Tuesday, January 19, 2016

worst ten-day starts

The S&P 500 is down 8% since the year began, the worst two-week start to a year ever. There have only been five other years since 1928 when the index fell by more than 5% in the first 10 trading days of the year. As shown in the B.I.G. table below, looking back at the five worst yearly starts, the returns for the rest of January were mixed, while the rest of year returns were more positive (dramatically so in three cases). The only dud was during the financial crisis in 2008.

S&P 500 worst 10-day starts

Source: Bespoke Investment Group (B.I.G.).

The correction has similarities to last August’s—a swift price decline for a market that had recently been near multi-year highs. SentimenTrader (ST) notes it’s quite rare to see this kind of severity relatively soon after trading near a three-year high—and the fact that we’re seeing another episode so close to last August’s is also rare. Looking at history, there was a binary outcome after such periods: the market tended to worsen looking ahead if a recession had already begun or was imminent. But if there was no recession, the market did decidedly better.


Every predictive recession model I have studied still suggests a low risk of recession. In fact, if we are in one or heading toward one, it would be the first time in history the leading indicators did not roll over and provide ample warning.

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