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NEW YORK: Name all the economic rationales you want for the rebound, there’s something to be said for just having a high threshold for pain.
That may be the simplest explanation for the recent path of US stocks, which just strung together the longest streak of weekly gains in almost a year, despite evidence a recession is at hand as the Federal Reserve battles inflation.
The economy cools, war flares and officials vow further hikes – and investors somehow look past it, pushing tech stocks tracked by the Nasdaq 100 into a bull market last Wednesday.
While damage done in the first half obviously helped, curbing valuation excesses, several less-visible factors may be playing a role in keeping the calm.
A note from JPMorgan Chase & Co researchers last week pointed to supply-demand benefits created by buybacks and the dearth of new equity offerings, while others cite the hard-to-perturb presence of buy-and-hold investors in the expanding chunk of the market owned by passive funds.
“It’s the combination of share repurchases and the stability of passive capital that is acting as an anti-gravity force,” Lawrence Creatura, a fund manager at PRSPCTV Capital LLC, said in an interview.
“They’ve been buying, and it’s on autopilot. That’s definitely a source of stability.”,
About US$6 trillion (RM27 trillion) has been restored to equity values so far. Could it all reverse?
Yes. Big voices on Wall Street have spent the past month telling clients that the gain since mid-June is just another bear-market mirage – that this time won’t be different for anyone holding stocks into a recession.
For all the assurance, those warnings make relatively little mention of investors’ formidable capacity to live with pain over the last few years. That includes a stretch in which the S&P 500 surged almost 70% as a global pandemic and recession were putting 10 million Americans out of work.
Today, recession warnings are a dime a dozen, inflation remains very high, jobless claims are inching up and manufacturing readings have been softening.
Overseas, Russia’s war with Ukraine is snarling supply chains and boosting commodities prices, while a slowdown in China is sowing worry about the future of global growth.
And yet the market stays resilient. The S&P 500 added 3.3% for its fourth straight weekly advance.
The Nasdaq 100 extended its gains from the June trough past 20%, a threshold viewed by some as a sign that the bear market is over.
One force at work is corporations themselves. While paring back share offerings, firms and their management stepped up purchases of their own stock through buybacks and leveraged buyouts during the first-half sell-off.