- Diversifying to include Emerging Markets helps in tough month for Developed Markets.i,ii,iii
- Continued worries about rising COVID-19 cases and the economy.iv
- Narratives appear to be shifting as more evidence of a potential market inflexion point.
Globally, this month was tough for Developed Markets and not for Emerging Markets. In October, returns for the S&P 500 were -2.8%[i] and MSCI EAFE was -4.1%[ii] while the MSCI Emering Markets was +2.0%[iii]. It was the second month in a row of monthly declines in U.S. equities. As mentioned before, we continue to employ diversification specifically to areas like Emerging Markets to potentially cushion against U.S. equity losses as in October.
Overall, Developed Markets suffered from increasing COVID-19 cases[iv] and in the U.S., diminished hopes of a pre-election stimulus package. The month culminated with a -5.6%[v] sell off during the last week when technology earnings missed expectations, with Microsoft disappointing most in our opinion.
Underneath the surface of a post-election rising market tide, the relative price movement in sectors and investing styles (Factors) appears staggering. Our broad measures of the underlying health of the market continue to worsen. Events happen daily that have either likely never happened before or not happened in a long time. For example, on November 4, the Dow Jones Transportation sector had its worst day relative to the S&P 500 since April 2009, down almost -4%[vi]. Growth had its best day versus Value (using Russell 1000 indices as proxies) since January 2001 – almost 20 years![vii] In our opinion, the market narrative appears to be that the Federal Reserve has everything under control and that it has “got your back.” Meanwhile, we continue to worry about how COVID-19 will affect the economy this winter given the explosion of cases shown by the Johns Hopkins University’s Daily COVID-19 Data in Motion.
In October, we saw the beginnings of a narrative shift to a scenario that reminds us of 2000, similar to what we discussed in our August update. In that market cycle, the technology bubble was formed by companies from buying to prepare for the risk that at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000 their computers would be unable to function. In 2020, companies and individuals spent on technology to work from home during a pandemic. In both cases, decelerating earnings occurred once priorities shifted away from investments in technology. Last month, it appeared that investors started to choose between decelerating and expensive large companies versus opportunities in growing and cheaper small companies where client portfolios have some investments. Specifically, the Russell 1000 Growth Index (large) lost -4.7%i versus the Russell 2000 Index (small) gained 3.4%i in October. This shift is potentially bullish for CIG’s portfolios and less so for investors indulging in passive investments[viii].
We would like to thank our clients and friends for their continued trust and support, as well as to respectfully encourage all to focus on the positives on Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, 2020 has been an excruciatingly difficult year for many of us and it continues with the contested election and the division in the country. However, we have a newfound appreciation for going to family gatherings, restaurants and sporting events, for more frequent phone calls with elders, and for being able to see our children during the workday at home.
Lastly, we suggest that you listen to the replay of our webinar “Keeping your Financial Plans Alive Amid Chaos.” We discuss the challenges, opportunities and questions ahead as we navigate the current and future market conditions.
This report was prepared by CIG Asset Management and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward-looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
[i] Yahoo Finance
[v] Calculated by CIG using data from Yahoo Finance for 10/23 to 10/30.
[vi] Research report from Epsilon Theory, “The King is Dead. Long Live the King” dated 11/5/20.
[vii] Research report from Epsilon Theory, “The King is Dead. Long Live the King” dated 11/5/20.
[viii] While small companies as measured by the Russell 2000 small-cap index has had six 10%+ multi-day moves in 2020, per Bespoke Investment Group, the number of underlying companies with negative profits appears to be quite large relative to history and could pose a problem if investors just buy the index versus those stocks which have positive earnings.