Feb 28, 2019

Trying to read the S&P 500's tea leaves

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

After gaining 7.8% in January, the S&P 500 has added another 3.3% so far in February for a year-to-date return of 11.4%.

The state of play: Barring a more than 3% drop today, the S&P will finish the month higher again. That's a strong historical indicator that the market will end higher for the year.

What they're saying: "Since 1938, there's been 30 years where both January and February have been positive. And 29 of those years out of 30 have ended up positive, and big, on average over 20 percent," Jodie Gunzberg, head of U.S. equities at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said on CNBC last week.

  • "We've never seen 2 months in a row ever to have every single segment of the U.S. equity market up."

On the other hand: This is the best first 2 months of the year since 1987. But 1987 turned out to be a rough year for the stock market.

  • Gunzberg's choice to use 1938 as the beginning point for the rosy stat is important. The S&P 500 had positive gains in January and February of 1930, 1931 and 1937 as well. Those were lean years for investors, with stock market drops of 25%, 44% and 35% respectively, including dividends (plus the Great Depression).

Go deeper: Annual Returns on the S&P 500, 10-year Treasury notes and 3-month T-Bills for every year since 1928

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 1,273,990 — Total deaths: 69,444 — Total recoveries: 260,247Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 p.m. ET: 337,310 — Total deaths: 9,634 — Total recoveries: 17,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Intelligence community watchdog suggests Trump fired him for doing his job

Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community,at the Capitol in October. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson suggested in a statement Sunday President Trump fired him for acting impartially in carrying out his duties following a whistleblower complaint.

Why it matters: Atkinson alerted Congress last September to the complaint on Trump's correspondence with Ukraine's president, triggering an inquiry that resulted in the Trump's impeachment.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,500 in the U.S. Sunday evening, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health