Chart of the week

Stock returns flat amid 18 months of market gyrations

This week’s chart shows why a seesawing equities market could mean challenged forward-looking returns for investors.

May 31, 2019 | 1 minute read
S&P 500 Index
  • U.S. stocks fell more than 1% on Wednesday and are now down nearly 6% from their early-May peak.1 The significant volatility that stocks saw this week highlights the larger down-up-down moves investors experienced as the past 18 months delivered three record highs.
  • Despite the significant rally that stocks saw early this year, investors have still experienced a modestly negative return of approximately -2.5% since October 2018.1 Stock returns over a longer-term period have been similarly challenged.
  • Since the S&P 500 hit its late January 2018 peak of approximately 2,850, for example, it has seen significant swings. As the chart shows, however, with the index at 2,780, it sits slightly under its January 2018 high.1 In the nearly 18-month period, the S&P 500 has generated a meager total return of just 0.7%.1
  • Forward earnings expectations for 2019 have already declined significantly from one year ago as the global economic slowdown takes shape. Against this backdrop, investors could remain challenged in finding competitive returns across traditional asset classes.

  • S&P 500 Index, as of May 30, 2019.

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