Dear Valued Investor:
“The stock market takes an escalator up, and an elevator down.” Classic Wall Street saying.
The last week has sure felt like taking an express elevator down, as the end of February brought a historic stock market sell-off, with the S&P 500 Index moving from an all-time high to a 10% correction in only six days—the quickest such move ever. Along the way, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) experienced multiple 1,000-point drops, including Thursday’s biggest one-day point drop ever, adding to fears. As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, what was once a promising start to 2020 now has the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq Composite all negative year to date.
To put the recent market weakness in perspective, in an average year the S&P 500 may pull back from its highest point to its lowest point 14% on average. Even in years in which the S&P 500 finished higher, it had a pullback of 11% on average. In 2019, when stocks gained more than 30%, we saw two pullbacks of more than 5% during the year. After a historically calm stretch to end last year and start this year, larger than normal volatility shouldn’t come as a surprise. We didn’t expect stocks to pull back this quickly, but we’re still within the normal range of market volatility.