August 2018 Market Update - July is hot for weather AND stocks

Most Julys are times the market barely budges. But not this year. All the indexes we track were up for the month. The Dow was up the most at 4.71%, the S&P 500 was up 3.61%. NASDAQ was up 2.16% and the Russell 2000 index was up 1.70%. July turned out to be a great month across the board. There was a lot of angst about possible trade wars with China and the EU, especially in the news media. But investors threw off those fears and plowed ahead. As I write about the bull market below, the Dow is still a little over a thousand points below the record it set in January. Will it continue higher and go on to set a new record? This market could have another rally left in it. The economy is rocking right along with an annual rate of GDP growth pegged at 4.1% for the second quarter of 2018. Unemployment continues to trend downward. Optimism is high and rising. All that is great, but it scares me to death. An economic downturn is usually not too far behind when there is great optimism, very low unemployment and the Fed is steadily raising interest rates. We have all that now. And the stock market plunges BEFORE we go into recession. I’m certainly not saying that a market crash is about to happen any day. I am saying most people won’t see it coming until it hits them between the eyes. For the people reading this column and who have their accounts at Schwab with us, now is the time to be happy we are actively managing your accounts. While we may be near fully invested right now, we will not hesitate to reduce our equity holdings when our research points to a potential market crash. That’s what we do. That’s how we work to keep your assets as protected as possible.