The S&P 500 has hit a record high 53 times this year with the broad index up about 20 per cent year-to-date. But what will September, historically the weakest month for stocks, and the rest of the year bring?

“Equity markets are priced for perfection in a world that remains distinctly imperfect,” according to DataTrek co-founder Nicholas Colas.

Here are seven risk factors that could upend the historic rally in the stock market for the remainder of the year and the likelihood of them occurring.

by Matthew Fox, Business Insider

1. Weak seasonality for the month of September.

“Since 1928, September is the only month to show more down months than up – 50 down versus 42 up. September is the only month to show a noticeable negative average return at -1%.

The historical data confirms there is something ‘special’ about September, but at a mean return of negative 1% this fact falls into the ‘good to know’ bucket rather than something more worrisome.”

2. A geopolitical event that hurts consumer confidence.

“Post-World War II historical examples include 9/11 and the second Gulf War. Most of the chatter at present revolves around China/Taiwan and/or what may come from the change of control in Afghanistan.


We tend to discount the former, if only because of the obvious risks associated with large-scale military action during a pandemic. The latter is impossible to assess with any clarity, which is precisely why it is a risk.”

3. “An oil shock as a distinct variant of the above concern.”

“Examples include 1973 (Saudi oil embargo) and 1979 (Iranian Revolution), of course, but also 1990 – 1991 (first Gulf War) and even 2008 (oil at $140/barrel).

Each had a negative effect on discretionary income since oil prices rose dramatically. Oil shocks, simply put, have caused more recessions than any other sort of event over the last 50 years.”

4. “Delta and other pandemic variants force a return of economic lockdowns.”

“The current US/European infection data appears to be peaking but we are going into Fall and Winter, when transmission rates rose last year.


Vaccination rates vary by region (US) and country (Europe), so virus spread remains an issue.”

5. “Q3 earnings season doesn’t surprise meaningfully.”

“Wall Street’s earnings expectations for 2020 are up 20 percent since the start of the year ($167/share to $201/share). The S&P 500 is up 20 percent YTD.

Not to be glib, but that’s pretty much all you need to know about why US large caps are where they are. And why it is so important that Q3 earnings surprise to the upside.”

6. “Washington DC policy/news flow.”

“So many things can go wrong. Neither infrastructure bill passes. President Biden chooses a controversial new Fed Chair. The Federal Debt Limit debates take a nasty turn and cause a protracted government shutdown.


Chair Powell flubs tapering or rate policy communications. Congress is slow to act if the pandemic suddenly worsens and further fiscal stimulus is needed.”

7. “Further slowing of the Chinese economy.”

“Given our recent work highlighting reduced pollution levels across China’s major cities, we were not surprised by yesterday’s reports that economic growth there appears to be faltering.

On top of this, the country’s policymakers have a lot of irons in the fire just now, ranging from a local Big Tech crackdown to a zero-tolerance pandemic policy.”

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