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A prolonged COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a sharp correction in the stock market, IMF warns

A prolonged COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a sharp correction in the stock market, IMF warns

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  • Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue for longer than expected, the economic consequences will likely lead to a sharp correction in global stocks, the IMF warned on Tuesday.
  • Extraordinary policy measures from governments around the world helped stem the decline in stocks since the initial February decline, but underlying economic conditions remain weak and the future outlook is highly uncertain, the IMF said. 
  • Investor worry over a potential prolonged COVID-19 pandemic could have been heightened on Tuesday after Johnson & Johnson paused its phase III vaccine trial due to an unexpected illness.
  • As long as investor optimism over easy fiscal and monetary policy continues, stocks can stay elevated for some time, but a significantly delayed economic recovery due to the persistence of COVID-19 could put a serious dent in that optimism, according to the IMF.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic decline led to a sizable stock market correction that was stabilized thanks to extraordinary fiscal and monetary policy measures from governments around the world.

But there’s a real financial disconnect between the stock market and the economy, and while the disconnect could narrow if a swift and sustainable economic recovery materializes, the opposite could happen if the economic recovery is delayed due to it taking longer to get COVID-19 under control, the IMF warned on Tuesday.

“As long as investors believe that markets will continue to benefit from policy support, asset valuations may stay elevated for some time. Nonetheless, and especially if the economic recovery is delayed, there is a risk of a sharp adjustment in asset prices or periodic bouts of volatility,” the IMF said. 

Easy monetary policies like low interest rates and the buying of distressed assets, combined with fiscal stimulus, helped maintain the flow

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Why the stock market’s sharp rally off March lows is even stronger than in seems, according to one Wall Street chief strategist

Why the stock market’s sharp rally off March lows is even stronger than in seems, according to one Wall Street chief strategist



a group of people standing in front of a computer: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images


© Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images
Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

  • The market’s leadership is wider than perceived and consists of more than just the largest tech stocks, James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, said Friday.
  • While cyclical sectors trail the S&P 500 by 5% on a market-weighted basis, they exceed the benchmark on an equal-weighted basis, Paulsen highlighted.
  • Similarly, the S&P 500’s outperformance over the small-cap-focused S&P 600 is halved when market weighting isn’t taken into account.
  • Strong gains from tech giants “distorted many traditional market signals” and possibly shifted investors’ views of the market, the strategist added.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Cyclical and small-cap stocks aren’t getting the credit they deserve for the market’s rapid recovery, James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, said Friday.

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Tech giants played an undeniably large role in lifting indexes from their March lows. Crowding in mega-caps hit dot-com-era levels, and their outperformance led the Nasdaq to be the first major index to erase its pandemic-induced losses. Strategists warned of a bubble forming in the market and that leadership in the months-long rally was dangerously thin.

Yet certain gauges suggest the bull market’s drivers are more varied than just the popular tech giants. While cyclical sectors trail the S&P 500 by roughly 5% on a market-weighted basis, they’ve made a full recovery from the March trough and now outpace the benchmark on an equal-weighted basis, Paulsen said.

Read more: ‘The largest financial crisis in history’: A 47-year market vet says the COVID-19 crash was merely a ‘fake-out sell-off’ — and warns of an 80% stock plunge fraught with bank failures and bankruptcies



chart: Leuthold Group


© Leuthold Group
Leuthold Group

“Cyclicals have not done as well as the FAANGs — few stocks have — but relative to

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