Market Commentary – June 2020

Stocks managed to post small gains in June despite rising volatility from a potential second wave of COVID-19. In a report on June 5th, U.S. job gains for May surprised to the upside, increasing by 2.5 million while economists were expecting losses of 8 million. Additionally, U.S. retail sales jumped a record 17.7% in the same month. We were encouraged by this economic data and the initial signs suggest a rapid, V-shaped recovery in the short-run. Long-term, we remain more cautious as the lasting impact of lockdowns on the economy remains to be seen. A notable development during the month was the rising rate of COVID-19 infections beginning in mid-June. As restrictions have eased, it should come as no surprise that infection rates climbed. Despite this, the simple fact remains that the U.S. cannot afford to lock down the country again. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin echoed this sentiment on June 11th when he stated that the economy could not be shut down a second time and the economic fallout from lockdowns has proven to be worse than the disease itself. Unlike the first wave of COVID-19, which caught many by surprise, a potential second wave will need to be countered with increased mask usage and social distancing. Additionally, as COVID-19 vaccines enter late-stage clinical trials in July, we believe this will help buoy equity market sentiment. The potential for a vaccine, coupled with the massive amounts of monetary and fiscal stimulus from the U.S. government, may give investors a reason to be optimistic in the second half of the year.