Monday, 2 April 2018

After March fall, analysts hoping for better April

Stock markets rose last week but ended the month and quarter with losses.

The S&P 500 rose 2.1 percent last week but fell 2.7 percent for March as a whole and 1.2 percent for the first quarter.

The STOXX Europe 600 rose 1.4 percent but fell 2.3 percent for March and 4.7 percent for the first quarter.

Some analysts expect better performances for stocks in April.

Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial told CNBC last week: "From a purely seasonality point of view, April is a pretty good month and we think with this little bounce we got right at the end of March, here we think you have a good chance of it continuing."

"April is actually the second-best month of the year, and it has risen 69 percent of the time," said Samuel Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. "The average price gain is 1.4 percent, versus 0.67 percent for all months."

However, Stovall also noted that the market is "down an average 2.2 percent during midterm election years, and it doesn't get much better in the third quarter".

On the other hand, stock market valuations have come down. The S&P 500 is now trading at 16.1 times projected earnings for the next year, according to FactSet, down from 18.6 in late January. Corporate profits are projected to jump 18.5 percent this year.

Mary Ann Bartels, head of portfolio strategy at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, said that if earnings turn out as strong as expected, "we can finally recover from this correction".

Indeed, Detrick said that if the earnings hit the expected numbers, "this could really be a buying opportunity and we'll have significant, potentially double-digit, gains before the year is over".

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