S&P 500 Breaks New Record; Small Business Picture Is Different

(Friday, August 21, 2020; 8:00 p.m. EST) It's a tale of two economies: coronavirus hurts small businesses while the tech giants are immune.

The Standard & Poor's 500 closed at a new record high, but the recovery picture in the overall U.S. economy is not as bright.

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The 60 leading economists surveyed in mid-August by "The Wall Street Journal" expect a gradual decline in the unemployment rate to 4.9% by the end of 2023.

However, pre-covid, unemployment dropped to as low as 3.5%, and economists don't expect to re-approach that level, "full employment," for at least several years. To be clear, a complete recovery from the pandemic will take years.

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Driven largely by the earnings expected of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index closed Friday at 3,397.16, a new all time high.

While the S&P 500 is full valued relative to its historical norm, it's not trading at anything near an outlandish multiple of expected profits. Valuations on stocks are nothing like the tech-stock bubble in 2000.

Even as the S&P 500 booms, however, the broader economy remains less strong than before the pandemic.

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"Despite the recent gains in the (U.S. Leading Economic Indicators) LEI, which remain fairly broad-based, the initial post-pandemic recovery appears to be losing steam," according to economists at The Conference Board,  "The LEI suggests that the pace of economic growth will weaken substantially during the final months of 2020."

The Standard & Poor's 500 is one of 10 components of the U.S. Leading Economic Indicators.  The LEI is a better way of seeing the expected road to recovery and more accurately reflects what's happening in the real economy.


The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is a market-value weighted index with each stock's weight proportionate to its market value. Index returns do not include fees or expenses. Investing involves risk, including the loss of principal, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor's shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted.

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This article was written by a veteran financial journalist based on data compiled and analyzed by independent economist, Fritz Meyer. While these are sources we believe to be reliable, the information is not intended to be used as financial advice without consulting a professional about your personal situation.

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