Last week stocks broke their 5-week winning streak as the latest round of economic data disappointed. Both the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) were higher than expected. Retail sales came in lower than expected. Nonetheless, stock and bond market losses were less than 1% (except the Nasdaq lost a bit more). Despite a slightly higher dollar, international stocks were higher on the week. 

Stock market weakness, or at least price consolidation, should currently not be unexpected for a variety of reasons. First, this time of year tends to be a time of seasonally weaker price returns. Second, stock market prices also tend to generate below average returns in the first part of a presidential election year. Third, the US stock market just generated 20%+ returns over the last three months. This qualifies for the expression “overbought”, which would mean the market could use a pause to refresh. A step back in prices would be normal and healthy for the market before taking its next two steps forward. In my opinion, a pause in the market’s ascent would be healthier than prices moving parabolically higher. Given various sentiment readings, the kindling seems to be there for a parabolic move higher. Such a move would likely be destabilizing to investing behavior and potentially plant the seeds for a deeper correction.

It should be noted that Japan also finally hit new all-time highs recently, but unlike the U.S. which recently hit new highs for the first time in only two years, it took Japan 34 years to get back to its 1989 highs. Starting points matter and valuations in Japan in the late ‘80s were sky-high. This is not unlike the enthusiasm for tech stocks in the late ‘90s. One example is Cisco, which was arguably the leading choice back then for a “safe” play on the internet economy. In March 2000, Cisco had a trailing P/E ratio of 381. While Cisco as a company has done well since, it hasn’t been a great stock investment over that time frame. In less than 3 years from its price high, it dropped over 85%. Even today, it is still about 40% below its highs from 2000. How long will it take to get back to those highs, if at all? Starting points indeed do matter, and these historical precedents may be handy to recall given the current investor enthusiasm for artificial intelligence. On that point, AI darling Nvidia reports earnings this week. 

This coming week is lighter in terms of economic calendar releases, but we will get minutes from the Fed’s January meeting as well as more corporate earnings as 4Q23 starts to wind down. Earnings season so far has been better than expected. Approximately 75% of companies have beat expectations (normally that number is closer to 67%) and the year-over-year growth rate is over 3%.

Add it all up...


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The views expressed herein are exclusively those of Orion Portfolio Solutions, LLC d/b/a Brinker Capital Investments a registered investment advisor, and are not meant as investment advice and are subject to change.
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Compliance Code: 0 3 7 8, Brinker Capital Investments, February 20, 2024