A wave of uncertainty could push the market into a correction, according to a new survey of asset managers.
While June was a rocky month in the market, the second quarter ended up in a big way.
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The Dow booked its best quarter since 1987, the S&P 500 had is best performance since 1998, and the Nasdaq posted its best performance since 1999 as investors cheered improving economic data and the reopening of the economy.
This incredible performance followed a first quarter that saw one of the fastest falls into a bear market in history as the coronavirus pandemic forced economic shutdowns worldwide.
While the first two quarters couldn’t have been more different, the market entered the third quarter amid rising uncertainty and nervousness over a surge in new confirmed coronavirus cases.
And in this environment, Citigroup said this week that nearly 70% of asset managers expect a 20% correction is more likely than a 20% move higher, according to their quarterly survey.
Of the 140 fund managers polled by Citi, most say they are holding more of their portfolios in cash, despite the market’s rebound last quarter. And buy side managers have an average weighted target for the S&P 500 is nearly flat compared to current levels at 3,027 at the end of 2020.
SunTrust Advisory chief market strategist Keith Lerner said this week that while history is “only a guide,” he expects the path forward for the market will be a bumpy one as the economy reopens in “fits and starts.”
BTIG chief equity and derivatives strategist Julian Emanuel also noted this week that the rebound seen in the last quarter shows a surge in speculative trading by the public, marked by a record number of account openings as brokers offer zero commissions and record odd-lot trading of options.
According to Emanuel, trading in stocks like rental car company Hertz (NYSE: HTZ)—which in early June saw gain of as much as 143% in a single day following its filing for chapter 11—is reminiscent of the dot-com bubble days of 1999-2000.
“What caught our attention wasn’t the sports bettors or doctors trading, but the high-volume, wild price action in bankrupt shares that made us feel the public’s participation was getting frothy,” Emanuel said.
With stocks looking frothy, JPMorgan Asset Management chief global strategist David Kelly said that investors could be in for a long and rocky ride.
“This is a book-ended recession. It started with the virus, it’s going to end with a vaccine. It’s a two-year experience. It could be horrible, but thereafter, it’s what do companies do that really matters for the value of stocks,” Kelly said. “There’s so much uncertainty out there, markets are supposed to hate uncertainty, so I do think there is some danger of a correction in the stock market.”
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