What the S&P 500 at 5,000 means for your money

The S&P 500 index closed above 5,000 for the first time on Friday, with investors showing continued optimism about cooling inflation, strong earnings and a resilient economy.

Aside from being a big, round number, 5,000 isn’t a particularly important threshold for the broad U.S. stock market barometer in and of itself. But pushing the market to new all-time highs is a sign that investors have confidence in the direction of the economy. Stocks in the index have climbed 5.9% since the start of the year and 23% over the past 12 months.

“At the end of the day, we’re still seeing whopping good news on an economic front, and the market is reacting to that,” Dana D’Auria, co-chief investment officer at Envestnet, told CNBC. “The longer that story plays out, the more likely it seems to the market that we actually are sticking a landing here.”

The good news of all-time highs in the stock market will hit every investor differently. Some may be drawn to dump as much as they can in the market for fear of missing out on gains. For others, an “all-time high” may sound like the top of a cliff, an excuse to wait until prices fall before investing.

Financial pros say you’d be wise to avoid making any wholesale changes to your strategy based on short-term moves in the stock market. And if you’re investing on a regular basis, don’t be spooked that the market is doing better than ever.

“Investors in general, but especially younger investors, should ignore the headlines about all-time highs in the S&P 500,” says Kevin Brady, a certified financial planner at Wealthspire Advisors in New York City. “Why? Because they are not uncommon, meaning all-time highs more often than not lead to further all-time highs in short order.”

Why now is a good time to invest

There’s something counterintuitive about getting into the market at an all-time peak. After all, the mantra in investing is “buy low, sell high.”

Market watchers would be quick to point a few things out on this front. For one, just because the market is at a high doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to go higher. In fact, the S&P 500 has been in bull mode some 85% of the time since 1950, and returns tend to be better than average for investors who got in at times similar to these.

Friday’s trading marked the seventh time in history that the S&P 500 took more than two years to make a new all-time high, according to Goldman Sachs. In the 12 months following each of those incidents, the index has returned 13% on average, compared with a 7.8% average return without conditions.  

You don’t have to think too hard for it to make sense. The stock market has historically trended up. That means that, during bull markets, all-time highs eventually beget new all-time highs.

If we’re in the beginning of a new bull run, “this would not be the time to hit the snooze button,” says Jon Ulin, a CFP and CEO of Ulin & Co. Wealth Management in Boca Raton, Florida.

Why you’d be wise to stick to your plan

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