The major U.S. equity indexes finished slightly lower last week. Early gains stemming from plans to ease lockdown restrictions and optimistic COVID-19 treatment news gave way as the week progressed to downbeat economic and earnings updates as well as increasing tensions between the U.S. and China. The S&P 500 Index declined to a level of 2,831, representing a 0.19% loss, for the week. Although lagging year-to-date, smaller capitalized companies, represented by the Russell Midcap and Russell 2000 Indexes, had a strong showing, advancing 0.83% and 2.24%, respectively. International equities also fared well last week as both developed and emerging markets finished in the green, returning 3.11% and 4.27% respectively. Finally, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield settled in at 0.64% to end the week.
Not only did April mark the first month of gains for the S&P 500 Index in 2020, but the index also posted it’s best monthly performance in 33 years, advancing 12.82% for the month. The month could very well go down as one of the best months for stocks, and weakest for the economy, simultaneously. In April, businesses remained closed, jobless claims climbed to 30 million for the pandemic period, stay-at-home orders were largely still in place, oil prices continued to plummet, and earnings and GDP forecasts continued to be revised lower. Yet, the market still advanced 12.82% in April.
To understand how the market could move higher when the economy is seemingly spiraling downward, it is important to understand that while the stock market and the economy are intertwined, they are profoundly different. The stock market is generally a discounting mechanism because investors are always looking forward and prices are always adjusting according to the anticipation of future events. On the other hand, the economy is more typically measured by what is happening over the short-term and with recently reported data. This difference is why market recoveries usually lead economic recoveries, and vice-versa, and can help provide investors with insight into what happened in April.
The recent exceptional market performance may imply that April will mark the lows of COVID-19 pandemic-induced economic activity as Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs, was reported on Bloomberg on May 4, stating that, “Economic activity has probably bottomed now.” Additionally, the case for marginally higher equity prices is being strengthened across the globe as the number of new daily cases continues to decline, central banks and governments are providing stimulus and support, economies are starting to slowly re-open, and encouraging news regarding testing and treatment out of the healthcare sector. Still, risk remains elevated and another pull-back remains a real possibility, largely dependant on COVID-19 and employment-related data. As a result, we encourage investors to stay disciplined and work with experienced financial professionals to help manage their portfolios through various market cycles within an appropriately diversified framework that is consistent with their objectives, time-frame, and tolerance for risk.
We recognize that these are very troubling and uncertain times and we want you to know that we are here for you to help in any way that we can.
Sources: Sources for data in tables: Equity Market and Fixed Income returns are from JP Morgan as of 05/01/2020. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 05/01/2020. International developed markets measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, emerging markets measured by the MSCI EM Index. Sector performance is measured using GICS methodology.
Important Information and Disclaimers
Disclosures: Past performance does not guarantee future results. We have taken this information from sources that we believe to be reliable and accurate. Hennion and Walsh cannot guarantee the accuracy of said information and cannot be held liable. You cannot invest directly in an index. Diversification can help mitigate the risk and volatility in your portfolio but does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss. Hennion & Walsh is the sponsor of SmartTrust® Unit Investment Trusts (UITs). For more information on SmartTrust® UITs, please visit www.smarttrustuit.com. The overview above is for informational purposes and is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any SmartTrust® UITs. Investors should consider the Trust’s investment objective, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other information relevant to an investment in the Trust and investors should read the prospectus carefully before they invest.
Investing in foreign securities presents certain risks not associated with domestic investments, such as currency fluctuation, political and economic instability, and different accounting standards. This may result in greater share price volatility. These risks are heightened in emerging markets.
There are special risks associated with an investment in real estate, including credit risk, interest rate fluctuations and the impact of varied economic conditions. Distributions from REIT investments are taxed at the owner’s tax bracket.
The prices of small company and mid cap stocks are generally more volatile than large company stocks. They often involve higher risks because smaller companies may lack the management expertise, financial resources, product diversification and competitive strengths to endure adverse economic conditions.
Investing in commodities is not suitable for all investors. Exposure to the commodities markets may subject an investment to greater share price volatility than an investment in traditional equity or debt securities. Investments in commodities may be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity index volatility, changes in interest rates or factors affecting a particular industry or commodity.
Products that invest in commodities may employ more complex strategies which may expose investors to additional risks.
Investing in fixed income securities involves certain risks such as market risk if sold prior to maturity and credit risk especially if investing in high yield bonds, which have lower ratings and are subject to greater volatility. All fixed income investments may be worth less than original cost upon redemption or maturity. Bond Prices fluctuate inversely to changes in interest rates. Therefore, a general rise in interest rates can result in the decline of the value of your investment.
MSCI- EAFE: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australasia and Far East Index, a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed-market equity performance, excluding the United States and Canada.
MSCI-Emerging Markets: The Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Market Index, is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the performance of global emerging markets of about 25 emerging economies.
Russell 3000: The Russell 3000 measures the performance of the 3000 largest US companies based on total market capitalization and represents about 98% of the investible US Equity market.
ML BOFA US Corp Mstr [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Corporate Master Market Index is a statistical composite tracking the performance of the entire US corporate bond market over time.
ML Muni Master [Merill Lynch US Corporate Master]: The Merrill Lynch Municipal Bond Master Index is a broad measure of the municipal fixed income market.
Investors cannot directly purchase any index.
LIBOR, London Interbank Offered Rate, is the rate of interest at which banks offer to lend money to one another in the wholesale money markets in London.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unweighted index of 30 “blue-chip” industrial U.S. stocks.
The S&P Midcap 400 Index is a capitalization-weighted index measuring the performance of the mid-range sector of the U.S. stock market, and represents approximately 7% of the total market value of U.S. equities. Companies in the Index fall between S&P 500 Index and the S&P SmallCap 600 Index in size: between $1-4 billion.
DJ Equity REIT Index represents all publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the Dow Jones U.S. stock universe classified as Equity REITs according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices REIT Industry Classification Hierarchy. These companies are REITs that primarily own and operate income-producing real estate.