Coming into 2020, many investors and analysts were expecting increased market volatility given it was a presidential election year. On top of that, the prior year delivered stellar returns with the S&P 500 Total Return Index up 31.49%. With that backdrop, investors were unnerved and many contemplated selling their holdings and going to cash. Not very long into the year, news broke out of a virus in China, but the U.S. markets shrugged it off as an isolated event and markets continued forward to make new highs. It was not until it was announced that the virus was turning up in Europe and people infected had no direct contact with anyone from China that then the markets began to realize this was not an isolated event.
Two giant companies had extremely successful initial public offerings this week. DoorDash, the food delivery service business, ended their first day of trading with an 85% increase, and Airbnb, the online vacation rental company, skyrocketed 112%.
A unicorn is a common business term used to describe privately held startup companies valued at more than $1 billion. To be on this list is quite the accomplishment, but it does not do justice to the market capitalization of DoorDash, which closed its first day of trading with a fully diluted market cap of $72B and Airbnb with a fully diluted market cap of over $100M[i]
The third quarter has ended following a roller-coaster ride of volatility for investors. Be that as it may, the S&P 500 returned an impressive 8.47% during this period. August saw the best month dating back to the mid-1980’s, and while the markets tumbled in September down 3.92%, it finished off the month with a rally of almost 4% during the last five trading days of the quarter.
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The month of September continues to bring us increased volatility and a down market. Through Thursday’s market close, the S&P 500 is down 7.15% and now putting the index up only 1.90% Total Return year-to-date. This has led investors to ask if this is the beginning of a big market sell off.
Inflation is a topic that is starting to get more attention on Wall Street. The Federal Reserve and Congress took strong measures to combat the rapid decrease in economic output caused by COVID-19. The Fed implemented many programs available to struggling businesses, while the government passed a massive stimulus package to help many individual Americans. This coordinated approach is expected to prop the economy during these difficult times and help speed the recovery. However, investors are now asking if these actions may have consequences down the line through higher inflation levels.
The S&P 500 hit another milestone this week closing higher than the all-time high set February 19, 2020. At that time, nobody knew that the index would drop 33.9% in just a few short weeks, setting a historical record for the fastest decrease of its kind that ended the longest bull market in history. Fast forward five months, and here we are setting yet another record, but this time for the shortest bear market in history.
With less than 90 days until the 2020 U.S. presidential election, it is natural to inquire how the stock market might react to a change in administration. The U.S. stock market benefited from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 when the highest corporate tax rate decreased from 35% to 21%. Investors are now asking if Joe Biden becomes the next president and follows through with his plan to increase corporate taxes, will the market give up all the gains from the tax cuts?
We are approaching our 6-month anniversary of our partnership with CI Financial. While the investment landscape is much different than we expected, we are certainly thankful to have significantly improved our financial strength and research, at a time many companies have faced unprecedented challenges.