August 5, 2021
Dear Clients & Friends,
Six months and counting. That is the current monthly winning streak for the S&P 500 Index. To take that a step further, this key equity benchmark has posted gains in 13 of the last 16 months—dating back to the March 2020 low. With stocks nearly at a double from those lows, it has indeed been hard to quibble about what stocks have provided recently.
The primary upside equity catalyst in July appeared to be another healthy earnings season. So far, with over 60% of S&P 500 companies reporting results, 88% have beaten their earnings estimates. This would be the highest ever recorded if it stands, according to FactSet—and well above the 75% five-year average. There’s more. Add in the steady recent decline in interest rates, which help with equity valuation calculations, and you get an equity market on a hot streak.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) has, so far, remained relatively quiet about its plans to roll back its historic accommodation. Its recent two-day meeting closed with little fanfare and negligible new information. Monetary policymakers are still discussing a plan to taper bond purchases that we expect to see uncovered in the fall.
Second-quarter U.S. GDP was reported in the last week of July. Although the 6.5% reading (quarter-over-quarter annualized) was below the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 8.4%, consumer spending exceeded expectations. Moreover, inventories declined at their second-worst rate in 12 years, setting up a possible boost in coming quarters when those inventories are replenished. While the post-COVID economic rebound has certainly been robust, supply chain issues continue to take some edge off growth.
Although we booked a lot of good news in recent months, we have now come upon a typically volatile period for stocks. The months of August and September have historically been a bit choppy as trading volume tends to dissipate and it may take less selling to move the major averages lower. That could be something investors will want to keep an eye on now that August has arrived. Also, consider that the second year of a bull market typically brings more ups than downs.
Looking ahead my stock market outlook remains positive as fundamental drivers have been robust, though I fully acknowledge that valuations are elevated. The latter point makes me believe a pullback in the market is quite possible, given the S&P 500 has not fallen as much as 5% since October 2020. The typical trading year brings several 5%-plus pullbacks and potentially one correction in the 10-15% range. Should we get one, investors may want to consider this a buying opportunity, as I would not expect the decline to last very long given the growing economy, accommodative Fed policy, and low interest rate environment. That said, stocks have come a long way and investors may want to double-check their allocations against their risk tolerance. It is never a good idea to get too far out in front of your skis.
Please contact me if you have any questions. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Nicholas J. Enzweiler is a registered representative with, and securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group, a registered investment advisor. Strategic Wealth Advisors Group and Mercer Partners Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.
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 August 1, 2021.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.
All index data from FactSet.
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.