By: Jeff Bullock
The stock market is off to a rough start this year. Geopolitical unrest, supply chain issues, the highest inflation we’ve seen in 40+ years, and elevated market volatility are just a few of the issues markets are dealing with. The equity market is considered forward-looking mechanism, meaning, it is trying to price in future expectations based on information today. The price changes daily because, every day, in theory, there is more clarity regarding expectations and markets promptly adjust. Sometimes you might see that the stock market will increase on bad news or decrease on good news. This happens because it is reacting to a past expectation; perhaps the news wasn’t as bad or as good as previously expected.
With everything that has happened this year, here are a few expectations I have heading into the summer:
- Aggressive Fed: The Federal Reserve needs to stomp out inflation. They plan to do this by increasing interest rates much more aggressively than previously expected. One year ago, the market expected the Fed to raise interest rates once in 2022; now the expectations are 8-10 times. This change in expectations has been a primary driver of the market volatility.
- Choppy Markets: I expect choppy markets into the summer. Inflation, China’s economy, the war, and supply chains will all print new headlines, undoubtably some good and some bad. The markets will digest the news in real-time and I expect more volatility and choppy markets for the rest of Q2.
- Growth Fears: Last week we found out that Q1 GDP was negative. This was highly unexpected, and as such, everyone is on watch since the definition of a recession is when we see two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. I expect recession and stagflation fears to heighten into the summer due to this unexpected negative print.
Our portfolio positioning reflects this current view of the markets. We’ve been tactically overweight value stocks and low duration bonds since last year and continue to hold this positioning, which has been a winning relative trade so far. Our equity position has a focus on income allowing us to be patience since we are being paid to wait if markets go sideways.
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