Optimism Drives Stocks to New Highs Amid Uncertainty in the 3rd Quarter
October 2, 2020
We hope that this letter finds you safe and healthy during these still-unprecedented times. 2020 continued to be one of the most unpredictable years in memory, as markets rose to new all-time highs in the third quarter despite a resurgence in coronavirus cases, as stocks rallied thanks to a combination of even more accommodative Fed policy, hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine and a stronger-than-expected economic rebound, before markets declined moderately from those highs in mid-September.
The third quarter began with a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the United States, as new daily cases of COVID-19 smashed through levels seen in March and April, eventually topping out at a record 78,871 new cases on July 24th. But unlike March and April, stocks did not decline following the spike in new cases, as state governments enacted more surgical economic shutdowns instead of the wholesale lockdowns that occurred in the first half of the year. That change in strategy, combined with the fact that hospitalization rates and mortality rates of COVID-19 remained far below March and April levels, helped the stock market look past the increase in cases, and the
S&P 500 rose 5.51% in July.
The rally continued in August, aided by the peak and subsequent decline of coronavirus cases in some of the largest U.S. states (California, Florida, and Texas). Additionally, despite the expiration of the CARES Act stimulus, U.S. economic data continued to improve throughout August, powering stocks higher. Finally, in late August the Federal Reserve formally announced the adoption of an “average inflation target,” which effectively signaled the Fed would tolerate higher inflation in the economy more so than in recent history. That policy shift is a potentially longer-term bullish event for stocks as they are positively correlated to higher inflation. Led by gains in the tech sector, the S&P 500 hit a new all-time high in mid-August and the rally continued through month-end. The S&P 500 rose 7.01% in August and finished the month in solidly positive territory on a year-to-date basis.
This material prepared by TrinityPoint Wealth is for informational purposes only. Additional data provided by Kinsale Trading LLC. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Opinions expressed by TrinityPoint Wealth are based on economic or market conditions at the time this material was written. Economies and markets fluctuate. Actual economic or market events may turn out differently than anticipated. Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. TrinityPoint Wealth, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.