Market Brief March 23 2020

Last week was the worst week the stock markets have seen since 2008. Continued developments of the coronavirus dominated the news, as the number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 15,000. This news left the indexes in a downward free fall. The three major indexes all finished down between 14-17% for the week ending March 20. The increase in cases is also getting the attention of life insurance, as I wrote about last week and you can read it here. Forget gold and oil as great market hedges, the future is now in toilet paper and hand sanitizer! (Just kidding).

To no surprise, economic data last week disappointed. China sales and industrial production was down double digits compared to last year. German economic sentiment also fell to the lowest on record. The lone bright spot from last week, was U.S. sales. For the month of February, U.S. retail sales came in 4.35% higher compared to last year. New home sales dropped for the month, while existing home sales jumped 6.5%. The existing home sales grew to the highest level since 2007, proving the real estate market was on solid ground prior to the virus outbreak.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead will be focused on stimulus news in the U.S., as well as, the flattening of the coronavirus infection curve. Wednesday’s durable goods order report is expected to be positive. However, this could be the last positive report we see for awhile, as business and productivity slows during the state ordered or self-mandated quarantine phases. Thursday’s unemployment claim report will likely soar, as businesses cut staff and hours for workers.

Big Picture and Recovery

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 32.81%, S&P down 28.66%, and Nasdaq down 23.3%. According to Wilshire, this is approximately $12 trillion of wealth that has evaporated. Due to the recent domestic productivity halt, most banks have cut 2nd Quarter growth outlooks significantly. Goldman Sachs has revised their 2nd Quarter outlook to -24%, while J.P. Morgan cut their outlook to -14%.

The consensus for recovery is based on three outcomes. First, how quickly will the virus be contained. Second, whether businesses will have access to enough liquidity, or capital, over the next 90-180 days. And lastly, whether the fiscal stimulus can stabilize growth forecasts. Until then, volatility looks to remain high and sensitive to the latest news stemming from the virus developments and economic impacts.

Keep your distance, share the TP, and continue to wash your hands this week!

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