It took just under five months for it to happen. On August 17th, the S&P 500 closed at 3389.78—an all-time record. That record is also significant because it means the index officially recouped all losses from the downturn that happened in March.1
This year has been a rollercoaster ride for investors. The S&P 500 dropped 33.92% from February 19 to March 23 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Since March 23, the index has increased 51.51%, triggering a new bull market.2
However, a sharp increase in the stock market doesn’t mean the U.S. economy is out of the woods. In fact, other metrics would indicate that the economy is still struggling. In the second quarter, gross domestic product contracted at an annual rate of 32.9%, the largest quarterly contraction on record. That contraction is more than three times the previous record—a 10% contraction in 1958.3
Also, not all sectors of the stock market have participated in the recovery. The increase over the last five months has been fueled by growth in the Information Technology (IT) and Consumer Discretionary sectors, each of which are up more than 23% year-to-date. However, other sectors, particularly Financials and Energy, are negative on the year. In fact, of the 11 S&P 500 Sectors, five are still negative on the year.4
The 4th Quarter is historically the best quarter for S&P 500 performance, with the index up an average of 3.51% from October through December over the past 30 years.5 However, 2020 is not like other years. There are factors and risks that could threaten the market’s recovery. Below are a couple things to watch as the year comes to a close:
We’re only a couple months away from the election, as if 2020 needed more uncertainty. Everyone has their own preferred candidate. However, some investment managers are saying the real risk isn’t one of the candidates winning, it’s an unclear outcome.
Bridgewater Associates, which manages more than $140 billion, recently told clients the real risk is if there is “material concern over the legitimacy of the process.” Analysis of recent options transactions show that many investors are taking protective stances through January 2021, possibly an indication they are concerned about post-election volatility.6
However, UBS notes that post-election volatility is often short-lived. They point to the most recent example of an election with an unclear winner—the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. During that time, the S&P 500 fell around 6% in the weeks after the election as litigation mounted. However, those losses were erased as soon as the election reached resolution.7
Of course, the other major risk to the economy and financial markets in the fourth quarter is developments related to COVID. The pandemic is now in its seventh month. As of mid-August, the death toll in the United States exceeded 168,000, with more than 5 million confirmed cases.8
The development of a vaccine in the fourth quarter could deliver a boost to the economy. The government has implemented Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to deliver 300 million vaccines by January. Moderna has a vaccine in phase 3 trials, but it is uncertain whether the company will be able to meet the government’s target date.8
Ready to protect your portfolio from fourth quarter uncertainty? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Carstens Financial Group. We can analyze your needs and goals and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 20365 – 2020/8/20
As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its seventh month, leaders in Washington are debating a second stimulus bill. On August 8, President Trump signed executive orders that extended the federal unemployment benefit, but reduced the amount from $600 per week to $400. The orders also suspended the payroll tax through the end of the year, and suspended interest on federal student loans.1
However, even as President Trump signed the orders, Republicans and Democrats continued to negotiate terms for a second stimulus package. Democrats support a $3 trillion package known as the HEROES Act, while Republicans have their own $1 trillion HEALS Act.1
It’s unclear whether the final bill will include direct stimulus payments to Americans. Both Republicans and Democrats have endorsed the idea. However, it’s difficult to predict at this point what stimulus payments may be included in the final legislation.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID, the election, and the overall economy, the financial markets continue to climb. After suffering deep losses earlier in the year, two of the three major market indexes are in positive territory. Through August 10, all index year-to-date returns are:
S&P 500: 3.53%2
While the markets have mostly recovered from their losses earlier in the year, volatility can strike at any time. That’s especially true should the COVID pandemic worsen or if the economy suffers continued damage. There also may be increasing uncertainty as the election approaches.
If you're concerned about risk, let’s talk about it. There are a wide range of strategies and tools we can implement to minimize risk and help protect your financial future. Let’s connect today and discuss your needs, goals and concerns. At Carstens Financial Group, we welcome the opportunity to help you implement the right strategy for your objectives.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 20363 – 2020/8/20
Life can change quickly. Emergencies and unexpected costs can happen at any time. You could lose your job and suffer through a stretch of unemployment. You could suffer an injury or illness that results in substantial medical costs. You may experience home damage or costly car repairs. These things and more are all common challenges for many households. That’s why an emergency fund is such a critical component of any financial plan.
Unfortunately, many Americans have little or no savings. A new study found that 66 million Americans have zero emergency savings. Another study found that 47 percent of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money or selling something.1
Why do so many Americans lack savings? They may struggle with debt and be unable to meet their standards. They may have a standard of living that’s well beyond their means. Or they may simply think that an emergency won’t happen to them.
Is retirement quickly approaching? If so, you may be in the final stages of wrapping up your career and planning your income strategy. You might be assessing your investments, considering when to file for Social Security or even reviewing your Medicare options.
One critical step is the creation of your retirement budget. A budget is always helpful, but it’s especially important in retirement. You can use it to analyze your spending and make informed buying decisions. It can also help you stay on track so you meet your long-term saving and spending goals.
Are you determined to make 2018 the year you get your retirement planning back on track? If you feel like you’re behind on your retirement savings efforts, don’t worry. You have company. A 2017 Gallup study found that more than half of Americans are worried that they won’t be able to afford retirement.1
The good news is it’s never too late to course-correct if you feel like you’re behind or off-track on your planning. A few simple changes may be all that’s necessary to get you back on track to live the retirement you’ve always imagined.
The new year is here. It’s the perfect time to analyze your financial situation and develop a list of action items. A regular annual financial checkup can help you stay on top of potential risks and on track to meet your biggest financial goals.
Ready to start your year with a financial review? Below are three questions to ask yourself as you perform your annual financial review. A financial professional can help you conduct a detailed, comprehensive analysis.
For many, New Year’s is a time to look to the future and start fresh. It’s a time to set goals and chart a new course. You may be looking at your family’s finances as one area where you can implement new habits and strategies. Perhaps you’ve fallen behind on your savings or feel that you may be too exposed to risk. The new year might be the right time to analyze your current situation and make changes.
Carstens Financial Group focuses on providing comprehensive asset management, estate planning and life insurance solutions. Allow us to help you secure your financial future.