LPL Market Commentary

Each week the LPL Financial Research team assembles thoughtful insight on market news.

Anatomy of a Market Rally: Looking at Key Catalysts

November 20, 2023 | LPL Research

As the market appears to be taking a rest and consolidating its $2.7 trillion rally leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, the historical pattern over the last five years suggests the shortened holiday week typically enjoys modest gains. With concerns over the resiliency of consumer spending, however, the market can be affected by any indication that Black Friday doesn’t witness the throngs of consumers out hunting for bargains, or indications that the start to Cyber Monday won’t result in the billions of dollars that are spent online.

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Is the Stock Market Correction Over?

November 13, 2023 | LPL Research

There is nothing like an eight-day winning streak to change the market narrative. Stocks have quickly gone from a correction to a comeback this month, and the S&P 500 is now challenging key resistance at 4,400. While a confirmed breakout above this level raises the odds of the correction being over, there are still a few boxes left to check on our technical list before making that call. One of the unchecked items is market breadth. Despite the recent rally, participation in the latest rebound has been underwhelming, raising questions over the sustainability of the advance.

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Can Muni Investors Catch a Break? We Think So

November 6, 2023 | LPL Research

It’s been another volatile year for municipal (muni) investors this year. While generally outperforming U.S. Treasuries, the Bloomberg Muni Index is on track for its second calendar year of negative returns—something that has never happened before. But, while volatility will likely persist over the coming months, we think muni investors may be able to catch a break, especially if the Federal Reserve (Fed) is done with its aggressive rate hiking campaign. Moreover, the next few months have historically been favorable for muni investors. So, with still solid fundamentals, the broader muni market may be in for a year-end rally, which would certainly be a nice reprieve for investors suffering from one of the worst muni drawdowns on record. 

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Possible Halloween Scares for Markets and the Economy

October 30, 2023 | LPL Research

It’s a tradition here to write about what scares us around Halloween each year. The past few years have offered plenty of material to use in these annual commentaries, but with wars in Israel and Ukraine ongoing, Washington, D.C. dysfunction reaching new heights, the unrelenting rise in interest rates, still-high inflation, unaffordable housing, tight financial conditions, and a Federal Reserve (Fed) that has not yet signaled it’s done hiking rates, the list seems to be a bit longer and scarier than it usually is. But these are risk factors, not our base case. 

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Economic Impact: Can Something Good Come from a Crisis?

October 23, 2023 | LPL Research

Despite headwinds, the U.S. could experience structural changes in the labor market, residential real estate, and inflation as the post-pandemic economy progresses into the New Year. As markets adjust to a new regime, investors should recognize the economy is becoming less interest rate sensitive and they should focus on leading indicators such as the ratio of part-time workers and not on lagging metrics such as the headline growth stats mostly cited in the media.

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Earnings Hope to Keep This One-Year-Old Bull Market Going

October 16, 2023 | LPL Research

Earnings season has kicked off with several of the big banks and a handful of other blue-chip companies having already reported results for their calendar third quarters. The key headline this reporting season will be the (likely) end of the earnings recession. The October-November reporting season can be particularly interesting because full-year numbers are nearly locked in while more companies share thoughts on the year ahead. Here are several things we will be watching as reports stream in.

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Yields Higher for Longer: Why We’re Updating Our Treasury Forecast

October 9, 2023 | LPL Research

U.S. Treasury yields have seemingly been moving in one direction lately (higher), with the 30-year Treasury yield temporarily breaching 5% for the first time since 2007. The move higher in yields (lower in price) has been unrelenting, with intermediate and longer-term Treasury yields bearing the brunt of the move. There are several reasons we’re seeing higher yields, but rates are moving higher alongside a U.S. economy that has continued to outperform expectations, pushing recession expectations out further, and by the unwinding of rate cut expectations to be more in line with the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) “higher for longer” regime. And with the economic data continuing to show a more resilient economy than originally expected, we think Treasury yields are likely going to stay higher for longer as well. As such, we now project the 10-year Treasury yield will end the year between 4.25% and 4.75% (previously 3.25% and 3.75%).

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Prospects for a Fourth Quarter Rally

October 2, 2023 | LPL Research

After a difficult September for stocks, investors are surely ready to flip the calendar to October. That’s the month that kicks off the historically strong fourth quarter. Expecting this pattern to repeat this year is tricky given the overhang of a government shutdown, interest rates near 16-year highs, a market still trying to digest the Federal Reserve’s “higher for longer” message, and a consumer who is facing some stiff headwinds as excess savings are drawn down, student loan payments restart, and the effects of higher borrowing costs are increasingly felt. Amid that complicated backdrop, here we assess prospects for a fourth-quarter rally.

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Managing Market Volatility

July 18, 2022 | LPL Research

One of the things we knew coming into this year was that 2022 will be a midterm year—and those have historically not been kind to stocks. In fact, since 1950, midterm years have seen the largest peak-to-trough pullback of the four years of the presidential cycle, with the S&P 500 Index down 17.1% on average during the year (the max drawdown this year for the S&P 500 has been 23.5%, as of July 15). 

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MidYear Outlook 2022

July 12, 2022 | LPL Research

Turbulence cannot be avoided, but it also need not deter us from making progress toward our financial goals. LPL Research’s Midyear Outlook 2022: Navigating Turbulence is designed to help you assess conditions over the second half of the year, alert you to the challenges that may still lie ahead, and help you find the smoothest path for making continued progress toward your destination.

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Constructive, Not Complacent: Lowering S&P 500 Target

July 5, 2022 | LPL Research

Stocks have been unable to make up much ground since the June 16 lows, with a bear market rally amounting to only around a 4.3% gain in the S&P 500 Index since then (as of July 1). After the more than 6% rally the week of June 24 and the increasing optimism that came with that bounce, stocks pulled back again last week—the 11th down week for the index in the past 13 weeks. While we acknowledge that a V-shaped recovery is probably not in the cards and prior valuation targets no longer appear achievable, we remain constructive on equities for the second half, but not complacent.

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Relief at the Pump and for Portfolios?

June 27, 2022 | LPL Research

2022 has been rough all-around for the American consumer. Not only are we battling decades-high inflation, but investors’ portfolios are off to one of the worst starts to a year in history as we near the halfway point. Our technical work is first and foremost rooted in trend following, and the trend in both stock and bond prices so far this year have of course been down. However, one trend that has been strongly higher is energy prices. It may be early, but we see some potential signs that energy trends could be changing, which would not only have positive implications for consumers’ wallets, but also potentially investors’ investment portfolios.

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Bear Market Q and A

June 20, 2022 | LPL Research

The bear market that started on June 13 has left the S&P 500 Index 23.5% below its January 3 high. After the initial positive reaction to the Federal Reserve’s first 0.75% rate hike since 1994 and tough talk on inflation, heightened fears of recession and that the Fed might “break something” sent stocks down for the 10th week out of 11 for only the second time in history (The first was in 1970). To help investors manage through this difficult period, we answer some of the top questions we’re getting about bear markets and list some things to watch to assess progress toward an eventual durable low.

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Is The 60/40 Portfolio Dead?

June 13, 2022 | LPL Research

It’s been a tough year so far for a traditional “60/40” portfolio, a portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Using the S&P 500 Index and the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (“Agg”) to represent stocks and bonds, the traditional 60/40 was down 15% as of market close on June 10 on a total return basis. If the year ended now, that loss would trail only 2008 as the worst year on record...

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The Economy Is Slowing But Not Shrinking

June 6, 2022 | LPL Research

Many pundits are issuing recession warnings and saying the economy is heading for a hard landing. Amid the cacophony of voices, we think the economy is slowing just like central bankers want but not shrinking. Further, we argue that a slowing economy is very different than a shrinking one. 

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Looking Through The Clouds

May 31, 2022 | LPL Research

The anxiety among investors is understandable given stock market losses, sky-high inflation, and rising recession risk. Consumer buying power is being eroded by sharply higher prices. The stimulus cavalry is not coming to the rescue. Wages are rising, and while good for consumer buying power, that worries the Federal Reserve (Fed). Materials and transportation costs are rising rapidly as supply chains remain snarled and China’s lockdowns are ongoing. It’s tough out there.

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Dawn of a New Era for Core Bonds

May 23, 2022 | LPL Research

Core bond investors have experienced the worst start to the year ever. However tough this year has been so far though (and it has been tough), the potential for future returns has improved meaningfully, in our view. Starting yields tend to be a good predictor of future returns and have become more attractive in a number of markets recently. With yields on most fixed income markets moving sharply higher, now could be a good time to revisit fixed income markets.

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Corporate America Delivers, Market Attention Focused Elsewhere

May 16, 2022 | LPL Research

First quarter earnings season was solid by just about any measure, but based on recent market behavior it’s obvious that in general market participants paid little attention. This is a macro-driven market, so it will likely take positive macro developments, i.e., better news on the inflation front, to turn stocks around.

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Have We Really Seen Extreme Pessimism Yet?

May 9, 2022 | LPL Research

It’s been a very tough start to the year with both stocks and bonds down sharply. Adding to the “wall of worry” for investors are the highest levels of U.S. inflation in decades, an aggressive Federal Reserve (Fed), Chinese lockdowns, and continuing war in Europe. So perhaps it is no surprise that investor sentiment polls are showing signs of extreme pessimism. 

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Why You Shouldn’t Sell Your Stocks in May This Year

May 2, 2022 | LPL Research

“Sell in May and go away” is probably the most widely cited stock market cliché in history. Every year a barrage of Wall Street commentaries, media stories, and investor questions flood in about the popular stock market adage. In this week’s Weekly Market Commentary, we tackle this commonly cited seasonal pattern and why it might not play out this year, similar to recent years.

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Businesses and Consumers Likely Protected From Near-Term Recession

April 25, 2022 | LPL Research

Not all recessions are created equal. Previous downturns in the U.S. were prompted by various shocks, with the most recent recession started by health and government-induced shutdowns. Other recessions started in the corporate sector, whereas some started from commodity shocks. The next one could start from geopolitical tensions. Nonetheless, we think the current business and consumer environments are safe from near-term recession risks. 

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What to Watch This Earnings Season

April 18, 2022 | LPL Research

First quarter earnings season is rolling. BlackRock, Delta Airlines, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley were among the first 16 S&P 500 companies to report March quarter results, following 20 index constituents with quarters ending in February that had already reported.

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Headwinds to Global Growth: An Economy of Two Halves

April 11, 2022 | LPL Research

LPL Research reduced U.S. and global GDP forecasts due to Russian commodity disruptions, elevated inflation dynamics, and higher borrowing costs. Still, we expect the U.S. economy to grow 2.7-3.2% in 2022, supported by business investment and consumer services spending in the latter half of this year.

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LPL Research’s Stock Market Final Four

April 4, 2022 | LPL Research

As the Final Four NCAA Basketball Tournament rolls on in New Orleans, we continue our tradition of picking a stock market final four. We have identified our four key factors for the stock market outlook: 1) Consumer spending, 2) Earnings, 3) Interest rates, and 4) Inflation. We also celebrate last year’s winner: COVID-19 vaccines.

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Tempered but Optimistic Enthusiasm Over Stocks

March 28, 2022 | LPL Research

As the stock market recovered from the 2020 pandemic lows, valuations reached levels not seen since the dotcom bubble more than 20 years ago. The reopening economy and massive fiscal stimulus helped fuel one of the strongest starts to a bull market ever (a bull market that just turned two-years-old last week).

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Are Core Bonds Under Pressure?

March 21, 2022 | LPL Research

Core bond investors have experienced one of the worst starts to the year ever, potentially calling into question the validity of bonds in a portfolio. Despite the poor start, we don’t think the value proposition for bonds has changed much. Moreover, with yields on most fixed income markets moving sharply higher, now could be a good time to revisit fixed income markets.

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Ready, Set, Rate Hike

March 14, 2022 | LPL Research

The Federal Reserve (Fed) meets this week and in all likelihood will raise short-term interest rates for the first time since emergency levels of monetary accommodation were provided to markets after the COVID-19 shutdowns. Inflationary pressures are running higher than the central bankers are comfortable with, but the conflict in Eastern Europe adds to the uncertain path of policy normalization. Prospects of yield curve inversion make the Fed’s job trickier. 

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Downshift in U.S. Market Growth But Still Above Trend

March 7, 2022 | LPL Research

We currently expect the U.S. economy to grow 3.7% in 2022. The risks are to the downside since the Fed may err on tightening too fast, the recent commodity spike may trickle down to the U.S. consumer, and supply and demand imbalances may last longer than expected. This forecast is lowered from our previous 4-4.5% range originally published in Outlook 2022: Passing the Baton.

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How Soon Are Rate Hikes Coming? 

February 28, 2022 | LPL Research

With inflationary pressures running higher than many central bankers are comfortable with, calls for interest rate hikes have become louder. A number of important central bank meetings are set to take place in March including the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, and the Reserve Bank of Australia, to name a few. As such, March could be an important month for monetary policy shifts.  

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Strong Earnings Momentum to Start 2022

February 22, 2022 | LPL Research

Corporate America has capped off an outstanding 2021 with an excellent fourth quarter earnings season so far. Entering 2021, the consensus estimate for S&P 500 Index earnings per share (EPS) was less than $170. Now with fourth quarter results mostly in the books, that number is 22% higher at $208. Here we recap another solid fourth quarter earnings season and discuss what the results could mean for earnings growth and stock market performance in 2022.

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The Valentine’s Day Index

February 14, 2022 | LPL Research

High inflation continues to cloud the economic outlook while its impact on the potential path of rate hikes has left markets unsettled. Inflation is a serious topic, but occasionally it’s useful to revisit it from a lighter perspective. Today is Valentine’s Day, and as we do every year, LPL Research takes a look at changing prices from the perspective of some popular ways to celebrate the day with our annual Valentine’s Day Index. 

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Which Region Will Get the Gold in 2022?

February 7, 2022 | LPL Research

The near-10% correction in the S&P 500 Index and even larger drawdown in the Nasdaq have gotten a lot of attention this year. What hasn’t gotten as much attention—and maybe surprising to some—is the relative resilience in equity markets outside the U.S. In our special Winter Olympics edition of the Weekly Market Commentary, we hand out medals to the U.S., developed international, and emerging markets. Who do we think will get the gold? Read on to find out.

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LPL Research’s Sustainable Investing Year in Review

January 31, 2022 | LPL Research

Sustainable investing hit several milestones in 2021, but continued to attract its critics. Below we look at how sustainable investing fits within the broader concept of sustainability, its growth during 2021, and an implementation framework that has been helpful for many.

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