Dear Mr. Market:
Have you seen the movie “Groundhog Day”? If you haven’t it’s comedy-fantasy from 1993 starring Bill Murray. In this movie he portrayed a Pittsburgh weatherman who was on assignment to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Murray’s character ends up being stuck in a time loop where no matter what he does he ends up repeating the same day again and again.
Until just the past couple of days it feels like the stock market was also trapped in some sort of Groundhog Day paradigm. We have not experienced a correction in over 15 months and no matter what the headline the results on the markets where the same as the day prior; green, positive tickers, and smooth sailing. We just saw the best January in 20 years after a year where the S&P 500 recorded a positive return every single month for the first time ever. All these records transpired with the lowest market volatility ever. So what just happened?
Did the groundhog pop his head out and cast a different shadow than anyone was expecting? No…not really. Everyone we know (layman or expert) has been saying eventually it would end. Nothing keeps going up forever. While we disagree with lightweight analysis that stocks are overvalued, the bull market eventually has to take a breather in order to make a final push higher. There is no recession in sight so what we’re finally seeing is a long overdue correction.
What is a stock market correction?
It’s been so long that it might be helpful to refresh your memory! First and foremost, you must recall that prior to Groundhog Day (sorry…couldn’t resist!), stock market corrections happened all the time! On average they occur once every 357 days, or at least once a year. They’re part of the economic and stock market cycle and for a healthy market to advance you actually should want to see them pull back every so often. We have strong fundamentals right now and things are trending in the right direction otherwise we wouldn’t be minimizing this recent market action.
By definition a correction is -10%. (a pullback being in the -5% range) A full on bear market is where we would see -20% or more from peak to through. With the average correction, not only can it not be predicted, but by the time people figure it out it’s too late and the market is back to moving higher. Continue reading