Looking back on the first half of 2023, it’s probably fair to say the outcome has been a bit better-than-expected for the stock and bond markets, especially compared to 2022’s tumult.
Here are the major points have we learned through the first half of the year:
- Inflation’s path is not endlessly higher. The return to some post-COVID-19 supply/demand normalcy and an ease in input costs have helped push the inflation rate down—which has helped both stock and bond markets bounce back.
- Still-strong consumer spending and a stubbornly tight jobs market have helped the U.S. avert a recession…so far. The Federal Reserve continued to raise interest rates, but we believe they may begin reducing rates as early as Q4 2023 or Q1 2024.
- Bonds look like bonds again. After enduring a generational period of weakness in 2022, bonds are back and should be considered important ballasts in a multi-asset portfolio.
For the bond market we believe there are still plenty of opportunities for both capital appreciation and attractive income generation—assuming both inflation and interest rates continue to glide lower, as we believe they will. For income-oriented investors, the bond market could offer an opportunity that has not existed in over 15 years. This is a good thing!
Turning to stocks…the market has already put in some notable gains for the year. With recession risks still looming, investors may consider being less aggressive with their portfolios than they were the first half of the year. This doesn’t mean stocks cannot go up from here, but rather that the risk/reward equation in stocks and bonds looks evenly balanced. And of course your time horizon, and overall financial plan and willingness to take risk will determine how your portfolio is invested.
The key issue here is recession. We have already seen a push lower in corporate earnings expectations. Some weakening in manufacturing and services indicators, and early signs that the consumer could be slowing down, point to the likelihood of a mild recession to come. This view is reinforced by the expectation that the jobs market could weaken modestly through the end of this year.
Overall, the opportunities in the second half of the year may not be as robust as in the first half. However, after a bumpy 2022, investors should be encouraged that wading back into the market could bear some fruit in the coming months. In fact, the difficulty we witnessed last year likely helps lay the groundwork for further market stabilization as we press ahead. Despite our mild recession outlook, we believe there are still definitive investment prospects to uncover.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
All data is provided as of July 3, 2023.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.
All index data from FactSet.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P500) is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.
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Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.
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