrated more in 2015 than they have since 2009.
Everyone wants to sell high and buy low.
The old adage about investing is that you should buy low and sell high. And that is sage advice. The question is how do you put that into practice? This may sound simplistic, but in order to buy low you first have to sell high!
The S&P 500 set all-time highs last July. ALL-TIME. So, does that mean that you should sell now and move to cash and/or US Treasury bonds and wait for the market to correct?
In 2000, the market hit an all-time high and declined soon after 46%. In hindsight, any time between March and September of 2000 would have been a great time to sell all of your equities and move to cash. Those that did would have maintained their account balance while those that didn’t sell likely saw losses of 46% or more. Those that didn’t sell their stocks and instead held through that crash missed their chance to sell high.