The S&P gained 29 per cent in 2021 and volatility was unusually low. Photograph: iStock

Analyst says last year bore most resemblance to 1995, another year of extraordinary gains

Pedestrians walk past Trump Tower in New York city. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Warning that midterm elections represent ‘historic tipping point’ all too plausible

The Nasdaq index took a battering in the first week of January. Photograph: iStock

Growing chorus of experts argue that value stocks will lead markets in coming years

The S&P 500 surged 31 per cent in 2019, 18 per cent in 2020 and 29 per cent in 2021.  Photograph: Michael Nagle/ Bloomberg

Markets will continue to obsess over Fed policy in coming months

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The US won’t endure a lost decade, but lower returns, are likely, Vanguard predicted. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

US markets ‘have not been this overvalued since the dotcom bubble’

Average gains are actually very rare. Photograph: iStock

There have been as many yearly returns above 40% as returns in the 8%-12% range

There’s no hint of euphoria in Bank of America’s latest fund manager survey. Photograph: iStock

Amid fears the Fed may be about to get hawkish, there has been a dash to cash

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

History suggests odds stocks will rise in 202 are no different from any other year

Michael Steinhardt has surrendered 180 looted and illegally smuggled antiquities. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Michael Steinhardt surrendered 180 stolen antiquities worth estimated $70m

Apple is bigger than the German and UK stock markets, and bigger than the British, French and Italian economies. Photograph: iStock

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook account for quarter of index

None of Wall Street’s major investment houses is  bullish about stocks. Photograph: iStock

After spectacular growth in 2021, many experts are braced for a significant fall

Passive index funds have grown enormously in recent years, but the active fund industry remains “huge”. Photograph: iStock

Only 13% of active US funds outperform, resulting in huge losses to investors

The US figures are similarly grim. File photograph: Getty

Buying in the hope of choosing an outperformer really is a low-probability bet

The bull of Wall Street. Photograph: iStock

Stocks have hit new all-time highs in every month so far this year

An Indian health worker collects a swab sample of a passenger who arrived from Bangalore by train, following the detection of the Omicron variant in Chennai. Photograph: Idrees Mohammed/EPA

Investors will be offside if Omicron does prove to be a game-changer

Index fund guru John Bogle advised: don’t look for the needle in the haystack, just buy the haystack

Searching for the next generation of market leaders is a fool’s game

In September the total market capitalisation of companies trading on at least 20 times sales was $4.9 trillion, way above the previous peak in 2000. Photograph: Reuters

S&P 500 stocks skyrocketing to valuations not seen since dotcom bubble

The S&P 500 trades for 21.4 times estimated earnings, while the Russell 2000 small-cap index looks even pricier, trading on 27.4 times estimated earnings. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

With US stocks trading higher than international markets, can it last?

Bargain hunters have to deal with the fact that a clueless autocrat is running the central bank. Photograph: AFP via Getty

Turkish lira lost as much as 15% against the dollar last Tuesday

Various valuation metrics, such as   Robert J Shiller’s Cape, suggest long-term returns will be subdued, at best, in the coming years. Photograph: iStock

After a successful period, the next decade may see US investors with subdued returns

Allocations to US equities are above historical norms. Photograph: iStock

Equity allocations are at their highest level since June

When Tesla’s market valuation first topped $100 billion in January 2020, the company reported quarterly revenue of $7.4 billion. Photograph: iStock

It took Tesla 10 years to hit $100 billion but Rivian managed it in three days

New working paper from Queens University researchers suggests  many experienced investors ride bubbles only to be  left with painful losses. Photograph: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

New research suggests it’s not the young and inexperienced who perform worst

When people actively pick certain stocks they think they must have a higher return. Photograph: iStock

When we own something, it distorts our perceptions – and that puts us at risk

Last year’s profits collapse has been fully erased, with earnings now back to their long-term trend. Photograph: Getty Images

