The rally that began around Christmas Eve continued with strength through last week.
It’s been such a strong rally that U.S. large company stocks (as measured by the S&P 500 index) even eclipsed the prior record high from last September…admittedly, an event of which I was skeptical.
Specifically, on September 21st the S&P 500 set a new intra-day high at $2,940.91. However, last Wednesday the S&P 500 touched $2,954.13 before closing down to $2,923.17. As I write this commentary on May 6th, the S&P 500 is trading around $2,910.
Now, unfortunately, the S&P 500 was the only major index to set a new high. U.S. small company stocks (Russell 2000) are still down over 8% from their August 31st record. The global stock market more broadly, including foreign developed and emerging markets (MSCI All Cap World Index), is still down over 6% from it’s all-time high set almost 16 months ago on January 26th, 2018. Yes, the global stock market is still technically in a bear market.
Here is the interesting part, when reviewing one of the most reliable valuations metrics available from John Hussman, we find that the U.S. stock market has experienced current extremes only two other times in history (1) 1929: on the eve of the Great Depression and (2) 2000 – on the eve of the Dot Com Bubble burst. Neither of those events ended well, and I don’t expect the current dislocation to end well either. Continue reading “Market Update – Only Two Other Times in History”
The stock market is experiencing quite a rally this month. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the last five bear markets to check (a) if rallies have been common within past bear markets, (b) how long bear market rallies typically last, and (c) the average magnitude of bear market rallies.
Executive Summary: Every single one of the last five bear markets going back to 1973 included at least one rally of 10% or more before the market fell further. The average bear market rally since 1973 has been about 15% and lasted about 1.5 months on average. The rally we’re currently experiencing has produced about a 12.1% increase over the last three weeks.
Continue reading “Bear Market Rallies in Context”
I’ve provided you with performance of various asset classes around the world for both the third quarter and year-to-date to give you a sense of how global markets are performing. I’ve sorted the list by Year-To-Date returns going from lowest to highest.
What do you notice? Continue reading “Quarterly Market Update: Diversification Bites”
Today, the bull market turns 3,543 days old…maybe.
We tend to break up the market cycle into bull phases (rising markets) and bear phases (falling markets), which makes sense. However, the demarcation of each, a 20% rise or fall, is completely arbitrary. Why isn’t it 30%, or 21%, or 19%? Why does it have to be 20%? In any case, that’s the most widely used definition so that’s what we’ll use here as well.
However, there is another element that confuses the issue. Although yesterday the S&P 500 set a new all-time intra-day high of $2,873.23, the S&P 500 fell off towards the end of the day so that it still has not closed above the January 26th all-time closing high of $2,872.87 (closed at $2,862.96).
That means, based on closing price, we still do not have confirmation that this is the longest bull market in history as it’s possible January 26th remains the top for the bull market that began in March of 2009 and, therefore, the beginning of the bear market. Another market issue that can only be identified in hindsight. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
It’s no secret that I have been concerned about both (1) our proximity to the next bear market and (2) the potential severity of the decline in the next bear market.
A tricky thing about bear markets, however, is that we can be in one for a long time before we even realize it. That’s because bear markets can only be confirmed in hindsight only AFTER losses have become sufficiently severe. That doesn’t do the “reactive” investor any good because by the time it is known we are in a bear market (or a recession) it’s almost too late to do anything about it. The only way to avoid being reactive is to be proactive, which can only be accomplished if you understand history and are able to pick up on meaningful signals through all the noise. Continue reading “Signals Through the Noise”