Road to Recovery Playbook Factor #1: Peak COVID-19 Cases

As COVID-19-related fear continues grip global financial markets, we wanted to take a closer look at factor #1 in our Road to Recovery Playbook: confidence in the timing of a peak of new COVID-19 cases in the United States.

This is probably the most difficult signal in the playbook to call with any degree of certainty. We can look to data from countries that were affected earlier for clues, but many country-specific factors contribute to the outcomes, e.g., societal norms (such as greeting with a kiss in Italy), population density, age distributions, prevalence of preexisting health conditions, smoking rates, air pollution, availability of testing equipment and criteria for administering tests, the compositions of economies, severity and speed of local governments’ containment measures, and even weather.

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Key Week For The Bottoming Process

Last week, we revised our economic and market forecasts as the war against the COVID-19 pandemic wages on. We are likely in recession now, though we won’t know that for sure until more timely data is released. What is clear, however, is stocks have priced in a recession. We offer our latest thoughts on the bottoming process and take a deeper dive into our updated economic and market forecasts.

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Historic Volatility

Extreme volatility continued as the war against the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic continues and extreme containment measures caused significant disruption to the US and global economies. The S&P 500 Index has declined more than 32% from its February 19 closing high after its biggest weekly loss since 2008 this week. An unprecedented streak of 8 straight days of 4% daily moves in the index ended Thursday.

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How Markets Bottom

With US equities firmly in a bear market, even the most long-term investors are now looking ahead to when the selling may stop and where the S&P 500 Index might ultimately bottom. “Nobody knows exactly how this market bottom will play out,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “However, using history as guide, we know markets tend to retest or even slightly break previous lows.”

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A Clear Vision of Financial Goals

Dear Valued Investor:

Our everyday lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks as we work together to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know these efforts are necessary, but they also have come at a cost.

Global economic growth has been slowing, the US economy likely will contract temporarily, and US stocks have entered a bear market. Big stock market moves, both up and down, have become the norm. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note has fallen to an all-time low, making borrowing cheaper—but challenging savers. In short, this has been a challenging period for many long-term investors, and you’re asking what’s next and what to do.

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Looking To The Other Side of The Bear

The indiscriminate selling continued yesterday, with one of the worst days in stock market history. Fears over the potential impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have led to one of the steepest sell-offs in history, rivaling what we saw in 1962 and 1987.

With the S&P 500 Index down 30% from the all-time highs set less than a month ago on February 19, it is quite clear the stock market is voting on a significant economic slowdown over the coming months. Historically, during bear markets we have found that stocks pulled back 37% on average during a recession and 24% on average if a recession is avoided. With stocks currently down right near the middle of this, the economy could be about a coin flip to going into a recession or not. We discuss this idea and more in our latest LPL Market Signals Podcast.

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