The earnings rebound has been the ‘easy part’, and things may get trickier from here

Tesla has a chance of delivering higher profit margins than any other car-maker in history. Photograph: Getty Images

If you’re buying Tesla for the long term finding a story to justify today’s values will require a ‘real stretch’

The S&P 500 is up more than 25%  this year, and the rally shows no signs of slowing. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The bull market is clearly alive and well

LPL Research’s Ryan Detrick found eight previous instances where the S&P 500 was up more than 20 per cent coming into November. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Recent momentum augurs well for stocks as ‘strength is a bull’s best friend’

The New York Stock Exchange. US stocks have enjoyed a five-fold return since the publication of Dow 36,000. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

An infamous book published during the dotcom bubble got it wrong – and right

A 2021 report showed 337 large companies globally reduced emissions by a quarter between 2015 and 2019. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

Deutsche Bank report says concerns are rational as companies are ‘massive polluters’

Discretionary index additions subsequently fare worse in terms of profitability relative to other large companies that are excluded for discretionary reasons. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Membership is governed by strict rules but index providers also have some discretion

The New York Times once headlined that Tesla ‘has something hotter than cars to sell: its story’. File photograph: Getty

Do stories matter? Research indicates that they do – and can inflate the price of product

Last week’s reading is higher than 97 per cent of readings over the last three decades. Photograph: iStock

Stocks have had quite the run but cool-off period is expected, says Bespoke Investment

Not everything is currently bubbly: since the end of 2018, only three of 11 global sectors (technology, communication services and consumer discretionary) have outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Bubbles result in investment opportunities in capital-starved areas of market

Although Tesla is the sixth most valuable company in the S&P 500 it only ranks 89th in terms of revenues. Photograph: Getty Images

The electric car-maker is now worth more than the combined valuation of its top five competitors

Since 1950 almost all US market gains have occurred over the November-April period. Photograph:  Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The next six months have historically proven lucrative, research shows

Global profit expectations are ‘down huge’ since last month, says Bank of America’s latest monthly fund manager survey. Photograph: AFP via Getty

Global growth expectations have plummeted to lowest level since March 2020

Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell sold a  Vanguard fund containing more than 4,000 US stocks last year. Photograph: Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Federal Reserve chief has made plenty of headlines over the sale of a Vanguard fund

Why should it take the guts of two decades for such an auto-enrolment system to be implemented? Photograph: iStock

Government’s planned ‘gradual’ introduction of system is not good enough

A 2016 State Street survey of institutional investors found 89 per cent would look to replace their manager if they underperformed for over two years.   Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Finest fund managers can be expected to be below par 40-60% of time

Weak consumer sentiment could curb discretionary spending, hurting earnings in the process. Photograph: iStock

Stocks fell last month but investors remain in buy-the-dip mode

Inventory shortages hurt Nike shares last month, while Apple is reportedly poised to cut iPhone 13 production targets due to chip shortages. Photograph: Michael Nagle

First US earnings season in recovery overshadowed by clear risk

The charging bull statue near the New York Stock Exchange. The S&P 500 has outperformed iShares’ emerging markets ETF by 19.5 percentage points this year. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

There has never been a period of such sustained outperformance

Almost a third of investors who panic sell never return to reinvest in risky assets. Photograph: iStock

‘Freak out’ is when investor sells almost all equity assets over a month, study says

The Vix, Wall Street’s so-called fear index, recently peaked at 25.7 before falling back to its historical average, in the low 20s. Photograph: iStock

Investors fearful, but not reaching extreme levels seen near market bottoms, indexes suggest

September marked the first monthly decline in seven months. Photograph: iStock

Total of 412 of S&P 500’s constituents up this year despite September’s sell-off

Although retail investors are pessimistic, more than 80 per cent of professional investors said Chinese stock prices would rise over the coming year. Photograph: iStock

Chinese stock market has lost a third of its value since peaking earlier this year

