Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday wins sent US stocks soaring — but as the coronavirus outbreak deepens, fear has returned to the market. In the near term, volatility is here to stay.
Wednesday marked the S&P 500’s third swing of at least 4% in just five days. US futures are plunging again on Thursday, with Dow futures falling more than 400 points, or 1.6%.
Right now, markets are at the mercy of competing forces: concern that the coronavirus’ global spread could send the United States and other economies into recession, and hope that the impact can be limited as containment efforts ramp up and central banks step in to soften the blow.
Many investment managers are reiterating their year-end targets for stocks while acknowledging that the environment will be rocky in weeks and months to come.
“Fear is not an investment strategy and, more importantly, panic is not an investment strategy,” Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, told CNN Business’ Richard Quest. “We still think that US stocks are in a 20-year bull market.”
Belski said he expects the S&P 500 to rise to 3,400 by the end of 2020, a 8.6% increase above current levels. But he acknowledges that the coronavirus outbreak has “added some volatility.”
Goldman Sachs, which now predicts that US companies will generate no earnings growth in 2020, also forecasts that the S&P 500 will reach 3,400 by the end of the year, though it recently lowered its near-term forecast to 2,900. That is 7.4% below current levels.
Not just stocks
Bond yields have been similarly volatile recently as investors pile into safe haven assets amid recession fears. The yield on 10-year US Treasury notes, which moves opposite prices, fell below 1% for the first time ever this week. Goldman thinks yields will reach a low of 0.85% by the end of the second quarter before rebounding to 1.2% by the end of the year.
In such an uncertain environment, capital markets activity is coming under pressure. Reuters reports that Warner Music and Cole Haan have abandoned plans to kick off their IPOs this week.
“If a direct impact from the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t put companies’ IPO plans on hold, then the record-high volatility will,” Renaissance Capital told clients earlier this week.