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Why Stocks Are Poised To Finish The Year Strong, And Soar Next Year

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Stocks have been surging over the last 7 weeks with the Dow up 15.1%, the S&P up 14.6%, and the Nasdaq up 17.6%.

With the Q4 rally in full swing, it looks like there’s a lot more upside to go. Not just for the rest of the year, but for 2024 as well.

The Dow just eclipsed their all-time high from January 2022, just a few days ago. And the other indexes are not far behind.

In fact, the S&P, after 23 long months of trading below their all-time highs, is only 2.11% away from making new all-time highs of their own.

Interestingly, history shows in the previous 14 times when the S&P has gone at least a full year without a new high, and then finally made one – a year later it was higher in 13 out of those 14 times, and up nearly 15% on average.

Moreover, the big gains we saw in November bodes well for more gains to follow.

Once again, history shows that when the S&P was up by more than 8% in a single month (November was up by 8.91%), (and this has happened 30 times since 1950), a year later the index was higher in 27 out of those 30 times (that’s 90% of the time), with an average return of 15.8%.

These are compelling stats.

But there are even more compelling reasons why stocks are set to soar.

Statistical Trends

Some have been surprised at how well the markets have performed this year. And when they pulled back a few short months ago, thought this was the time for things to fall apart.

But it wasn’t. The market is back to its winning ways. And looking like it’s getting ready to soar.

There’s a host of reasons why stocks did so well this year, and why they should continue to do so.

But all one had to do was look at the statistical trends to see the odds favored a strong rally this year.

For one, the 4-year Presidential Cycle shows that year 3 (that’s 2023), is the best year of all 4 years (since 1950, stocks have always gone up in the year after midterms, with an average 12-month forward return of 18.6%).

Additionally, over the last 60 years, if a bear market in the S&P goes down by -25% or more (the S&P was down by -25.4% last year between their bull market high close and their bear market low close), stocks go up on average of 38% a year later (those stats encompass 9 bear markets with 8 of those finishing in the green).

As for the remainder of the year, it should be known that Q4 is typically the best quarter of the year. And we’re seeing that play out once again

Even though there’s only 2 more weeks left in the year, December is typically a strong month. And while the first part of the month is over, history shows that the majority of the month’s gains typically come in the latter half.

As for next year, let me also note that while year 3 of the Presidential Cycle is the best year for stocks, year 4 (that’s 2024) is the second-best year.

So I’m definitely expecting this bull market to continue.

Bull Markets

As you know, all of the major indexes are in a bull market.

This is important to know because the stats of what happens after a bull market begins are worth pointing out.

In a study of the top 10 bear markets (using the Dow), the rallies that followed have been spectacular. Within a year after a bear market, stocks surge on average of 44.7%. And go on to gain an average of 66.3% by year 3.

And following the biggest bear market in that study (10/2007-3/2009 during the housing/financial crisis, aka the Great Recession), the market gained 63.4% in year 1; 100.6% by year 3; and 153.6% by year 5.

Those are portfolio transforming moves. And you don’t want to miss out.

Continued . . .


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Peak Inflation Is Behind Us

Last week’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), and Producer Price Index (PPI) inflation reports confirm that inflation is on the decline.

The core (ex-food & energy) CPI (retail inflation) is currently at 4.0% y/y. That’s down from last year’s summer high of 6.6%.

The core PPI (wholesale inflation) is at 2.0% y/y, also down from last year’s summer peak of 8.2%.

And the latest Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index (the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge), showed inflation at 3.5% y/y, down from last year’s peak of 5.3%.

Moreover, the Fed’s latest forecast is for core PCE to fall below 3% by year’s end, 2.4% in 2024, and 2.1% in 2025.

With inflation on the decline, the Fed, just this past Wednesday, paused at their last FOMC announcement of the year (their third time in row), with Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, saying “it’s not likely we will hike again.”

And with that, they forecast they will cut rates 3 times next year (presumably by 25 basis points each for a total of 75 basis points), which is 1 more rate cut than their previous estimate.

In fact, they see 3 rate cuts in 2024; 4 rate cuts in 2025; and 3 rate cuts in 2026. That would put the Fed Funds midpoint at 4.63% in 2024; 3.63% in 2025; and 2.88% in 2026. (Currently it’s at 5.38%.)

Although, many are expecting the Fed will cut rates 4-5 times next year (100 to 125 basis points), and begin as early as March.

Either way, rates ceasing to go higher, and beginning to go lower next year, is bullish for the market.

The Outlook Is For Growth

At the same time, the Fed has ratcheted up their forecast for economic growth.

They now see full-year GDP coming in at 2.6% for this year, up from their previous estimate of 2.1%, and 1.0% before that. And they see growth in 2024 and 2025 as well.

Granted, there’s still a couple more weeks left in the year, but the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, via their GDP Now forecast, is estimating Q4 GDP to come in at 2.6%.

That comes on the heels of Q3’s blistering 5.2% growth rate, following Q2’s 2.1%, and Q1’s 2.0%.

For those still talking about a recession, it’s hard to make a case for that (defined as 2 quarters in a row of negative GDP), when the economy is expanding.

