A Quick Note on Market Volatility

David B. Armstrong, CFA Weekly Market Commentary

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I don’t think the best search engine optimization practice is to recommend the real title I wanted to use: “Shit Happens…Often.” But including it in the body is probably good enough, eh?

Man, I suspect we will be seeing a lot of “Sell in May” references by the time this month is over.  Heading into today, the S&P 500 is already down over 4% for May and we still have three trading days to go. Considering today’s weak market, I’m betting we could see a 5% decline for the month.

In contrast to the equity market, Treasuries have been doing well.  The Bank of America / Merrill Lynch index of long-term notes, which basically looks at Treasuries that are 10-year and longer in maturity, U.S. Treasuries are up over 4% for May.  A 4% monthly decline for equities isn’t that rare…According to Bespoke, there have been 40 prior occurrences since 1990.  However, when it’s accompanied by a rally in U.S. Treasuries of this degree, it’s a lot less common.  They also note that “since 1990, there have only been ten other months where the S&P 500 was down more than 4% heading into the final three trading days of the month while at the same time long-term U.S. Treasuries were up over 4%.”

They go on to say that there is usually a rally when that happens, but I don’t think anyone should be pegging any hope on that.

The real issue is the economy.  People sell stocks and buy bonds when they speculate that the economy will do poorly.  I believe the basis for this slowing economy sentiment is grounded in the China trade issue.

Okay look, I get it. China news gets everyone speculating that there could be a slowdown, and frankly it could be true.  But I don’t think it’s a tradable event.  What’s different today than a month ago? Rhetoric out of both governments?  That’s saber rattling until it’s not.

For now, I still see MONCON 5.  I see nothing in the model suggesting that we are in a recession nor do I see data that suggest we are within six months of a recession.  It’s true that headwinds have picked up, but a slowing economy is no where near the same thing as a negative economy (recession).

MONCON_Recession_5

Actually, the most interesting data I see that feeds into MONCON is the massive uptick in Google search volume for the word “recession.” Since that’s the only thing that’s up-ticking, I think it’s indicative of some emotional response to the news cycle.

Sit tight right now – don’t react to this month’s poor equity market performance.  Remember to anticipate your cash needs and as always…

Keep looking forward.

Dave

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About the Author
David B. Armstrong, CFA

David B. Armstrong, CFA

David B. Armstrong, CFA, is a President and Co-Founder of Monument Wealth Management. Along with his role as the firm’s chief investment strategist and portfolio manager, Armstrong is viewed as an industry leader in several areas including innovative practice management, discretionary asset management, digital marketing and social media. Dave is the writer of Monument Wealth Management's weekly "Off the Wall" Financial Blog and Market Commentary, and is frequently sought after by journalists and event coordinators. Visit his full biography here.

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