PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Happy New Year — just don’t look closely at your stock portfolio in your 401K or pension fund.
“Today has been a rough day on the markets,” says Carrie Coghill of Coghill Investment Strategies.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Police Investigating Multiple Overnight Gas Station Armed Robberies
“There’s a lot going on around the world, and people are waking up from their holiday hangover and getting a financial hangover from all this information.”
The market plunged by over 400 points on the Dow Jones Industrial, an opening year drop unparalleled since 1932.
It was precipitated by events thousands of miles away.
“The stock market has fallen today for two reasons,” said Bob Fragasso of Fragasso Financial Advisors. “The primary reason centers on reduced economic activity in China, and the other is tensions in the middle east.”
Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran with worries over oil supplies added to even greater concern over China, especially when the Chinese closed its stock market after stocks plummeted much worse than in the U.S. on news that the economy in China was not growing much.
But why should the U.S. stock market care about China?
“China is the second largest economy in the world,” notes Fragasso. “So if China is buying, and producing, and consuming at a lesser level, then that ripples out to all of the other economies.”
While many American companies invest in and sell to China, some say Wall Street is reacting emotionally rather than with common sense, since the U.S. economy is doing better these days.
“Economically speaking, not looking at Wall Street, but looking economically, things are actually pretty good,” said Rick Applegate of Cantor Fitzgerald Wealth Management.
“Interest rates are still historically extremely low. Inflation is extremely low. Jobs are improving and payrolls at jobs are increasing. So there’s a lot of reasons to think our own economy is in a pretty good situation right now as we look forward into 2016.”READ MORE: Stimulus Check Update: Some May See Even More Money From Potential Economic Relief Package
But Wall Street sometimes seems more interested in bad news than good.
So is this a sign of an awful year ahead?
“It really is meaningless,” says Coghill.
“We all would have rather had a better first day and a good January, but January isn’t over yet.”
It sure isn’t — but after an awful market, the natural reaction: “People immediately think, my money, I lost a great deal of money,” says Applegate.
But Applegate says most people in a diversified 401K or pension fund will be just fine.
“The thing you should do as we start this year is to look at your portfolio to determine is it the right allocation for your age for the time frame ahead.”
While the drop on Monday was precipitated by international events, including a much worse plunge of the Chinese stock market, Dan Dingus of Fragasso Financial Advisors says individual investors cannot time these market drops to avoid them.
“We’re never going to be out of the U.S. We’re never going to be out of international markets, and I think ultimately nobody can time those markets, and I think when you start to time it is when you get yourself in a lot of trouble.”
Instead, Applegate says you should have funds that are actively managed as opposed to the index mutual funds that are constructed to go up — or down — with the stock market.
“You get active managers who make active decisions at this point in time. They’re going to look and say, maybe we shouldn’t be in the energy stocks, maybe we should have less exposure in the foreign markets. So that kind of active decision is going to be very helpful for investors in 2016,” adds Applegate.
And every analyst tells me 2016 should be better than 2015.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Home And Garden Show Postponed To October
“I see nothing in the upcoming months to suggest we have any kind of a major, major downturn,” says Fragasso.