The Coronavirus Outbreak Is Spreading

News that the coronavirus—known as COVID-19—has spread to South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Iran, has led to massive selling around the globe, with many European markets closing down more than 4%. U.S. stock markets are selling off hard as well, with the S&P 500 Index down nearly 3% in early trading on Monday.

“Although the fear over the pandemic is real, and the potential slowdown in the global economy could hurt 2020 corporate profits, let’s not forget that big down days are part of what long-term investors have had to accept,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick.

As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, an average year has more than five separate days with at least a 2% correction for the S&P 500 Index. Even last year, with stocks up 30%, there were five separate days that saw the S&P 500 close down at least 2%.

The United States had held up relatively well in the face of the growing COVID-19 crisis. In fact, according to LPL Research’s friend Sam Stovall of CFRA, the S&P 500 actually gained 1.6% a month after the first reported coronavirus case in the United States on January 21. As the chart below shows, stock market gains historically have been normal after the initial outbreak of various health crises have reached the United States.

Now, could the coronavirus impact the global economy more than previous epidemics and pandemics? That’s clearly a strong possibility, as global supply chains have come to a halt in the world’s second largest economy (China). The good news, though, is corporate America just reported a very impressive earnings season, so the chances of an impending U.S. earnings season recession appear quite low. Read more about the recent earnings season in Corporate America Impresses.

Lastly, we’d like to stress that pullbacks and market corrections happen and are part of long-term investing. In fact, since 1980 the average year has experienced a pullback from peak to trough of 13.7%. Even more impressive: Looking at the 29 years that stocks have been green since 1980, we see the average year had a correction of 10.9%!

We will continue to monitor the impact of the coronavirus situation very closely. In the meantime, long-term equity investors should consider staying the course and contact me for specific recommendations.

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