Cliff Young, a 61-year-old potato farmer, shuffled down the highway for over five days straight to win a grueling 543-mile ultra marathon in 1983. It was his first race, and he ran it wearing overalls and work boots, beating the next runner by 10 hours. He beat the best athletes in the world who were half his age because while they stopped each day to rest, he never did. He ran nonstop, shuffling along slowly but surely, just like the stocks did the last couple of years.
Little by little, the S&P 500 index, often called the “the market,” hit a new all-time high. It took longer than usual at over two years, but it finally hit a new peak on Friday, January 19, 2024. The new high came after stocks stumbled out of the gate to start 2024, but the S&P 500 has found its footing and broke out to hit a record high.
This new high seems a little sweeter to investors because of the bumpy ride they had to endure to get here. The stock market’s negative returns in 2022 were the worst since the Great Recession. Frankly, most of 2023 didn’t feel that much better.
There were 512 trading days from peak (January 3, 2022) to peak (January 19, 2024). Of those, 263 ended the day with negative returns, and 249 days were positive. The market hit its bottom on October 12, 2022, when the S&P 500 finished negative 25% from the previous high. Things started turning around on October 30, 2023, when the Fed signaled, they had finished raising rates.
So now what happens? No one can know for sure, but we can look at history for some insights.
The longer-than-normal stretch between highs (the average time from peak to peak is 289 days, or about nine months) suggests above-average returns going forward. Historically, when stocks have had at least one year between new S&P 500 highs, over 90% of the time the market has been positive a year later, with an average rate of return of almost 12%, according to LPL.
While this new record high for stocks is encouraging, investors will need to keep an eye on the overall backdrop of the economy and markets. As you know, things can change quickly, especially during an election year. In the accounts I’m managing, I am in a neutral weighting to stocks with a slight lean toward large-cap growth stocks. With the world in a slight mess, I am also overweighting to domestic versus international stocks until an opportunity presents itself.
Cliff Young’s family didn’t have a horse, so when storms scattered their sheep, he would run nonstop for up to three days to gather their 2,000 sheep. He shuffled along in the marathon at the same slow pace he used on the farm. So, while he dressed like he had just come from the field, this proverbial tortoise broke the race’s all-time record. I hope stocks keep shuffling along like Cliff Young and keeps setting new record highs.
Have a blessed week!
Opinions voiced above are for general information only & not intended as specific advice or recommendations for any person. All performance cited is historical & is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested directly.
The economic forecast outlined in this material may not develop as predicted & there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
Fervent Wealth Management is a financial management and services entity in Springfield, Missouri.