Market Commentary – October 2020

In October, equities saw increased volatility due to the looming U.S. presidential election and a sudden rise in COVID-19 infections. With only one day left until the U.S. presidential election, many market participants will be glad to have this event in the rear-view mirror. The media has spent the last few years building up the election into a grand spectacle, but at the end of the day the result likely not be cinematic. At this stage, it appears markets have priced in the likelihood of a Biden win, which should be neutral for stocks in the near-term. If we see a Trump upset like in 2016, we expect equities to rally into year-end and volatility levels to decline significantly. In addition to the election uncertainty, COVID-19 continues to be on the minds of many Americans and for good reason. Beginning in early October, infection rates of COVID-19 began to rise in the U.S. As a result, markets became increasingly volatile in the face of what appears to be a third wave of the virus. While we find this rise in infections to be alarming, the fact that so many pharmaceutical companies have made substantial progress towards a vaccine helps to alleviate our concerns. We believe lockdowns are far more damaging to the economy than COVID-19 and as a result we do not feel they are a viable solution. Lockdowns do work initially, but when countries emerge from them the virus transmission rates go right back up. Economies cannot absorb repeated blows from shutdowns, and we have become increasingly concerned by their use as a blanket approach to containing the virus. As we continue to get more clarity on a vaccine for COVID-19, we believe market volatility will ease. Additionally, moving past election day will remove a big overhang for stocks.