Financial markets bounced hard off the previous week’s and Monday’s lows last week before sinking again Friday, giving Omega Advisors founder Leon Cooperman some hope, which begs the question: Has the market bottomed?
“I would not want to borrow money. I would want to be a cash-basis investor. I would want to stick with quality in the market.”
Cooperman, a billionaire investor, seems to think the markets were flirting with the bottom early last week after getting hammered by news concerning the coronavirus pandemic. He didn’t sound totally confident in his response, though.
“If I’m right on the virus call, if I’m right and that’s the big ‘if’ … I think the market at the recent low … was close enough to the bottom to be called the bottom,” Cooperman said during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.
The U.S. now has more than 122,000 cases of COVID-19, which is now the most in the world. China, where the virus originated, has over 81,000, according to The New York Times.
The pandemic has caused businesses across the country to shut their doors or lay off workers. Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. hit a record 3.3 million Thursday, according to the Department of Labor.
Cooperman said he would be “less optimistic” that we’ve reached the market bottom if the economic shutdown stretches beyond April and into the third quarter of 2020.
The S&P 500 hit a recent low of 2,191 points at Monday’s close, falling about 35% from its record-high close of 3,386 points on Feb. 19. The index managed to regain around 16% of those losses through midweek trading before sinking again a bit Friday.
“I found the rally off the bottom in the few couple days impressive. I think it’s gone as far as it should go,” Cooperman said. “The market is in the zone of fair valuation.”
That means it could be close to the market bottom, but Cooperman also warned investors to be defensive “until we get more of a handle on the virus.”
He also repeated a call to be patient when investing right now, and to avoid buying on margin. Margin trading involves borrowing money from a broker to complete a transaction, and it can be expensive if the trade goes sour.
“I would not want to borrow money. I would want to be a cash-basis investor. I would want to stick with quality in the market,” Cooperman said.
Has the Market Bottomed?
Banyan Hill Publishing Chartered Market Technician Michael Carr said that “from a technical perspective, this looks a lot like the 2000 top in the Nasdaq 100 index,” and that means it may be a while before the market bottom is hit.
“The initial decline back then took 35% off the index in a month. Then, there was a rally. Enthusiasm returned as the index gained 30% over three months. The bear market had begun and the initial decline didn’t change the fact that stocks were overvalued,” he explained.
Carr, editor of
“The bear market lasted more than two years and investors who bought the initial bounce lost more than 30%,” he said.
Stocks have only been in a bear market for a few weeks now, and Carr warns that history shows a trap that could be easy for investors to fall in.
“All bear markets begin with a decline and a bounce,” Carr said.
As far as where the market bottom is?
“This is a bounce and the downside target is about 1,800 on the S&P 500, about 40% below the current price,” Carr said.
Only time will tell when the market bottoms. That’s why you don’t necessarily try to time it — which is next to impossible even for professional traders. You formulate your own plan, and you stick to it.