NEW YORK — You might want to sit down before checking on your investment portfolio.
2016 hasn’t been kind to people with money in the stock market. The Dow is now down 1,451 points this year, while the S&P 500 is off 9% and remains near two-year lows. The Nasdaq is flirting with a bear market and the global stock market is already there.
“Sentiment is quite negative and investors are losing patience with the ineffectiveness of central banks to create any meaningful growth,” said David Lafferty, chief market strategist at Natixis Global Asset Management.
U.S. stocks took a break from the losses on Friday. The Dow closed 314 points higher, while the S&P 500 gained nearly 2%. It was the stock market’s second-best day of what’s otherwise been a dreary 2016.
Wall Street’s better mood was fueled by an incredible 12% surge for oil prices and a big rebound for banks, easing the market’s two biggest headaches of late. The bounce was also driven by a sense that the recent selling may be overdone.
“We do not believe the S&P 500 sinks into a bear market,” said Sean Lynch, co-head global equity strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “The fundamentals would have to deteriorate further in order to see more material downside.”
The S&P 500 has tumbled 13% from all-time highs. It would have to be down 20% to qualify for bear status.
The terrible year for stocks has been underpinned by worries that a slowing global economy could sink the U.S. into recession.
But it’s important to remember that while U.S. stocks are tanking, the American economy isn’t. Yes, growth slowed at the end of 2016. However, it’s widely expected to rebound early this year.
Investors got a fresh reminder of that on Friday when the government said retail sales rose by 0.2% in January, exceeding expectations. The news helped lift the markets higher.
For now, oil prices are likely to continue playing an outsized role in dictating what happens with stocks. For instance, the S&P 500 plunged to two-year lows on Thursday as crude oil collapsed to $26 a barrel. Stocks then followed oil higher on Friday as crude jumped to $29.44 a barrel, chalking up its best day since 2009.
Investors will also continue to keep a close eye on bank stocks. The group has easily been the worst performer of 2016, losing 14% of its value. But banks bounced back on Friday, led by an 8% surge for JPMorgan Chase after CEO Jamie Dimon plunked down $26.6 million of his own money to buy its stock.
European banks, another trouble spot for the market, also ended the week on a high note. Deutsche Bank soared 12% after saying it will buy back billions of its own debt. It’s a show of confidence after the bank was recently forced to repeatedly deny rumors of a liquidity crisis.