In 2013, the market had one of its best years ever. The broad market, as represented by the S&P 500 index, was up 29.6%. Typically, after a strong year, the market will continue on its course. After a nearly unbroken upward climb since March 6, 2009, one of the longest bull markets in history, the market was due for a pause, maybe even a correction (defined as a 10% drop). This year the market continued to reach all-time highs and then took a breather. The market appears tired, but its current pause so far appears in character and no cause to panic.
The market had a remarkable year last year, gaining 32.39% in the S&P 500 index. To put it in perspective, the S&P 500 has gained over 20% in a calendar year 21 times since 1945 that is 21 times out of 68 years, or almost 31 % of the time. This amazing statistic is reason enough for remaining fully invested in the market. Even when times are grim, and the market is off, one should remain invested. In the same 68 year period, the market has gained over 30% just six times. Still this almost 10% records of gains is also a strong argument for staying invested.
Client Newsletter -– Quarter Ending September 30, 2013
The third quarter of 2013 saw a continuation of the robust market that this year has brought. In spite of worries, mostly over government problems, unemployment, and fears over Federal Reserve policy, the markets have risen to record or near record territory. Both the S&P and the Russell 200 are at all-time highs. The NASDAQ is at a 13 year high (but still 29% off its all-time highs). That the markets have been able to climb this wall of worry is a good sign, not only because returns are good, but it is a good situation because worries have kept the markets from being overly exuberant. I have detailed the stresses in the markets in previous columns and letters, so it is not necessary to review them again, but it is encouraging that the markets have surmounted these worries.
History shows that investors lose far more money as a result of their own actions than markets lose for them.
As markets reach new all-time highs, investors who “stayed the course” have benefited from the long running bull market.
Since 2009, when the broad market S&P index hit its low of 667, we have seen a substantial increase in value, with the Dow rising from 6,470 to 15,035, and S&P from 667 to 1,606 and the NASDAQ from 1,265 to 3,422. The market has been up 17 consecutive quarters from the low. This was a rally that no one trusted and few liked, but proved its resilience. Those who pulled to the side lines missed this huge rally.
As I reported to you last week, effective April 14, 2013, I repurchased my firm from Nevada Trust/Meadows Corp, who bought the firm last year. I did this because it was the right thing to do for our clients. Jim and I are very happy to have the firm back. We will continue to run the firm in the manner to which you are accustomed. If you have any questions, please call us and we will be happy to answer them. We will soon be sending you documents to sign, because regulations require that we have new signatures on file.
Calendar year 2012 was a difficult year for the markets by nearly every measure but the one that counts. Globally economic and political problems in Asia, Europe, and the US dominated the news. Investors were force fed a diet of bad news and troubles.
US equity markets have staged a strong rally since their low point in June 1, 2012. At that time investors feared a global recession, Europe was facing disaster and the general outlook was one of despondency. The market closed at 1278.04 on June 1, 2012. Since that time, in a stealth rally, the broad market has risen 12.7% through the end of the third quarter 2012. The market closed at 1440.67 September 30, 2012. In September alone usually the worst month for markets, the S&P rose 2.6% and the Nasdaq 1.6%. The Dow logged 2.75%.
My apologies for the tardiness of this letter, but I have been in Europe for a few weeks, sojourning, but also gathering information. I did not have any high level meetings, it wasn’t that kind of trip. One can get the flavor of macro thinking almost daily from news reports, not that I think they are accurate, but they do give a sense. I found European people on the street in a bit of a funk but still up beat. I was mainly in the former eastern block countries, so they have been used to turmoil and an upswing from communist days.
Market and economy continue in uptrend
For the first quarter of 2012, markets showed strong growth. The S&P returned 12.6% for the quarter, 8.5% from the same time a year ago. The Dow was up 8.1% for the quarter, 7.2% from a year ago, and the NASDAQ up 18.7%, 11.2% from a year earlier. Volumes however, were light, not what an investor would want to see. NYSE volume was the lowest since 4Q 2007, and down 14.5% from a year ago as investors remained cautious.
Calendar Year 2011
This past year severely tested investors’ patience. The year started well, with economic optimism emerging. The first quarter of the year the S&P index finished up 5% in spite of enormous headwinds. However, even more unpredictable events appeared which dashed optimism. A severe earthquake and resultant Tsunami rocked Japan, disrupting supply chains and economics throughout the world, showing once again how exogenous events seemingly faraway can impact our markets.