Stocks continued their historic decline in the second quarter. The S&P 500 realized its worst first-half performance since 1970 as headwinds of high inflation and sharply rising interest rates combined with growing recession risks and geopolitical unrest rocked the markets.
Stocks have faced numerous headwinds during the past three months, including a resurgence in COVID cases, the Federal Reserve moving aggressively to end the current Quantitative Easing (QE) program, and a lack of additional stimulus from Washington. This caused a thinning of the general market where a few names have helped to hold the average near all-time highs while large rotations have left the average equity in a bear market.
Another COVID Wave Fails To Derail the Rally in the Third Quarter
The S&P 500 hit new all-time highs again in the third quarter as investors looked past a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and instead focused on the positive combination of a resilient economic recovery, ongoing historic support from the Federal Reserve, and strong corporate earnings. Market volatility did notably pick up during the final few weeks of September, however, reminding investors that the transition to a post-pandemic “new normal” isn’t always going to be smooth.
Stocks Hit New High as the Pandemic Recedes
The S&P 500 rose to another record high during the second quarter as a substantial decline in U.S. COVID-19 cases combined with a near-total economic reopening across the country led a surge in economic growth that helped stocks rally to new highs over the past three months.
A Strong Start to the New Year
The first quarter of 2021 was marked by several macro- and micro-economic surprises that resulted in increased market volatility compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, but additional economic stimulus combined with accelerating COVID-19 vaccine distribution and a decline in coronavirus cases helped stocks start the new year with solid gains.
Vaccine Optimism Paves the Way for More Record Highs
The most tumultuous year in recent memory ended on a high note for markets as the fourth quarter brought political and medical clarity, and that resulted in substantial market gains over the past three months which helped to make 2020 a surprisingly strong year for market returns.
A Historic Market Recovery
We hope that this letter finds you safe and healthy during these still-unprecedented times.
2020 continued to be one of the most unpredictable years in memory, as markets rose to new all-time highs in the third quarter despite a resurgence in coronavirus cases, as stocks rallied thanks to a combination of even more accommodative Fed policy, hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine and a stronger-than-expected economic rebound, before markets declined moderately from those highs in mid-September.
Markets Stage A Big Recovery in the Second Quarter
We hope that this letter finds you safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.
Markets staged a historic rebound in the second quarter driven by an initial peak in the growth of coronavirus infections in April; economic re-openings across the United States and the rest of the world, hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine, and continued stimulus from global central banks, including the Federal Reserve.
Investors Endure Historic Volatility in the First Quarter
First and foremost, we hope this letter finds you, your family and loved ones healthy and safe.
Market volatility surged in the first quarter to levels last seen more than a decade ago during the financial crisis, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and prompted the partial shutdown of most major global economies, including the U.S., EU and most of Asia.
Macroeconomic Clarity Leads to the Best Performance Since 2013
Markets welcomed the positive resolution of several key macroeconomic unknowns in the fourth quarter, and that improved clarity sent the broader stock market higher over the past three months. The solid fourth quarter gains helped the S&P 500 index achieve its best annual return since 2013.
Markets Remain Resilient Despite More Volatility
Markets in the third quarter of 2019 looked surprisingly similar to the second quarter as more U.S.-China trade war uncertainty and a lack of clarity on future interest rate policy caused a sharp increase in volatility in the middle of the quarter, but the S&P 500 remained resilient and ultimately recouped those losses to finish the quarter not far from the new all-time highs established in late July.
Trade Uncertainty and Expected Fed Rate Cuts Make for a Volatile Quarter
Historically typical volatility returned in the second quarter as uncertainty regarding U.S.-China trade relations, future Federal Reserve interest rate policy, and the state of the U.S. and global economies caused a more-than-6% pullback in the S&P 500 during May, before stocks broadly recovered in June and finished the quarter near fresh all-time highs.
A Strong Start to the Year, But Risks Remain
Stocks rebounded strongly in the first quarter thanks to a combination of improving U.S.-China trade relations, the Federal Reserve halting interest rate increases, and a better outlook for corporate earnings. The S&P 500 finished the first quarter of 2019 with the best quarterly return since 2009.
Market Correction: What Happened and What’s Next
A decade of consecutive positive annual returns from the S&P 500 ended in 2018. In the final three months of the year the S&P 500 registered its worst quarterly performance in seven years and ended 2018 with a negative annual total return for the first time since 2008.
A Strong Economy Helps Power Markets to New Highs
The third quarter was the best-performing quarter for markets so far this year as the major U.S. stock indices each hit new all-time highs. The broad market gains were driven by strong economic data, solid earnings growth and improved clarity on global trade.