Showing posts with label Monica Lewinsky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Monica Lewinsky. Show all posts

Friday, December 27, 2019

Shades of the Late 90s: S&P Poised to Be Best Year Since 1997

With just three more sessions left in the year, the S&P 500 is on the cusp of becoming the best year for stock investors in 22 years, since 1997, recollecting back to the halcyon days of the tech and dotcom boom (and subsequent bust).

With the close on Thursday of 3,229.91, the S&P is up 29.24%. Friday's futures are pointing to a positive open, and the index needs to gain just less than 12 points to surpass 2013's gain of 29.60% to become not just the best year of the decade, but of the nascent 21st century. 22 years ago, in 1997, the index gained 31.01%, and that was on the back of gains of 34% and 20% in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

Closing out 2018 on December 31 at 2,506.85, the S&P has piled on more than 700 points, but not all of that was in record territory. Recall that the final three months of 2018 were downright frightening to investors, as the index tumbled from a September 20 closing high of 2,930.75 to a low of 2,351.10 on December 24, prior to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's (in)famous phone call, purportedly, to the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), aka the President's Working Group on Financial Markets.

The rest is for the history books or maybe Christmas fantasies. The tremendous slide in stocks was halted with the market closed on December 25. The index had declined from 2,743.79 on November 28 by nearly 400 points and that was after the nearly 300 point losses from late September through October with a brief rally prior to Thanksgiving.

On the 26th of December, stocks boomed, with the S&P gaining an astonishing 116 points, standing at 2,467.70 on the close of trading. Wall Street's worst fears had been vanquished. Stability returned and little by little stocks came back into favor, with slow but steady gains through the early months of 2019, finally setting a new all-time high on April 23rd, when the index closed at 2,933.68. The mini bear market lasted all of seven months.

Through the middle of the year, gains were sporadic due to tensions over the trade war between China and the United States, though any negative news was quickly dispatched with hope for a breakthrough in days following. This kind of knee-jerk up and down action continued through summer and into the fall, with the index first bounding through the 3,000 mark on July 12.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as the index dipped back below 2,850 in mid-August, but began to gather momentum which carried it through the end of the third quarter. From October 1 forward to today, the S&P has tacked on nearly another 300 points, cresting over 3,000 again for the final time on October 23. The gains in November and December alone are approaching 200 points, about seven percent.

Should the S&P close out the year with reasonable gains - and there's little reason to believe that it won't - it could be the beginning of something big, if one is a believer in the predictive nature of charts and the cyclical behavior of stocks, politics and people.

Going back to 1995, when the S&P pumped higher by 34.11% - the best gain since 1958 - the following four years were all solid ones for investors. A 20.26% gain in 1996 was followed by gains of 31.01 in 1997, 26.67 in '98, and 19.53 in 1999. Those were also the years of Bill Clinton's second term as president of the United States, and, similarly to today's political circus, he was impeached, his affair with Monica Lewinsky occurring in 1994, his eventual impeachment by the House of Representatives and subsequent acquittal by the Senate in 1998.

While the parallels between the final years of the 1990s to today's market and political environment may be described as strikingly similar there is no assuredness that the same bounty will befall investors during what is likely to be President Trump's second term in office. Since the recent impeachment fiasco has fallen flat and is currently stalled out, perhaps the Democrats in the House will go for a second try after the elections in November of next year (or maybe even before).

Democrats' undying allegiance to the faith of "orange man bad" is assured. However, it appears that the president, for all his warts and flaws and tweets, has been doing a bang-up job on the economy, and it's his successes that have triggered the Dems' ire for the most part. If the Senate remains in Republican hands, it's a safe bet that Trump will reign for four more years, and that possibly, his economic policies (remember, he's made and lost billions of dollars in private life over the years) will usher in four more years of outstanding returns on the stock market.

One caveat to bear in mind. After 1999, some may remember what happened. The tech boom went bust. The S&P lost 10.14% in 2000, 13.14% in 2001, and 23.37% in 2002. Of course, the NASDAQ fared much worse, losing 78% over the same three years.

As we approach a new decade, think positive thoughts.

At the Close, Thursday, December 26, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,621.39, +105.94 (+0.37%)
NASDAQ: 9,022.39, +69.51 (+0.78%)
S&P 500: 3,239.91, +16.53 (+0.51%)
NYSE Composite: 13,940.42, +45.28 (+0.33%)