I’ve always advised clients to approach financial news as interesting, but not reliable as an investment strategy source.
Ben Carlson, author of the A Wealth of Common Sense blog, recently did a great job outlining how to read financial news headlines. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so let this be a guide for you:*
Headline: Stocks Rose/Fell Today by 1% Because of ______________
How to read it: Millions of shares traded hands today because investors all have different goals, strategies, risk profiles, holding periods and ideas.
Headline: (Popular economist/fund manager) Expects Market Volatility to Pick Up Later This Year
How to read it: Saying you expect volatility to pick up at some point in the future is like saying you expect it to rain at some point in the future. And volatility works both ways – to the upside and the downside – so really this is just a way of saying the markets will fluctuate, which of course they will.
Headline: George Soros Gained/Lost $1 Billion
How to read it: Soros has around $25 billion so what he does with his money shouldn’t concern most investors.
Headline: Markets Got Slaughtered Today: A Sign of Worse Things to Come?
How to read it: No one ever really knows why stocks rise or fall on a single day. The market is up just over 50% of all trading days and down just under 50% of all trading days so you can never put too much stock in any one day.
Headline: Investors Are Dealing With More Uncertainty.
How to read it: The future is always uncertain. The past just feels more certain because now we know what really happened.
Headline: Are Markets Overbought Here?
How to read it: Ask us again in a few months.
Headline: The Stock Market Enters a Painful Correction
How to read it: Retirement savers rejoice as stocks fall on the week. Those with decades to save and invest should hope it continues.
Headline: ______Could Cause Gold to Rise to $1500/oz.
How to read it: Total guess. No one has a clue.
Headline: Is This the stock-Picker’s Market We’ve Been Waiting For?
How to read it: It’s both always and never a stock-picker’s market because it all depends on the quality of the stock-picker, not the market.
Headline: Goldman Sachs Expects Stocks to Rally For the Next 3 Months.
How to read it: Big financial firms have so many strategists that there will surely be a research piece put out in the coming days that totally contradicts whatever they just predicted.
Headline: When Will the Fed Raise Rates?
How to read it: Has Fed policy really ever helped you make better investment decisions? Even if you knew exactly what they were going to do in the future you still have no idea how other investors will react.
Headline: Investors Panic as Stocks Enter a Bear Market.
How to read it: Don’t panic – expected returns and dividend yields go up during bear markets. This is a good thing for long-term investors.
Headline: A Perfect Storm Caused Markets to Fall.
How to read it: Stuff happens in the markets and we like to attach important-sounding narratives to everything. 100-year storms now seem to come around once a month or so.
Headline: (Permanently-bearish pundit) Predicts a Market Crash Worse than 1987.
How to read it: Certain pundits are constantly predicting peril and end times for the markets and the economy so expect to read a few of these every week as they’ll continue guessing until they’re finally “right.”
Headline: The 10 Best Stocks to Own Right Now
How to read it: Here are 10 random stocks we think could go up for reasons we are purely speculating on.
Headline: Investors are Cautiously Optimistic.
How to read it: We’ve got nothing so we’re going to run this classic that gives no information whatsoever.
Headlines will never be the same for you again. And that’s a good thing.
This information of a general nature and should not be considered specific advice, as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact your financial advisor or Caring for Clients prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained herein.