The wild ride of 2020 continues, with the S&P 500 Index down 20% in the first quarter and up 20% in the second quarter. Much like dropping a 20 dollar bill and picking it up, this doesn’t mean you are 20 dollars wealthier. Down 20% and then up 20% actually comes out to a 4% drop for the first half of the year.

What does a negative first half of the year tell us? Turns out, gains could be hard to come by the second half of this year. “Although 2020 is like nothing we’ve seen before, the fact of the matter is a weak first half of the year could mean weaker than normal returns for the rest of the year,” according to LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick.

In fact, the S&P 500 had been higher in the first six months of the year a record nine consecutive years before being lower in 2020. Since 1950, there were 48 times when the first six months were higher and the rest of the year gained 77% of the time and added 5.8% on average those final six months. Compare that with when the first six months of the year were lower 21 times, the final six months were higher only 52% of the time and up only 1.2% on average.

As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, a move higher is quite likely after strength in the first six months of the year, while very modest gains could be in the cards if those first six months underwhelm.

View enlarged chart.

Be on the lookout for our Midyear Outlook 2020, set to be released on July 14, for more of our thoughts on what the second half of 2020 could bring. Last, don’t forget to listen to our latest LPL Market Signals podcast, where we discuss trends impacting markets right now.



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