When to Expect Stocks to Revisit Their Coronavirus Crash Low

In a recent MarketWatch article, columnist Mark Hulbert argues that those who say the coronavirus bear market is behind us may be more hopeful than correct.

“While the market’s rally since its March 23 low has been explosive,” Hulbert writes, “it’s not unprecedented.” He notes that since the Dow’s creation in the late 1800s, there have been 38 “other occasions where it rallied just as much (or more) in just as short a period—and all of them occurred during the Great Depression.”

These parallels are a “powerful reminder that the market can explode upward during the context of devastating long-term decline,” Hulbert writes. Citing data from Ned Davis Research, he illustrates how history’s final bear lows came long after the first losses:

Hulbert also notes that investor sentiment “points to a lower low for the U.S. market. That’s because the usual pattern is for the final bear-market bottom to be accompanied by thoroughgoing pessimism and despair. That’s not what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks. In fact, just the opposite is evident — eagerness to declare that the worst is now behind us.”

Market volatility also offers clues, says Hulbert, citing that with few exceptions the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) “almost always hits its high well before the bear market registers its final low” and that the average lead time of the VIX’s peak to the bear market low was 90 days. “Add that to the day on which the VIX hit its peak” on March 16, Hulbert notes, “and you get a projected low on June 14.”

Hulbert concludes that we should “expect a retest of the market’s March low.”