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Looming showdown: US stock market braces for cyclical bear and bulls battle

Looming showdown: US stock market braces for cyclical bear and bulls battle

The United States stock market has been under pressure in recent weeks, with most equities experiencing losses amidst overarching economic uncertainty. 

Much of this uncertainty can be attributed to factors such as the anticipated Federal Reserve interest rate cut decision against the backdrop of stubborn inflationary pressures. 

Amidst this uncertainty, there is considerable focus on how the stock market might be affected, with several analysts offering various predictions by drawing parallels from historical trends.

Particularly, in a LinkedIn post on April 21, macro strategist Audrey Wang shed light on the cyclical patterns within the US stock market dating back to 1935, sparking interest in the potential onset of a possible bear market in the near future.

Wang’s analysis underscores the historical pattern and flow of bull and bear markets within the broader context of longer-term secular trends. She pointed out that, on average, a cyclical bear market emerges around every seven years following the onset of a secular bull market.

US stock secular bull market and cyclical bear market chart. Source: S&P Global

Resilience of economy 

She acknowledged that the US economy continues to display resilience, with robust indicators hinting at sustained growth. However, Wang’s insights suggest that this may not be sufficient to stave off the looming threat of a new cyclical bear market, with the last one occurring in 2020. 

“As the US economy remains robust, current trends suggest that it could be heading for a new cyclical bear market if economic growth cannot maintain its current pace. Understanding these long-term patterns is helpful to inform investment strategies and economic forecasting,” she said. 

In her view, should economic expansion falter, the stage could be set for a shift in market sentiment and a subsequent downturn in stock prices.

The analyst noted that a “secular bull market” is an extended period characterized by rising stock prices and optimism. On the other hand, a cyclical bear market represents a temporary downturn within the broader context of a secular trend, typically lasting for a shorter duration.

US stock market under pressure 

It’s worth noting that the stock market has seen notable declines over the past week, particularly in sectors like technology. The prevailing interest rate decisions have largely fueled uncertainty, while the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran in the Middle East has added further complexity to the situation.

Amidst this uncertainty, investors have shifted their focus to traditional safe-haven assets such as gold, which has recently surged to new record highs.

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