Sometimes you just wake up feeling cranky. That was the essence of the stock market today.
The S&P 500 just dropped the most since June 11. There were no major headlines or obvious triggers for the sudden drop. Investors just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
That didn’t make the market action any less painful, though. When it was all said and done, all 11 S&P 500 sectors ended the day lower. Technology shares slid 5.2%, their worst day since March.
Days like these can take a toll on your emotions. We’re already living in a world of uncertainty, and swift drops can make you wonder if we’re on the cusp of another historic market event (like the one we lived through just six months ago).
Try to keep things in perspective, though. The S&P 500 rose 7% last month, its best August since 1986, and it kept the gains going in the first two days of September. Even with today’s drop, we’re still about 2% above the peak we reached in February and 3.5% from a record high.
The stock market has been resilient these past few months, and we’ve been encouraged by some of the recent economic data and corporate earnings reports. Most signs point to an economic recovery, too.
But investors may have gotten ahead of themselves. Stocks are still noticeably untethered from how fragile U.S. consumers and businesses are. The S&P 500 is trading at 24.8 times earnings expectations for 12 months from now, higher than its historical average of 16.3 times. The market looks expensive given the weakness we’ve seen in corporate America.
We’re also staring down a host of market obstacles from now until the end of the year: stimulus uncertainty, budget negotiations, Presidential debates, corporate conferences, and the election. The next few months could be rocky.
It’s tough to say if this selloff is a blip on the radar, or the start of something bigger. The lack of a catalyst for today’s selloff makes us think this could just be a temporary mood swing. The Federal Reserve’s unwavering help and the chance for positive news on a coronavirus vaccine, the economy, or fiscal stimulus may help stocks bounce back.
As always, we urge you to ignore the noise and keep your eyes on your investing goals if you don’t need to cash out in the next few years. If you’re getting nervous, though, it may be a good time to rethink your positions and take some gains.
The opinions expressed here are not meant to be used as investing advice. For more information, visit our website.
Lindsey Bell is Ally’s Chief Investment Strategist, responsible for shaping the company’s point of view on investing and the global markets. She is also President of Ally Invest Advisors, responsible for its robo advisory offerings. Lindsey has a broad background in finance, with experience on the buy-side and sell-side, in research and in investment banking and has held roles at JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Jefferies, and CFRA Research.
Lindsey holds a passion for teaching individuals how to become successful long-term investors. She is a contributor at CNBC, and frequently shares her insights with various publications including the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, BusinessInsider, etc. She also serves on the board of Better Investing, a non-profit organization focused on investment education.