Broker Check

Welcome to the Fourth Quarter

October 04, 2016
Burt WhiteChief Investment Officer, LPL Financial
Ryan Detrick, CMT Senior Market Strategist, LPL Financial
Jeffrey Buchbinder, CFA Market Strategist, LPL Financial

2016 is a year no one will soon forget. It was the worst start to a year ever for the S&P 500 after 28 trading days (down 10.5%), only to bounce back and actually finish positive by the end of the first quarter. During the second quarter, the bounce in equities continued and the S&P 500 made its first new all-time high in 14 months.

After a very volatile first half of the year, in August the S&P 500 traded in its tightest monthly range in more than 20 years. But the “v word” - volatility - has started to come back, as the S&P 500 has closed at least half a percent higher or lower for eight straight days for the first time in eight months, wrapping up the third quarter of 2016.

Adding to the case that 2016 has gone against the norm, the S&P 500 gained 3.4% during the historically weak third quarter, the best third quarter return in three years. What does the fourth quarter hold? With a highly contested election coming (among other big events), it will be anything but boring.

Best Quarter of the Year
The S&P 500 is up four straight quarters and 13 of the past 15. You have to go back to the mid-1990s to find the last time we saw that. Although this run is impressive, the good news is that historically the best quarter of the year is upon us. Going back to 1950, the final three months of the year are up 4.1% on average and higher nearly 79% of the time - making this quarter the best time for equities.  In general, the first and fourth quarters are the two strongest, while the second and third quarters tend to be weaker.
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