COVID-19 and The Market

Historic market volatility has washed over the globe in recent weeks. The spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by coronavirus) has precipitated a record drop in the stock market and a sharp plunge in bond yields, sending the U.S. into its first bear market in over a decade. People around the world are facing a health crisis that’s driving an economic crisis, which are leading to high levels of anxiety for families and individuals regarding their well-being and financial situation. Unfortunately, it’s too soon to tell just how long this environment will last. So, what can you do to cope with market volatility in the meantime? And what can we learn from past global pandemics?

Virus Outbreaks and Stock Market Performance

There is no doubt that this pandemic is different and has caused a larger dislocation than past virus outbreaks. However, it’s still encouraging to note how financial markets have historically rallied following major health crises. The S&P 500® Index reveals that markets have generally delivered positive returns in the six to 12 months following the peak of a virus outbreak.

This isn’t to say that investors should stick their heads in the sand and pretend the downturn isn’t happening — this is a very serious and difficult situation. Eventually though, markets should return to some level of normal and slowly, the economy will come back to life. Of course, the past is no guarantee of future results, but historically, even the worst markets have been temporary dips in a general march higher for stocks.

What you can do during this time of volatility:

Remember the power of diversification:
Instead of selling your stocks in an attempt to cut losses, review your portfolio to see if it is properly balanced between stocks, bonds and cash that align with your goals, time horizon and ability to manage risk. While a diversified portfolio can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses, it can greatly reduce the impact of volatility.

Stay focused on your long-term goals:
Remember, your investment strategy is based on your goals, not headlines. While it’s important to be aware of the news related to COVID-19, particularly from a health perspective, don’t let your emotions affect your investing. Keep your  portfolio on a steady course. Volatile periods in the market can create good opportunities to either invest more or to adjust your portfolio. Ensure that any investment decisions you make are in line with your long-term interests and financial objectives.

Revisit your views on risk:
A significant market downturn serves to remind you that investing involves risk. Market swings provide an opportunity to reassess your portfolio’s risk level and determine whether that amount is appropriate for your circumstances. The level of comfort (or discomfort) you feel when the market fluctuates substantially is a good way to assess whether your portfolio reflects your current risk profile.

Meet with a financial professional:
If you are concerned about the recent performance of the markets, contact your financial advisor. Together, you can talk about your financial goals for the future and what steps you can take next to start on the path to achieving them.

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Michael W. K. Yee, CFP®, CFS®, CLTC, CRPC ® is a Private Wealth Advisor, Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 35 years. Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise

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Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.
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