Junior analysts at Goldman Sachs have  complained about long working hours  and sleeping five hours a night. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Stocktake: Forecasts made after holidays are more accurate than those issued beforehand

Wall Street, New York. The S&P 500 remains well above its 200-day moving average. Photograph: iStock

Stocktake: September was difficult for stocks but investors cannot complain

The Federal Reserve building, Washington. The Fed is likely to begin tapering its $120 billion monthly bond-buying programme later this year. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Stocktake: If rates go up, says Barclays, stocks become less attractive relative to bonds

Previously profitable tech stocks suffered badly last week as bond yields spiked. Photograph: iStock

Stocktake: The discount is now wider than that seen at the height of the dotcom bubble

Amazon. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

‘I put $10,000 into Amazon in 1997. I sold it in 1997,’ goes one memorable example

If pork prices rise in a swine pandemic, consumers tend to switch to beef. Photograph: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

‘Not all animals are created equal’ – the losers and beneficiaries aren’t always obvious

Did Donald Trump ‘break’ the Cape when he slashed corporate tax rates in 2017? Photograph: Damon Winter/The New York Times

Revised metric suggests past two decades have been a ‘typical investment period’

The Fangs were popular in recent years for their defensive properties. Photographs:  Leon Neal, Loic Venance/AFP via Getty

Slowdown in business sentiment ‘represents downside risk’ for broader indices

Michael Murray is the incoming boss of Sports Direct owner Frasers Group. Photograph: Joas Souza

Shareholder reservations over Michael Murray’s bonus are unlikely to carry weight

Stocks are also more expensive than usual. Photograph: iStock

Bank of America predicts equities will end some 12% below current levels

Any September slippage is likely to be temporary. Photograph: iStock

Is it time for some seasonal slippage with S&P up seven months in a row?

Leverage can accelerate gains in strong bull markets

Topdown Charts’ Callum Thomas points to trading in bullish leveraged ETFs

One of the great bubbles in market history, the Nasdaq topped 5,100 before losing almost 80% of its value. Photograph: iStock

Anyone who bought at 2000’s peak has earned annualised nominal returns of 5.1%

A public screen displays the Nasdaq and S&P 500 figures in Shanghai, China. Photograph: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Market volatility non-existent amid recurring new highs

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

US has earned gains while emerging markets may be extended, one analysis suggests

In corrupt countries, companies that don’t pay bribes ‘do worst of all’. Photograph: iStock

It is best for firms in a corrupt country to pay bribes to a limited extent – study

When it comes to investing, overconfidence and ignorance are a potent mix

Less knowledgeable investors were also more likely to buy stocks on margin

Geopolitics matters, but it’s best not to let global developments unduly cloud your investment outlook. Photograph: iStock

Market reactions to geopolitical unrest can be counter-intuitive

Even after recent losses, China  accounts for 10% of global stock market capitalisation, second only to the US. Photograph: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty

Marshall Wace recently warned US-listed Chinese firms may be ‘uninvestable’

US stocks have hit all-time highs every month this year but sentiment is not excessive. Photograph: Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty

Since July 2020, corporate profit margins are expected to fall

Investors are betting new highs are never far away.

Recovery time from big one-day drops in 2021 is shortest on record

Long-term returns may disappoint but another market crash is not inevitable. File photograph: Getty

Key index looks less pricey when you exclude the top 10 stocks

Overall, there is a near-universal belief that asset markets are underpricing climate risk. Photograph: KT Miller/Polar Bears International/AFP via Getty Images

Investors are underestimating the climate threat, according to a recent survey

For four of the six clients, there was at least one adviser who recommended a very low level of risk, yet another proposed a very high risk level. Photograph: iStock

Economics author Daniel Kahneman has found advisers vary wildly in their counsel

Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev attend Robinhood Markets IPO Listing Day. Photograph: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Robinhood

Stocktake: Worst-ever market debut for IPO of its size made suprising comeback

Bulls argue such enthusiasm is justified by soaring earnings. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

