Recession Watch Update

As the economic expansion caps its first decade, we thought it’d be a good time to check on LPL Research’s leading indicators in our Recession Watch Dashboard.

As you can see in our latest update and in the LPL Chart of the Day, the overall view hasn’t changed much. We believe we are in the later stages of this economic expansion, but we still see little threat of imminent recession. The current expansion is the longest on record, at 126 months, but the economy has grown at a slow and steady rate. We believe this measured pace, along with supportive fiscal policy, has contributed to this cycle’s continued durability.

In the fourth quarter, the needle moved in different directions for two of our five forecasters:

We removed the U.S. Treasury Yield Curve from On Watch status as the spread between the 3-month and 10-year yields moved back into positive territory. The spread between the 2-year and 10-year yields also climbed to an 18-month high following the Federal Reserve rate cuts. Going back to 1955, a yield curve inversion (long-term yields falling below short-term yields) has preceded each of the nine recessions. It’s important to note, however, that parts of the curve flickered between positive and inverted territory several times before the actual recession occurred.

We added Market Valuations to On Watch status, as the S&P 500 Index trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio rose near cycle highs. The P/E ratio is now comfortably above our 2020 target of 18.75. With the S&P 500 surpassing the upper end of our year-end fair value target of 3,300, we are watching closely to see if earnings growth is strong enough to justify these elevated valuations. The low interest-rate and inflation environment continue to be strong tailwinds for market valuations.

“We remain optimistic of continued, albeit possibly slower, economic growth in the United States in the coming year, bolstered by recent progress on the U.S.-China trade deal,” said LPL Financial Chief Investment Strategist John Lynch. “While we continue to monitor the indicators closely, at the present time, we see only a modest chance of recession starting within the next year.”

For more of our investment insights, check out our Outlook 2020: Bringing Markets Into Focus.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing. The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted.

Please read the full Outlook 2020: Bringing Markets Into Focus publication for additional description and disclosure.

All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges, Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

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