11 months ago • 3 mins
Global markets have started this year off with a fresh glint of hope in their eyes, but investors should remember that even the best of intentions can disappear when times get tough.
✍️ Connecting The Dots
It seems like the world’s financial markets woke up on January 1st and decided to put all of last year’s bad news behind them. For starters, the unseasonably warm weather – and the lower energy usage and prices that followed – put a spring in the step of major European and UK stock markets, which are now within spitting distance of all-time highs. And across the pond, bullish US investors have whispered of a goldilocks economy, where inflation’s not too hot and growth’s just right – a fairytale for stock prices, in other words.
But as anyone on a New Year-inspired juice cleanse knows, January’s optimism doesn’t always last the whole year. Investors, then, will want to keep a close eye on market sentiment. Right now, the prevailing word is that the US economy will avoid a crash landing. But if that prediction gets even sweeter, and folk expect the US to touch down softer than a butterfly with sore feet, then you’ll want to prick up your ears. After all, the last few years have taught us that sentiment is a very fickle beast – and when it changes, stock prices can follow suit.
Now, the good news could just keep rolling in, of course. But if history’s any guide, that’s pretty unlikely. Stock prices, then, could be stuck in a constant swing this year, moving up and down whenever the news switches direction. That means investors might need to update their mantras: “buy the dip” did the trick during the upward-marching markets that followed the pandemic’s crash, but you might want to add “sell the rally” to your 2023 vocab.
1. Sweet dreams, investors.
There’s one topic keeping US stock bulls up at night: no, not the fear of broken alarm clocks – valuations. They’re right to be paying attention: economic data might be slotting into place for now, but traditional metrics like the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) are valuing stocks at a pretty average spot, relative to their long-term history. That means if any meaningful rally comes along to pull up stock prices, it’ll push those valuations higher too – and that would likely put a ceiling on any possible gains. But for stocks to look cheaper valuation-wise, there are only two options: a market fall, or an uptick in companies’ profit – that’s used to produce that key ratio, remember. No prizes for guessing which one investors are rooting for.
2. Earnings season comes but four times a year.
US firms go under open surgery every quarter, with their results, strategies, and leaders’ statements laid out on the operating table. See, while economic forecasts keep the headlines busy, corporate profit is where the rubber meets the road for stock prices. And while every reporting season seems more important than the last, fourth-quarter results are usually when CEOs present their yearly outlooks – so the upcoming results season’s a genuine biggie. Time will tell whether the recent shift in market mood has worked its way into their psyches…
🎯 Also On Our Radar
Wall Street can be more dramatic than Hollywood – well, if you’re into finance, that is. Just check out the unfolding prize fight between Nelson Peltz and Disney: Peltz’s last proxy fight – aimed at a boardroom seat at Procter & Gamble – was a classic, so any investor worth their salt will want a ringside seat at this blockbuster.
Disclaimer: These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.
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