Additionally, the World Bank released a report earlier this year, and they increased their global growth rate from 1.7% to 2.1%.

Moreover, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), also released a report where they projected a global growth rate of 2.7% this year, and commented that the global economy is showing signs of improvement.

So that 2.1% or 2.7% growth rate could very well be upwardly revised yet again.

Turning our attention back to the U.S., it’s also worth noting that personal incomes are hovering near all-time highs. And consumer spending remains strong. Important points when you consider that 70% of our GDP is driven by consumer spending.

And with the jobs market still so tight, that continues to underpin the economy.

None of that is consistent with a recession, and why the outlook is for growth.

Stocks Are Undervalued

Let’s also not forget that valuations are down.

While the P/E ratio for the S&P has risen from last year’s lows, they are still down sharply from 2021’s peak, and are below where they were the last time stocks were at this level.

And that makes stocks a bargain.

At the same time, the earnings outlook is one of stability, and for many, growth.

Not only did this past earnings season come in better than expected, companies largely provided reassuring guidance for the coming quarters, with many upping their outlook.

One look at the sales and earnings estimates for the S&P, and you can see the expected upward trend of improvement. For example: Q1 of 2024 is expected to show sales up 5.9% with earnings up 3.7%. And Q2 is expecting sales to be up 11.1% with earnings up 4.7%.

An improving outlook indeed.

And stocks should follow suit.

Do What Works 

So how do you fully take advantage of the market right now?

By implementing tried and true methods that work to find the best stocks.

For example, did you know that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buy have beaten the market in 29 of the last 35 years (an 82% win ratio) with an average annual return of more than 24% per year? That's more than 2 x the S&P, including 4 bear markets and 4 recessions. And consistently beating the market year after year can add up to a lot more than just two times the returns.

Did you also know that stocks in the top 50% of Zacks Ranked Industries outperform those in the bottom 50% by a factor of 2 to 1? There's a reason why they say that half of a stock's price movement can be attributed to the group that it's in. Because it's true!

Those two things will give any investor a huge probability of success and put you well on your way to beating the market.

But you’re not there yet, as those two items alone will only narrow down a field of 10,000 stocks to the top 100 or so. Way too many to trade at once.

So, the next step is to get that list down to the best 5-10 stocks that you can buy.

Proven Profitable Strategies

Picking the best stocks is a lot easier when there’s a proven, profitable method to do it.

And by concentrating on what has proven to work in the past, you’ll have a better idea as to what your probability of success will be now and in the future.

Of course, this won't preclude you from ever having another losing trade. But if your stock picking strategy picks winners more often than losers, you can feel confident that your next trade will have a high probability of success.

Here are a few of my favorite strategies that have regularly crushed the market year after year.

New Highs: Studies have shown that stocks making new highs have a tendency of making even higher highs. And this strategy proves it. The alignment of positive price action and strong fundamentals creates all the necessary conditions to see these stocks soar to even greater heights. Over the last 23 years (2000 through 2022), using a 1-week rebalance, the average annual return has been 38.7% vs. the S&P’s 6.2%, which is 6.2 x the market.

Small-Cap Growth: Small-caps have historically outperformed the market time and time again. Often these are newer companies in the early part of their growth cycle, which is when they grow the fastest. This strategy combines the aggressive growth of small-caps with our special blend of growth and valuation metrics for explosive returns. Over the last 23 years (2000 through 2022), using a 1-week rebalance, the average annual return has been 46.4%, beating the market by 7.4 x the returns.

Filtered Zacks Rank 5: This strategy leverages the Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys, and adds two time-tested filters to narrow the list of stocks down to five high probability picks each week. Over the last 23 years (2000 through 2022), using a 1-week rebalance, the average annual return has been 49.5%, which is 7.9 x the market.

The best part about these strategies (aside from the returns) is that all of the testing and hard work has already been done. There’s no guesswork involved. Just point and click and start getting into better stocks on your very next trade.

Where To Start

There’s a simple way to add a big performance advantage for your stock-picking success. It's called the Zacks Method for Trading: Home Study Course.

With this fun, interactive online program, you can master the Zacks Rank in your own home and at your own pace. You don’t have to attend a single class or seminar.

Zacks Method for Trading covers the investment ideas I just shared and guides you to better trading step by step, plus so much more.

You'll quickly see how to get the most out of the proven system that has more than doubled the market for over three decades. Discover what kind of trader you are, how to find stocks with the highest probability of success, and how to trade them so you can consistently beat the market no matter where stock prices are headed.

You’ll get the formulas behind our top-performing strategies suited for a variety of different trading styles.

The best of these strategies produced gains up to +39.7% in 2022 while the S&P 500 lost -18.2%.¹

The course will also help you create and test your own stock-picking strategies.

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Thanks and good trading,


Zacks Executive VP Kevin Matras is responsible for all of our trading and investing services. He developed many of our most powerful market-beating strategies and directs the Zacks Method for Trading: Home Study Course.

¹ The individual strategies mentioned herein represent only a portion of the ones covered in the course.


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