The S&P 500 gained 3.6% during the historically bullish month of July 2016, closing higher for the fifth consecutive month for the first time in two years. It also soared to new all-time highs for the first time since May 21, 2015. As discussed in our Weekly Market Commentary, “Overcoming a Wall of Worries” (June 20, 2016), the list of worries had been long, but we thought an improving economic backdrop coupled with strong market breadth and a very pessimistic sentiment backdrop should help the market resolve higher, which fortunately happened.
Now the big question is, can this strength continue and the S&P 500 close higher in August to make it six straight months of gains? Although we continue to expect an improving economic backdrop in the second half of the year and a stock market with the potential to make more new highs before the year is over, there are some growing near-term concerns — making the odds of some type of a late summer correction more likely. The good news is we do think this weakness will be an opportunity to add to equity exposure and higher prices could still come later this year.