“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

The economic struggles in our country are among the worst we’ve ever seen. In April, a record 20 million people lost their jobs, and 36 million people have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March. Record drops in consumer confidence, manufacturing, and spending are all adding to the immediate economic fallout. Specific industries have been devastated, with names like J.C. Penney, J.Crew, and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy.

Clothing sales are down 89%, furniture sales down 66%, and restaurant sales down 49% from this time last year, according to the United States Census Bureau. Yet, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, these many single defeats won’t necessarily add up to the final defeat. Our country has survived many trying times before, and we are starting to see glimmers of hope on both the medical and economic fronts. Our resolve and fortitude will once again shine, as we head toward better times in the second half of 2020.

More testing for COVID-19 is needed to help identify infected people and to stop the virus from spreading. As testing has soared, the number of positive COVID-19 results as a percentage of total tests has trended lower, and that percentage consistently has been beneath 10%, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. In addition, doctors have developed a “toolbox” of drugs to help provide patients a better chance at survival. Antiviral drugs like remdesivir in combination with other drugs are showing significantly better results now than just a few weeks ago. The World Health Organization has reported “potentially positive data” in several treatments. Although a vaccine could still be a year or more away, human drug trials are underway with encouraging initial results.

In the face of the devastating loss of human life and historically weak economic data, however, the S&P 500 Index has experienced one of its greatest short-term rallies ever, up more than 30% from the March 23 lows at its recent peak. Based on historical trends, a warranted correction in stocks over the coming months may be possible. Stock valuations are historically expensive, tensions are building between the United States and China, the stock market’s momentum is showing signs of waning, and we’re entering the historically weak summer months—all of these are reasons to be alert.

History bears this out. All major S&P 500 bear markets in the past 60 years had a significant bounce off the market lows, followed by a correction of about 10% on average before another surge higher. Based on this historical trend, a market correction of 8–12% after the recent big rally may be likely over the coming months.

While current economic data may sound bad, it’s important to remember it is backward-looking. Real-time economic data points such as public transportation, traveler data from the Transportation Security Administration, fuel sales, railroad traffic, and federal tax withholding are all showing improvement as the economy begins to re-open.

Finally, small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows they employ 47% of all private sector jobs. Recent data showed small businesses are as optimistic about the next six months as they’ve been in 18 months, suggesting the worst may be behind us, and a growing demand for their products and services could be brewing. The pain from this recession is impacting all of us, but better times are coming.

Stay safe, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of May 19, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-05012842

Investors like labels for the economy and financial markets—many of them with the word “great” in them. The Great Depression. The Great Recession. The Great Lockdown. Well, we’ve moved into what we might call the Great Disconnect. How can stocks have rebounded so strongly in the last month amid so much suffering and economic damage? What’s Wall Street seeing that so many on Main Street are not?

For one, in the United States more than 20 states have already begun to reopen their economies, and others have plans to begin very soon. In Europe, lockdowns are being eased, following Asia’s lead. Even gradual progress like this may help the stock market focus more on what’s ahead than where we are right now.

As lockdown restrictions are lifted, timely indicators like vehicle traffic, electricity consumption, public transportation use, daily consumer confidence surveys, and a wide variety of weekly economic indicators point to a low mark in economic activity in the United States in April. The “Great Lockdown” recession of 2020 may be over already—although it may not be officially declared a recession for several more months.

Nowhere to go but up isn’t normally very reassuring, but to the stock market it may be. Historically, when things have looked their worst, the opportunity in stocks has tended to be the best. The S&P 500 Index has usually hit its bottom and started the climb back up about five months before a recession has ended.

Other factors have helped boost investor sentiment recently. Market participants have gained confidence from the bold stimulus response from policymakers in Washington, DC, and the Federal Reserve. The total amount of the stimulus this year is about 22% of the entire US economy, based on gross domestic product (GDP). During the entire 2008–09 financial crisis, the total amount of stimulus was 16.6% of GDP. And there may be more. Surging unemployment and weakening finances at the state and municipal levels may be catalysts for more action. Though millions of jobs have been lost to this crisis, many millions surely have been saved as well.

The medical community also has provided reasons for optimism. Though no one knows for sure when a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready, rapid progress is being made, and several promising candidates are now in human trials. Testing capacity has also ramped up, while some of the best capitalized and most innovative companies in the world are developing contact-tracing tools to help facilitate safe re-openings. While stocks may have come a bit too far, too fast in the short term, markets are clearly responding to these positive developments.

Reopening the US economy will be a gradual process, and temporary setbacks may be possible. Some of the lost jobs may not return. The possibility of disappointment as the “Great Reopen” unfolds is real. We are facing a tremendous challenge, but it is being met with incredible resilience, resourcefulness, and innovation. Together we will get through this crisis and return to better times.

Please take care, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of May 6, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

Tracking # 1-05007832

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” — Lou Holtz, Hall of Fame football coach

As the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic continues, how we respond to it will determine how we beat it. Continued sacrifices range from everyone in the medical community working on the front lines to the thousands of truck drivers across our country keeping goods flowing, parents who have become homeschoolers, and folks missing their family events to help stop the spread of this terrible outbreak. As Lou Holtz said, we can’t control what happens, but how we respond to it is what matters. Our response to this crisis has shown the resolve and strength of the human spirit, which is why we will overcome.

The response from the economy and stock market, however, has shown a disconnect between the two. Tragically, 22 million people have filed for unemployment in the past four weeks, nearly wiping out all the jobs created during the record 10-year economic expansion. Historic drops in consumer confidence, retail sales, industrial production, oil prices, and housing starts have shown how quickly our economy has gone from solid growth to virtually stopping in its tracks. Yet, stocks have been soaring the past few weeks. Remember, stocks tend to weaken before the economy, and they tend to lead before the economy turns around. Stocks see light at the end of the tunnel before the economy feels it, and the big move recently may be a sign the economy could turn around later this year.

Small businesses have been impacted the most by the economic crisis, and the government and Federal Reserve actions to bridge the gap to better times are unprecedented. The combined stimulus from fiscal and monetary policy is more than 20% of the value of the entire US economy, as measured by gross domestic product, greatly mitigating the economic hardships. The hurried roll out of the small business loan program wasn’t perfect, but it is helping those businesses.

This recession—though not officially declared yet—is unlike any other. It wasn’t caused by the virus itself, but by the government telling people to stay home in an effort to flatten the curve. The government can’t simply turn on a switch to get things back to normal, but with all of the stimulus making its way through the system, it’s possible this could be one of the shortest recessions ever. First quarter earnings season has begun, and it will be interesting to learn how quickly corporate America anticipates the slowdown ending. Estimates for earnings in 2020 have reduced drastically, but there is still hope that a strong second-half economic rebound could help support a recovery in corporate profits.

More than 2 million people worldwide have been infected by the virus, and we all have been impacted in some way. There are drug companies all around the world working nonstop to find an effective treatment, while Boeing, one of the hardest hit companies during this crisis, said it might start building planes again soon. We aren’t out of the woods yet, and the economic data and headlines may get worse before they get better, but our response to this crisis reinforces our confidence that the future remains bright.

Please stay healthy, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of April 23, 2020.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

LPL # 1-05002504