Our Market in 2020

That’s been our mantra for 2020. And investors have rung the register over and over again this year following that simple trend. The Nasdaq soared to new all-time highs. Individual standouts, like Zoom Video Communications (Nasdaq: ZM), have surged nearly 600% year to date.

But a couple of weeks ago, the mood began to sour. And the Nasdaq’s thunderous rally came to a stumbling end…
Over the course of a couple of hectic weeks, tech stocks shed 11.5%. The Nasdaq is now up only 11,000 and is in full-blown correction territory.

This mass reversal in tech has also triggered steep declines in both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index.

This is worse than the pullback we saw in June. We’d have to go back to those gloomy days of March for the last time we saw drops so sharp.

So is this the beginning of the end?

Or is this an opportunity to welcome with open arms?

Broader Markets Performance

A Trick or a Treat?

There’s a rhythm to life.

There’s a rhythm to the markets as well.

For more than a decade, I have been looking for and taking advantage of, these patterns. And what we’re seeing now brings me some comfort. Many investors feared the dreaded “September swoon” would rear its ugly head. The month has a storied reputation for being scary. Since 1993, the Dow has been down at the end of September a total of 14 times. A half-dozen of these took place during the stretch from 1999 to 2004.

That was an intense, spooky stretch for investors.

This data paints an unflattering picture of the month. Since 1985, September has been the worst month for the Dow.

Average Monthly Gain

There are only three months that averaged a negative return over the past 3 1/2 decades. And September’s loss is by far the worst.

The second worst is August. The blue-chip index has ended this month lower seven times in the last 11 years. And then there is June, the lazy, sideways trading month that kicks off what we refer to as the “summer lull” – which stretches through September.

Summer officially ends today.

This is a rhythm we see repeated over and over again.

And that’s welcoming.

The Election Year Blues

Some of you may be wondering, “How can you say that?”

Well, in a year besieged by a pandemic, the fastest 30% decline in market history, the fastest bear-to-bull-market recovery ever, the worst economic downturn in a generation, and the market deluged by a new breed of day traders, this pullback is actually a sign of normalcy.

It’s a trusty sea of red.

No doubt, “2020” will evolve into some form of curse or expletive. In the not-so-distant future, I imagine “100” will be sarcastically replaced with “2020.”

It’s been a no-good, rotten, terrible year that will leave scars on people forever. Just as the Great Depression and the Great Recession did.

But the September swoon was right on cue. September, historically, is the worst-performing month not only for the Dow, but also for the Nasdaq and S&P 500.

I may have some dissenters on this view. There may be those claiming, “A 5.5% drop is more than a ‘swoon.’”

But keep in mind, this is an election year – maybe the most divisive in quite some time – and the markets hate uncertainty.

The Dow has been red in September nearly every single election year this millennium.

In 2000, the Dow ended September down 5.07%…

In 2004, it closed the month down 0.88%…

In 2008, the Dow declined 6.02% in September…

In 2012, blue chips posted a gain of 2.64%…

And in 2016, the Dow closed the month down 0.48%.

This year, stocks are down more than 5.5%.

So that’s not outside the outer limits of what we’ve seen in the past.

It’s been a violent couple of weeks. And more volatile than we’ve seen in quite some time.

But September has a reputation for being a month full of declines. And that’s fine. Because three of the best months historically for the market – October, November and December – are on the horizon.

This is a time to start compiling your wish list. Think of it as an early holiday present to yourself. This pullback provides the opportunity to add shares of great companies to your portfolio at a discount.

The markets won’t be without turbulence until November. But we use these dips to build positions and wait for the next leg higher.

Don’t think of this as the “September swoon,” but instead as a chance for a “September stock-up.”

Here’s to high returns,

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