2015: A Time for Patience | Planning Insights
Don't let the market's jumps rattle your commitment to staying invested.
What the market does today, it may not do tomorrow. That may seem elementary, but there are
days, weeks, months, and even years when that investing lesson is ignored. Wall Street started
2015 with pronounced volatility, and in the opening six weeks of the year, investors were again
reminded why patience is so important.
What did investors do in January? Sell. The e S&P 500 lost 3.10%. Discouraging news items bred
pessimism: deflation was coming to Europe, world demand for oil had peaked and prices would
never come near $100 again, the slowdown in Europe and Asia would soon unravel America’s
economic comeback. An old market belief dictates that the opening month of a year sets the tone
for the rest of the year. The perceived implication: 2015 equals bad market year. Sell! Sell before
it is too late!1
What did investors do at the start of February? Buy. The S&P 500 gained 3.03% in the first
trading week of the month (and it had advanced 2.64% in the 30 days ending February 6).
Encouraging news items bred optimism: the European Central Bank unveiled an asset-purchase
program extending into 2016 to fight deflation with a scope matching QE3, oil prices began to
rebound sharply, assorted earnings pleased Wall Street. The perceived implication: 2015 might
not be so bad. Buy the dip.2,3
What’s the takeaway here? Don’t panic. Don’t let a down January lead you to put off your annual
IRA contribution or trim your per-paycheck retirement plan deferrals. What ground stocks lose,
they may quickly regain.
For the record, 2014 provided the same lesson in patience. January 2014 saw the S&P 500 fall
3.56%. February 2014 brought a 4.31% gain. The S&P went on to go +11.39% for the year.
Perhaps its 2015 performance will mimic this.1,3
History is no barometer of future stock market performance, but it can be illuminating with
regard to how stocks have overcome the “January effect ” – a bad January does not necessarily lead
to a lousy year. In fact, here is the real eye-opener: during 1989-2014, the S&P finished up for
the year 75% of the time after a loss of 2% or greater in January, with an average annual gain of
nearly 8% in those market years. In fact, only twice in the past quarter-century has a bad January
presaged a bad year for the index (2000, 2008). This illustrates that on Wall Street, anything can
happen – and that includes good things.4
Stay patient & stay invested. Patience is a virtue for the long-term investor trying to build wealth
for retirement and other future objectives. Already, this stock market year has highlighted its
value. The Federal Reserve may elect to raise interest rates and the strong dollar may persist for
some time, but those factors may not hold back the bulls in 2015 any more than many others
have since 2009.
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not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or a recommendation
to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular
1 - ycharts.com/indicators/sp_500_monthly_return [2/9/15]
2 - markets.on.nytimes.com/research/markets/usmarkets/usmarkets.asp [2/6/15]
3 - online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-quarterly_gblstkidx.html [12/31/14]
4 - investing.com/analysis/75-of-the-time,-%27down%27-january-good-for-s-p-500%27s-yearly-close-240337 [1/31/15]