Tread Carefully in Today’s Market Climate
It has been an interesting month for the stock market so far, especially considering we are only nine days in. We have seen a significant increase in volatility as compared with August. In general September tends to be a weaker month for the market, even without a weak economic backdrop. You may recall last month I discussed the importance of paying attention to the technical moving averages for the market. Moving averages act like a magnet, pulling markets back to them when they become grossly disconnected.
Last Wednesday, during my Midweek Market update I sounded the alarm that the NASDAQ was trading two standard deviations above its moving averages and that a pullback would be unavoidable. We were just too extended for it to be sustainable. The S&P 500 was also trading significantly above its averages, just not quite to the extent of the NASDAQ. The next day we began to experience a significant selloff across the market over the next three trading days. As of Tuesday’s close, the NASDAQ was down 10% and the S&P 500 was down 7%. Most importantly, both indexes are now sitting directly on their 50 day moving average. It is a good reminder that technicals really do matter in the stock market, even if emotional exuberance seems to say otherwise.
The level of greed and speculation occurring in the market makes some advisors have flashbacks to what happened back in the late 90s. Knowing what happened then and is happening now makes me uncomfortable. It feels like history is repeating itself in some ways. Markets remain extremely overvalued at the same time our country is experiencing significant economic weakness. Investor sentiment seems to be “the market can only go higher”. Call options are at all time highs, meaning that investors are “betting” that the market will go higher and not using any type of hedge in their portfolios against downside risk. Many were caught off guard these past few days as markets sold off quickly. Sadly, many inexperienced investors found out that trading options without understanding risk can sometimes turn around and bite you fast. It is important to understand that markets could absolutely turn lower, an additional correction of 10% would not be out of the question.
So what should investors do now? On Wednesday, the market was experiencing a bit of a reflexive rally, which is expected after such a sharp pullback. The question many ask is should I buy stocks now or should I wait? There is fine line between “buying the dip” and “trying to catch a falling knife”. As an investment committee we are concerned about technical data that indicates there could be some additional headwinds for the market, at least in the short term. So in short, we continue to tread carefully. Our five equity positions continue to perform strongly, outpacing the indexes. They also held up remarkably well over this past pullback, further reinforcing why using relative strength to choose your investments can help you outperform the markets. We will be adjusting our current allocations and adding asset classes once we have confirmation that this pullback is complete. We just do not want to try to handle this pullback like a teddy bear, and then find out it is actually a porcupine. As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions. I would love to talk to you. Have a wonderful day.
Ashley Rosser, President
Prior to her career in the financial services industry, Ashley earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Cedarville University.
Ashley decided to make a career change from her ten years within the healthcare industry as a pediatric emergency room nurse to retirement and 401K investment planning. She joined Victory Fiduciary Consulting in 2008 after obtaining her Series 65 professional financial license and went on to earn her AIF (Accredited Investment Fiduciary) professional designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies.