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  • J. J. Wenrich CFP®

Sentiment Getting Frothy, but Long-Term Bullish

Market Blog

With investors taking note of improving COVID-19 trends, an expanding US economy, and additional fiscal stimulus expected in the coming weeks, many are wondering if market sentiment is getting ahead of itself, and the stock market has certainly been on a tear recently. Since the presidential election on November 3, 2020, the S&P 500 Index is up over 15% on a total return basis as of February 23, and has climbed back over 76% since the market bottom on March 23, 2020.

As shown in the chart below, despite some inklings of volatility this week, the American Association of Individual Investors survey of bulls versus bears has been climbing (indicating bulls are outnumbering bears). However, the ratio still stands well short of the historical extremes, a point where there are roughly 40% more bulls in the survey than bears.

“We continue to be positive on stocks over bonds, but sentiment may be getting a little hot right now so we wouldn’t be surprised to see volatility pick-up,” noted LPL Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Bond yields are also a bit stretched, so we may see them retrace a bit if stocks pull back.”

Often times when the market is suggesting a more substantial correction is on the horizon, credit markets will reflect the anxiety. Corporate spreads remain incredibly tight, and high yield spreads recently hit their lowest level since 2014. While the S&P 500 has suffered some weakness recently, we believe this is more due to the outsized weighting of mega-cap growth names. Since February 16, the technology and consumer discretionary sectors are both down at least 2%, however, sectors tied to the reopening trade have rallied significantly. Energy has gained 9.8% and financials more than 4%.

So where do we go from here? Near-term, we remain in the camp that equities have earned a well-deserved breather, and increasingly bullish sentiment may be raising the prospects of a correction. However, markets don’t always purely go up or down—a sideways consolidation to digest the gains of the past year is certainly a possible outcome.

Regardless of the prospects for stocks in the near-term, we continue to believe that an expanding economy, supportive fiscal and monetary policy, along with rising bond yields suggest an allocation to stocks over bonds. As we’ve noted in the past, volatility is the cost of admission for stock investors, and getting caught up in the short-term headlines can cause investors to lose sight of their time horizon.


This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

All index and market data from FactSet and MarketWatch.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC).

Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor that is not an LPL affiliate, please note LPL makes no representation with respect to such entity.

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