Probably Time for a Normal Market Pullback?
The markets got a lift in the third quarter from continued job gains and, surprisingly, a striking improvement in wage growth. Domestic politics and Brexit fallout didn’t seem to hurt much. The S&P 500 was up nearly 4% and the Dow up nearly 3% in the quarter. Balanced indices returned generally 2-3.5% in the quarter. U.S. bonds generally returned less than .5% but international bonds showed improvement, returning nearly 3%.
Q4 is starting off with a little more concern about stock valuations and bonds being vulnerable to a probable rate hike before year end. As well, the markets seem somewhat uncertain about potential power shifts in congress as a result of the elections and the effects on big banks, pharma and biotech.
Both stocks and bonds have sold off some since the end of Q3 and we could be in for continued weakness leading up to the holidays. However, assuming the current earnings season is not worse than expected, consumers remain buoyant going into the holidays, and oil prices stay near current levels, we feel we’re probably seeing a normal market pullback.
It continues to be a good time to clean out underperformers in fixed income and equities, as well as lightening up on positions that have become too big in portfolios. At the same time let’s keep our eyes open for good entry points in quality equities and fixed income. The goal is a high quality, long term, diversified portfolio.