Market Watchers Beware: S&P 500’s Unusual Move Sparks Speculation of Major Shift Ahead

In 2023, despite initial concerns of a recession, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) resiliently surged by 24%. The initial seven months witnessed a strong 20% increase, propelled by robust economic growth, subdued inflation, and a growing interest in artificial intelligence.

However, the latter part of the year presented challenges. A three-month decline in August, September, and October ensued as bond yields rose, inflation increased, and the Federal Reserve indicated a prolonged period of elevated interest rates. The headwinds abated during the holiday season, concluding the year on a positive note.

A significant accomplishment for the S&P 500 was its nine consecutive weekly gains at the close of 2023, marking its lengthiest winning streak since 2004. Historical trends suggest that such streaks often precede additional gains in the following year.

Introduced in March 1957, the S&P 500 has encountered a total of 10 nine-week winning streaks, with the most recent ending in December 2023. Historical data indicates a median return of 12.2% for the S&P 500 over the 12 months following such streaks, hinting at a potential 12.2% increase by the end of 2024 and significant upside in the U.S. stock market.

Nevertheless, caution is warranted, recognizing that historical data does not guarantee future outcomes. The recent winning streak, driven by economic predictions regarding future monetary policy, introduces unique circumstances that may impact the market differently this year.

Another factor supporting optimism for the stock market in 2024 is the expectation of robust earnings. S&P 500 companies, after three consecutive quarterly profit declines starting in Q4 2022, concluded an “earnings recession” in Q3 2023. Projections for 2023 anticipate revenue growth of 2.3% and earnings growth of 0.8%.

Wall Street consensus, however, foresees an acceleration in 2024, with revenue growth at 5.5% and earnings growth at 11.8%. This positive momentum suggests potential upward movement in the market, with a 9% upside from its current level, according to FactSet Research.

Investors are reminded to consider the inherent uncertainty in forecasts, and while the odds of a positive return increase with a longer holding period, there are no guarantees in the stock market. The chart emphasizing the relationship between holding period and the probability of a positive return reinforces the idea that patience is a key element in achieving success in the stock market.

Over the past three decades, the S&P 500 has exhibited consistent growth, compounding at an annual rate of 10.11%, underscoring the enduring principle that patience is indeed the secret to making money in the stock market.

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