Several policy-related risks loom in September and October that may lead to an increase in market volatility. The debt ceiling needs to be raised (likely by mid-October), the government needs to be funded to avoid a shutdown by the end of September, and the Democrats are trying to pass two major spending bills and will need to provide greater clarity on tax increases over the next several weeks. We believe the greatest risks come from the debt ceiling and taxes, but expect neither to have much near-term impact on the general trajectory of the bull market.
First and foremost, this week’s commentary should not be construed to suggest that we are saying stocks will go up forever. We are also not saying that stocks are immune from a pullback in the final four months of 2021. Corrections are a normal part of investing and the S&P 500 Index has yet to
pull back even 5% so far this year, something that happens on average three times per year. However, we remain steadfastly bullish and this week want to explore five things that some bears believe that do not worry us.
The term stagflation has been circulating increasingly in the financial media as inflation readings have risen sharply in recent months. The term is often associated with the 1970s, which saw runaway inflation—largely driven by sky-high energy prices—and lackluster economic growth. Stagflation and a return to the weak equity markets of the 1970s would be understandably scary. However, when looking at the data, we remain skeptical that either runaway inflation or low growth are right around the corner, much less both at the same time.
Corporate America did it again. Companies blew by estimates and made strategists and analysts look silly (though we humbly suggest that we may have looked less silly than most in our earnings preview on July 12). S&P 500 earnings growth did not surprise by quite as much as in the first quarter, but came pretty close—boosted by the biggest quarterly upside revenue surprise in at least 13 years. Here, we recap the strong numbers and raise our forecasts for earnings and for S&P 500 fair value at year-end.
The highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up an overwhelming majority of the new cases in the U.S., bringing with it a rise in cases and hospitalizations. Widespread vaccine distribution and distancing measures have helped limit the variant’s impact, but we could still see some drag on economic growth as some restrictions are reintroduced and consumers potentially become more cautious. While we may see an increase in market volatility due to the Delta variant, we believe the S&P 500 is still likely to see more gains through the end of the year.
Last week was a huge news week, from the Fed, to gross domestic product (GDP), to a giant week of earnings reports. Below we review the big events from last week, while also looking ahead to what could be an eventful August for investors.
2021 has been a very strong year for both stocks and the economy, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some surprises. Below we take a look at some things that have happened so far in 2021 that have surprised the LPL Research team.
LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2021: Picking Up Speed is designed to help you navigate the risks and opportunities over the rest of 2021 and beyond. While the speed can be exhilarating as economic growth accelerates, it can also be dangerous. Midyear Outlook 2021 looks ahead for opportunities, but also watches for new hazards created by the reopening.
With the U.S. economy reopened, the growth rate may peak in second quarter 2021, but there is still plenty of momentum left to extend above-average growth into 2022. Inflation must be closely watched, but LPL Research believes recent price pressures are transitory, and that the strong economic recovery may continue to drive strong earnings growth and support further gains for stocks in the second half of 2021. The strong economic recovery and potentially higher inflation expectations may help push interest rates higher and lead to flat or potentially negative core bond returns in the second half.
The LPL Research team’s Midyear Outlook 2021 covers the economy, policy, stocks, and bonds. Prepare for a fast-paced second half with the economic insights and market guidance in LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2021: Picking Up Speed.
View the digital version: LPL Research Midyear Outlook 2021
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts may not develop as predicted. Please read the full Midyear Outlook 2021: Picking Up Speed publication for additional description and disclosure. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.
We ran out of superlatives to describe corporate America’s stunning performance during first-quarter earnings season. Despite lofty expectations, results exceeded expectations by one of the biggest margins ever. So what will companies do for an encore? We expect more good news this quarter as more of the economy has opened up, while also acknowledging the second quarter will almost certainly end up being the peak in earnings growth for this cycle. Here, we highlight what to watch.
Markets are off to a strong start this year, with the S&P 500 Index up about 14% so far. However, most of those gains came early in the year, and many stocks have stagnated over recent months. While we remain overweight on stocks relative to bonds, this week we explore three things that worry us—and could make the market more susceptible to a pullback as we enter the second half of 2021.