Market Update

May 2023 Market Update

The month of April saw little change in the major stock indices as volatility fell to the lowest levels since November 2021. This occurred even though money supply, as measured by M2, is in the midst of its steepest decline since the 1930s, which looks like an omen of lower stock prices, to me.

Trading was fairly quiet in April despite a lot of moving pieces. Markets were supported by some positive themes from earnings season, consumer resiliency, and the weaker Dollar.

Disinflation was also in focus, with some pricing measures falling to their lowest levels since July 2020.  Despite this, the Federal Reserve hiked short-term rates again at the early May meeting.  There is a gap between market expectations and current Fed policy, which may see the Fed restarting hikes later this year if inflation doesn’t recede.  If markets have not priced this in, I would expect it to create downside pressure on stocks.

Data this month also offered mixed takeaways. Gross Domestic Product, a broad measure of the US economy, came in below consensus.  To match the Fed’s own 2023 GDP growth forecast, the economy will need to expand dramatically in the coming quarters.

While it may still be early, we are starting to see some improvement to corporate earnings forecasts for 2023 and 2024.  Earnings results have been better than expected, and since corporate earnings are such an important factor in determining stock prices, that is a great signal for the health of the stock market. 

From a technical perspective, stocks are approaching overbought territory. Market breadth is narrow, meaning that only a handful of stocks are leading, which makes the stock market appear to be doing better than what most investors’ portfolios reflect. 

Given my belief that the S&P 500 is most likely stuck between a range of 3500-4200, we are taking a cautious approach.  I heard a quote from Josh Brown of Ritholtz Wealth Management that describes our current policy: “it’s better to be wrong and cautious than wrong and reckless.”   We didn’t expect the rapid rise in tech-stock prices so far this year, but we are comfortable with the exposure we do have there.  If this is not an approach that you are comfortable with, please let your financial advisor know so that we can make the proper adjustments. 

Overall, I believe that this bear market is in its later stages, so we’re not taking risk off the table altogether.  You never know when the market will bolt higher, and just because my base case is for a recession, that doesn’t mean that stocks have not already priced that in.  As economic and fiscal (the debt ceiling) concerns intensify, market volatility is likely to continue ahead. With that in mind, we will look to get less conservative as opportunities present themselves.

As we approach summer, I’ll remind you that markets will be closed on May 29 in observance of Memorial Day. 

As always, these opinions are mine, and may or may not be the same as those of Raymond James.  This is not a solicitation to invest, although we do invite you to review your portfolio with us to see if any changes should be made.  
Past performance may not be indicative of future results. There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur.  Investing involves risk including the possible loss of capital. Asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss.  There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and bond prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall and when interest rates fall, bond prices generally rise.
The forgoing is not a recommendation to buy or sell any individual security or any combination of securities. 
The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Individuals cannot invest directly in any index.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stocks of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal.  The NASDAQ composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.  The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a broad based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market.   U.S. government bonds and Treasury notes are guaranteed by the U.S. government and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and guaranteed principal value. U.S. government bonds are issued and guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest by the federal government. Treasury notes are certificates reflecting intermediate-term (2 – 10 years) obligations of the U.S. government.  Every investor’s situation is unique, and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment.
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Scott Mitchell and not necessarily those of Raymond James.  Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.  Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services.  Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.

About Scott Mitchell

AAMS ®, Chief Investment Officer SWG, Senior Wealth Advisor RJFS, Scott is a cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University School of Business. He received additional training from the College of Financial Planning and earned the accreditation of Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠ as well as earning the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation.  Scott began his career at Southern National Bank. He then joined his father, Bob Mitchell, at First Union Securities for six years. At Signature, Scott directs investment strategy for the team and oversees the research and management of individual stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Scott lives in Florence with his wife and two children. He is a member and past President of St. Luke Lutheran Church, member and past President of the Florence Rotary Club, and on the board of directors of the Pee Dee Area Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Follow Scott on LinkedIn. Raymond James is not affiliated with any of the above-mentioned organizations.