Everyone loves a good forecast. Problem is they are hard to come by – good forecasts. Like the broken clock, they are likely to be right twice a day. In reality, a positive market forecast has about a 70 percent chance of being right on the overall direction. In most decades, seven or eight years are positive.
Many things can change, and it’s easy to be biased to your past experiences, or the most recent events. Yet, readers yearn for a year-ahead forecast. I will go ahead and make some market predictions for 2018, with the usual caveats.
First, it can’t be overlooked that 2017 was a fantastic year for the markets. I thought it would be for three main reasons. Investor sentiment was low, corporate earnings were accelerating, and I felt the likely changes in Washington would be well received by the markets.
In my opinion, 2018 has positives in all three of these categories again. Most investors I hear from still wonder if the market has gone too high, and talk of the inevitable pullback. Sure, there will definitely be some pullback periods. People are more positive, but they are so worried about giving it all back. We are overdue for more turbulent moves, but this kind of sentiment is healthy for a continued rise in the markets. I’ll be more worried when I get stock tips from my Uber driver, and people are wanting to chase the market to the upside.
Corporate earnings continue to look great, and the overall U.S. economy is starting to accelerate at growth levels we haven’t seen much of in the last decade. Europe is looking even better than us right now. I believe we will see another year of outperformance from most International holdings.
Studies have shown that most of the benefit from a tax cut is seen in the first year. I think we are likely to see very solid growth numbers from consumer spending in 2018. Brick-and-mortar retail had a terrible 2017. The e-commerce wave won’t go away, but I think traditional retail will see a much-improved year.
All this leads me to believe we will see another good year in the stock market in 2018. I don’t think there is an elevated chance of a recession starting, or even showing the first signs of one during the year. The global economy is experiencing a synchronicity that we haven’t seen since the mid-2000’s. As always, a black-swan event could disrupt things, but I never believe one should plan their lives in fear of this. You would miss out on far too many positive things in life.
We at Stewardship Capital wish you the very best year ahead in 2018! We continue to monitor the ever-changing global investment landscape, ready to make changes as we see fit.
Aaron Pickert, CRPC, is associate adviser at Stewardship Capital in Independence. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.