Stocktake: The danger is that sentiment gets too bullish

Much of Pfizer’s gains in recent weeks are on foot of continued demand for its Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Angus Mordant/ Bloomberg

Compound interest makes good on 22-year wait for Pfizer investors

On Tuesday, Apple, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet announced combined quarterly profits of $57 billion. Photograph: iStock

Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook combined value at nearly $10 trillion

China accounts for 38 per cent of the MSCI Emerging Markets index, which last week hit seven-month lows. Photograph: iStock

China flexing its regulatory muscles for some time, particularly in the tech sector

Standard disclaimers don’t provide an alternative cue to guide decisions. Photograph: iStock

In Ireland, it’s common for disclaimers to state past performance ‘not a reliable guide’

Robinhood receives an average of 2.5 cents for every $100 traded; the more clients trade, the more money it makes. Photograph:   Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

There’s nothing noble about the free trading app’s business model

The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst day since October on Monday last week only to recover almost all of its losses the following day. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

‘Always expecting the market to collapse is a loss-making strategy’

Monday’s plunge was an obvious reminder that Covid risk has not gone away. Photograph: iStock

Delta variant fears cause heavy stock and commodity prices to fall

Of S&P 500 companies, 90% have exceeded revenue estimates. Photograph: Getty

To date in the financial year, 85% of S&P 500 companies have topped earnings targets

Trading below $250 in mid-July, Moderna stock briefly exceeded $340 last Tuesday, giving it a market capitalisation of $135 billion ahead of Wednesday’s index debut. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Presumption of higher prices as index-tracking funds buy stocks may be wrong

Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson says we have ‘never witnessed breadth this weak with major indices at all-time highs’. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Breadth was also weak in 2018, resulting in a 20 per cent correction later that year

Apple’s market capitalisation topped $2.5 trillion for the first time last week, helping the Nasdaq hit new all-time highs. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Sector’s price-sales ratio has been driven to levels not seen since the 2000 dotcom bubble

Insiders are much more likely to sell shares when retail interest is high. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

A strong link has been found between retail investor interest and ‘opportunistic’ insider trading

Good earnings don’t necessarily mean good market returns. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Yes, the news looks good, but there are two caveats worth keeping in mind

The $67 billion software giant Twilio has decided to join the Long-Term Stock Exchange next month. Photograph: Getty Images

Too early to say if stock exchange will take off but potential for growth is there

According to JPMorgan, US stocks have now outperformed for 13.6 years. Photograph: iStock

Unprecedented run for US stocks likely to followed by shorter periods of dominance

Reflation trade may be dormant, not dead. Photograph: iStock

Patience may be virtue after growth stocks outperform value by most in 20 years in June

The charge that equities in the United States are in a bubble is not new. File photograph: iStock/Getty

Risk lies in ‘momentum strategies focused on market’s bubble leadership’

Some investors are worried about the impact of the Delta variant on bond yields, value and cyclical stocks. Photograph: iStock

Covid concerns have retreated but slower reopenings mean investors may be watchful

The lowest gap was reported in Germany, but even there investor expectations were still more than double what advisers consider to be realistic. File photograph: iStock/Getty

Study across 24 countries shows huge gap between client and adviser expectations

 Market weakness today is masked by the recent outperformance of large-cap giants such as Apple and Facebook. File photograph: Timo Lenzen/The New York Times

Investors will hope the rally broadens out again, as a narrow market is not healthy

The Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC. US stocks were back at all-time highs last week. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The ECB and Bank of Japan, unlike the Fed, are not under pressure to communicate tighter policy

Earlier this year, Dan Egan, a behavioural finance expert at online investment company Betterment, cautioned that “free is easy” – too easy. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Gotrade promises investment ‘without borders, barriers or minimums’

An Amazon truck in Alabama. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP via Getty

It’s very difficult to find the handful of super-stocks that drive overall returns

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