Investors are reacting with caution as the coronavirus continues to claim more lives and spread around the globe.
The three major U.S. indexes experienced approximately 1%–2% drops earlier this week. In an interview with CNBC, Jeffrey Mills, the chief investment officer of Bryn Mawr Trust, said high valuations combined with reactions to headlines about the virus could make the market vulnerable to a 10% pullback. Mills added that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see additional headlines come out that might shake the markets a bit.”
Mills told CNBC that “a 5% to 10% drawdown would bring us right around the upward sloping 200-day moving average [for the S&P 500] around 3,000.” In this case, he said, his firm would buy.
Mills added that, though he believes the average peak-to-trough drawdown in any given year is roughly 12%, right now this is all happening “within the confines of an ongoing economic expansion and ongoing bull market.” CNBC reports that Mills “expects near-term volatility will give investors a key entry point to pick up stock bargains.”
Fears about the coronavirus have caused the market to go down only one day this week. However, events can quickly turn. CNBC recently reported that the outbreak now tops 6,000 cases in China, noting that the chief executive of Novartis believes a vaccine for the virus may take more than a year to develop. British Airways has canceled all flights to and from China. CNBC also reports that the International Ski Federation has canceled its first official Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 test event and that General Motors will keep its Chinese factories closed until February 9.
Finland confirmed its first coronavirus case around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 29), according to CNBC. The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding a meeting and press conference to determine whether the virus constitutes a global health emergency, but it does acknowledge that the coronavirus is of “grave concern” as it continues to pass through human-to-human interaction, says CNBC.
The 2002 SARS outbreak cost the global economy $40 billion. Investors are proceeding with caution in case it happens again, reports NBC. Markets could see this as a small blip on the radar, and the bull market that has been going on since the beginning of 2019 could continue. However, if WHO deems this a global health emergency, markets could see the correction that Jeffery Mills mentioned. Either way, the global economic outlook, though currently strong, could change depending on how the coronavirus continues its path.
Sectors: The average momentum score for the Sector Benchmark ETFs decreased from 27.09 to 15.82. Momentum decreased in all but one of the 11 sectors last week. With a 7-point gain, Utilities was the only sector to post an increase in momentum score for the week. Energy, with a 30-point decrease, had the largest drop in momentum score for the week. Technology remained in the top spot despite a 9-point decrease in momentum score.
Factors: Among the Factor Benchmark ETFs, the average factor score decreased from 28.83 to 16.83. Momentum decreased in all 12 factors last week. With a 24-point decrease, High Beta had the largest drop in momentum score. Despite a 3-point decrease in momentum score, Momentum bumped High Beta out of the top spot. Value fell to last place after a 21-point decrease in momentum score.
Global: The average Global Benchmark ETF momentum score decreased from 24.27 to 7.91. Momentum in the global sector decreased in all 11 regions last week. China had the largest drop in momentum score with a loss of 41 points. The loss pushed China from first place to second to last. Despite a 12-point decrease in momentum score, USA replaced China at the top.