This is the correction we’ve been expecting and it’s affecting stocks as well as commodities. The stock market has been due for a correction after a solid first-quarter earnings season and, because share prices moved so strongly since the beginning of the year. It doesn’t really matter what the catalyst is for the correction; it is well-deserved and a healthy development in my view.
I think the S&P 500 Index is vulnerable now to the 1,300 level and, if it gets there, this would be a meaningful correction and a good buying opportunity for higher dividend paying, large-cap companies. Generally speaking, I think we’re in a time now where the stock market will be more apt to reward income over growth. Large-cap, dividend paying stocks have been leading the stock market since last October and I think this trend will continue right into 2013.
Along with large-cap stocks, both smaller companies and commodities are also experiencing a pullback. Growth concerns in the global economy are real and whether it’s related to price inflation in China or sovereign debt problems in Europe, the new normal is slower economic growth rates, especially among mature economies.
I don’t see any reason why the U.S. stock market can’t reaccelerate this year, especially as we are likely to see sporadic improvement in the economic news. And, while the outlook for corporate earnings isn’t robust, it’s still solid and stock market valuations are reasonable. Investment risk remains high for all equities, but it’s been like this since the financial crisis.
I think that big corporations are keeping earnings expectations purposefully low, in order to outperform come earnings season. (See Earnings Reflect Expectations—the Stock Market Is Fairly Valued.) It’s a way of providing shareholders with “good news” in a slow growth environment. One thing we are getting though is increased dividends and this is great news if you like dividends income with the potential for capital gains. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ/INTC) was the latest brand-name company to up its dividends payment to shareholders and, with so much cash building up on corporate balance sheets, increasing dividends news should continue throughout the year.
As I’ve said, this stock market correction is healthy and well-deserved. The stock market is fairly valued and this gives us a lot of breathing room for a pullback. If I were an equity investor looking for new positions this year, I’d wait until the correction plays itself out and I’d be watching my favorite dividend paying stocks for a good entry point. I still like gold investments for speculators; but, to me, dividends are king in this kind of market.