On only five occasions over this period has the S&P 500 given up more than 2 percent of its value in the final month and a half of the year. We’re not inclined to fight that seasonal record. Looking ahead to 2018, 65 weeks have passed since the S&P 500 last endured a correction of 2 percent or more. We’d be surprised if stocks don’t break this historic winning streak at some point in the first quarter of 2018.
We continue to see new market leaders emerging to carry stocks higher and expect the upside momentum to carry through the year’s end. Expect value stocks to benefit the most, leading us to add a strong value-oriented auto play to the portfolio.
Narrowing market leadership since April made us wonder whether the market could be due for a pullback. While a relatively small number of stocks powered the index to new highs, many small- and mid-capitalization names lagged over this period. As recently as mid-August, for example, fewer than 50 percent of the names listed on the NYSE traded above their 200-day moving average. Today, almost two-thirds of NYSE-listed stocks are in an uptrend, the highest proportion since April.
Many investors and the financial media tend to get bogged down by volatility and “noise” in economic data releases. We prefer to look at a handful of big-picture indicators that have stood the test of time. And these indicators point to continued strength in the economy.
While the risks of today’s low-volatility stock market are clear, we continue to believe the next sell-off in the broader market will be a correction, not the beginning of a new bear market. Look for a rotation out of the growth-oriented fare and into cyclical and value groups.
While the broader market looks strong on the surface, underlying trends have weakened considerably over the past six months. Accordingly, we believe a 5 to 10 percent pullback in the S&P 500 is likely in the final months of 2017. That correction will serve as an opportunity to add stocks to the Wealth Builders Portfolio.
The so-called FAANG stocks–Facebook, Amazon.com, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet–are up an average of 28.8 percent in 2017 compared to a 7.5 percent gain for the S&P 500. These large-cap names have paced the index’s gains so far this year. Should any or all of these stocks falter, the S&P 500 could quickly lose altitude.
With little sign the US is headed for recession by the middle of next year, there’s more upside for stocks this cycle. It’s dangerous to sell out too soon and miss out on the final months of the bull market.
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