Broker Check

Market Commentary - January 2022

Stocks have gotten off to a tough start in 2022. Why has the market pulled back and what might we see going forward?

Is this normal?

We think the most important thing to remember is that periodic stock market volatility is entirely normal. Historically, the S&P 500 Index has averaged three pullbacks of 5% or more per year and one correction of more than 10% annually. Investors have grown accustomed to steady, consistent gains over the past couple of years which makes the current bumpy ride feel more uncomfortable. After only a single 5% pullback in 2021, we have known volatility would come knocking again sooner or later. (Remember, that’s why we had a market pullback built into our planning projections during our review meetings last year.)

Why?

Even though volatility is normal, it is usually responding to something. Stubbornly high inflation, higher interest rates, and less support from the Federal Reserve are getting most of the blame, and probably deservedly so. Supply chain disruptions and some economic weakness because of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are also playing a role. Additionally, market history tells us that stock market action in mid-term election years (which we’re in now) are historically quite volatile and most gains tend to happen in the back half of the year.

How have rate hikes affected the markets?

With the Fed taking proactive measures to slow inflation, the signal of higher interest rates has made the markets nervous. Since rate hikes typically take place in a strong economy, the S&P 500 historically has had positive performance (on average) in the year before and after the first rate hike of an economic expansion. 


There are still challenges: supply chain disruptions, wage and other cost pressures, and the COVID-19 Omicron variant. But while it is still early in earnings season, corporate earnings are growing strongly and companies are mostly optimistic about the future. 

What should you do? 

Remember, while pullbacks and market volatility are not things any of us enjoy, it’s difficult (we’d say impossible) to time the market. Take a look at the chart below and notice how important it is to stay invested during times of market volatility. On average, the market is up around 25% a year after the low, indicating much of the gains take place shortly after the bottom. So if you get out then wait until the coast is clear, it may be too late to recoup the losses.  

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