Coronavirus is not a catalyst for the stock market

By Dale Gillham. Published at Feb 14, 2020, in Market Wrap

Let me start this report off by asking whether you think the Australian economy is in a slump? No doubt, your response will depend on who you have been listening to.

If you pick up any newspaper, invariably there is someone trying to convince you the economy is good, while others are saying it’s bad. Economists are continually communicating that retail figures and consumer spending is below expectations, yet at the same time the property market is booming. So what is going on and, more importantly, what should you do about it?

According to Austrade, Australia is the 14th largest economy in the world at 1.4 per cent of global GDP, and it has had 28 years of uninterrupted annual economic growth. Austrade is also forecasting annual real GDP growth in Australia of 2.7 per cent over the next five years.

If we achieve this, Australia will be growing faster than the USA, UK and Europe, although we will still lag behind China, India and other Asian countries which are expected to grow between 5 and 7 per cent. Given this, it would appear the worst is behind us and we can look forward to a bright future.

While understanding the economic climate is important, what’s even more important is how this affects your investments in the stock market. Future earnings or growth in the stock market is factored in at least six months in advance. In other words, the stock market is a leading indicator as to the health of our economy. Right now, the stock market is bullish and regulars of this report know that I expect it will continue to be bullish throughout 2020 and beyond.

While the Coronavirus will continue to have some economic impact on the Australian economy for some to come, it is not nor will it be a catalyst for our market to turn bearish or crash. It is simply a speed hump that may slow down some areas of the market, but it won’t stop the bull run.

Given this, investors would be wise to ride the waves rather than jump ship.

So what are the best and worst performing sectors?

Once again the market has risen strongly although this week the charge has been led by Financials up over 2 per cent so far, which is a good sign. That said, the Financial sector is still down from its high in March 2015 by 11 per cent, and if the market is to remain bullish this sector needs to continue to rise. Consumer Discretionary is also up over 2 per cent, as is Healthcare, which is still performing well, up over 60 per cent since 1 January 2019.

Once again, Energy is the worst performer although it is only slightly in the red for the week as is Materials while Consumer Staples is slightly in the green. Don’t discount these sectors for opportunities moving forward, as I believe they will provide many opportunities in the coming year.

Looking at the top 100 stocks, the best performers include Challenger which is up over 13 per cent while TPG gapped up over 11 per cent on news that it can now merge with Vodaphone. At one stage TPG was up 20 per cent on the day of the announcement, although it fell to close out the day where it started. While I believe the merger is great news, I am not convinced that TPG is bullish, so I am sitting on the fence right now. Other stocks that performed well so far this week include Virgin Money and Evolution Mining, both up around 9 per cent.

So what's next for the Australian share market?

The All Ordinaries Index has shown how resilient it is, rising once again this week. Given this, I need to revisit my original thinking as it now looks like it will remain bullish and move up over the next three to four weeks. Right now, it is sitting at the lower end of my original target of 7,200 points, and I believe it will trade up to my top end target of 7,600 points to make a new all-time high that I have been expecting.

Dale Gillham is Chief Analyst at Wealth Within and international bestselling author of How to Beat the Managed Funds by 20%. He is also the author of Accelerate Your Wealth—It’s Your Money, Your Choice, which is available in bookstores and online at www.wealthwithin.com.au

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