VIDEO: Is This The Year for a Bull Market?
Welcome to my latest video presentation. The article below is a transcript edited for concision; for additional details and several charts, watch my video.
The month of May has just started. There’s a familiar Wall Street aphorism and you’ve probably heard it: “Sell in May and go away.” It’s a catchy phrase that rhymes. But is it legitimate advice?
There’s a pre-conceived notion that the stock market loses steam during the summer months, as investors and Wall Street insiders go on vacation. But the evidence suggests otherwise.
Over the last 40 years, the average return for the stock market from May to August was 3.2%, which isn’t a blockbuster gain but neither would you want to pass it up. The market was higher in 75% of those summer periods, with the best May through August gain generated in 2020 (+21%). The worst periods were in 1998 (-14%) and 2002 (-14%).
Over the last four decades, the month of May has witnessed a stock market gain 71% of the time, with an average monthly total return of 0.8%. In those years when the stock market climbed in May, it went on to notch a gain for the full summer 88% of the time, with an average return of 7.4%.
The upshot: “Sell in May and go away” is clever wordplay, but lousy investment advice.
The major U.S, stock market indices closed last week higher, as S&P 500 corporate earnings came in better-than-expected and the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge showed that inflation continues to soften.
The U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index took another month-over-month dip, to 4.2% in March from 5.1% in February and 5.4% in January. Inflation is still too high, but the PCE data cheered investors.
To be sure, The U.S. economy is slowing, as evidenced by last week’s release of the latest U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) report. GDP decelerated to 1.1% in the first quarter, compared with 2.6% in the previous quarter and 3.2% in the quarter before that.
However, household spending, the primary driver of the economy, increased at a robust 3.7% rate last quarter, considerably above the average of 1.7% over the previous four quarters. This spending should keep the economic from falling into a sharp recession.
Corporate earnings reports occupied center stage last week, with markets getting a lift from better-than-feared results.
For Q1 2023, with 53% of S&P 500 companies so far reporting actual results, 79% of S&P 500 companies has reported a positive earnings surprise and 74% have reported a positive revenue surprise (according to FactSet, as of April 28).
For Q1 2023, the blended earnings decline for the S&P 500 is -3.7%. If that number is the actual decline for the quarter, it will mark the second straight quarter that the index has reported a decline in earnings.
But consider this: On March 31, the estimated earnings decline for Q1 2023 was -6.7%. Ten sectors are reporting higher earnings today, compared to March 31, because of positive earnings surprises. The banking and technology sectors, in particular, have surprised on the upside.
That’s not to say the banking sector is completely beyond its crisis. Regulators seized control of First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) and sold it to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) on Monday, fueling volatility in financial markets.
But the fact is, the stock market already has priced in a mild recession. Wall Street will soon start to place a greater focus on the accelerating recovery…that’s my view, anyway. Now’s the time to position your portfolio for the upswing.
The week ahead…
Here are the salient economic reports scheduled in the coming days:
S&P manufacturing PMI, ISM manufacturing, construction spending (Monday); U.S. job openings, factory orders (Tuesday); ADP employment, S&P U.S. services PMI, ISM services, Federal Reserve interest rate statement, and Fed Chief Jerome Powell press conference (Wednesday); U.S. productivity, U.S. trade deficit, initial jobless claims (Thursday); U.S. employment rate and hourly wages (Friday).
The big news will be the Fed’s policy decision on Wednesday. In the meantime, want to turbocharge your portfolio under these conditions? Consider Rapier’s Income Accelerator, helmed by my colleague Robert Rapier.
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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.
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This article originally appeared on Investing Daily.