Anyone following the market over the last few years came to appreciate this market’s Teflon nature. No matter what headlines were thrown at it, it shrugged them off and continued higher. Earnings recessions. Brexits. Trade Wars. Rate Hikes. Nothing slowed this market’s relentless climb to, and then beyond, all-time highs. That is until the Coronavirus came along and now we are in the middle of the biggest and fastest stock market crash since the 2008 Financial Crisis. Why this? Why now? What makes this different?
The simple answer is all of the other events were economically quantifiable. After a brief shock and a few percent corrections, traders were able to quantify the financial impact of 25% tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China. The Brexit was a little less clear since no country left the EU before, but after a few gyrations, the market quickly realized both sides would work this out and even if they didn’t, both economies could survive the divorce even if it got ugly. Rate hikes? Been there, done that. All of these things were bad for stocks but after a brief bobble, traders got used to them, priced the news in, and moved on.
But the Coronavirus? Nothing like this happened in modern history. There is no telling how far the economic damage could go. Business travel is suspended. Conferences canceled. Festivals canceled. Sporting events canceled, postponed, or held without spectators. Even the Olympics this summer is threatened. Airlines are already reporting a bigger decline in bookings than they saw after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and there are few things more disturbing than the images we saw that day.
We haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetime and that makes it impossible to predict the economic fallout. By nature, markets hate uncertainty more than bad news. It can price in bad news and move on. But the unknown, how do you price that in? You can’t and is why many investors are taking a sell now, ask questions later approach to their portfolios.
And unfortunately, I don’t see the uncertainty clearing up anytime soon. But that isn’t all bad for the market. While the headlines will continue to deteriorate, with every passing day and each successive headline, there are fewer and fewer scared owners left in the market. Once the last of those have sold, supply dries up and prices bounce no matter what is going on in the news. While some people are waiting for a slowdown in the infection rate or a vaccine to be announced, the stock market will rebound from the lows long before then.
When will that bounce happen? The honest answer is I don’t know. And no one else does either. This is an emotional selloff and conventional rules don’t apply. Trendlines, support levels, moving averages, P/E ratios, all of it is totally and completely meaningless to an emotional market. This selloff will end when we run out of scared sellers. Nothing more, nothing less. Are we close, yes, we’re very close. The challenge is in a market that falls 4%, 5%, and 7% in a single day, an imminent bounce might come to our rescue, but prices could be at much lower when it finally happens.
This is a day-trader’s paradise. Everyone else should resist the urge to react to these gyrations. That means either sticking with your long-term positions and buying more of your favorite stocks, or watching this unfold from the safety of the sidelines and only jumping back in after the overnight gaps and intraday swings calm down. As the saying goes, it is better to be a little late than a lot early.
Sign up for FREE Email Alerts to get profitable insights like these delivered to your inbox every week.
What’s a good trade worth to you?
How about avoiding a loss?
For less than $1/day, have actionable analysis and a trading plan delivered to your inbox every day during market hours
Follow Jani on Twitter @crackedmarket
Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM $AAPL $AMZN
Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two children.