No one bangs a gong to announce the start of a correction. Tuesday's carnage begs the question: has the long-awaited market downturn finally started? It would be foolhardy to try to time the day of reckoning, but it's also reckless to remain unprepared.
Below, we spotlight an easy proactive measure to guard your hard-earned wealth. This investment should also generate big gains in the turbulent months ahead. But first, we examine the increasingly dangerous investment context.
U.S. stocks on Tuesday posted their biggest decline in five months, as health care legislation supported by President Donald Trump encountered ferocious opposition in Congress from both sides of the aisle. Trump's blustery threat that GOP lawmakers who voted "no" would lose their seats in 2018 was met with derision even by conservative lawmakers.
Trump's political miscalculations on Capitol Hill, combined with his disastrously low approval ratings, are making Wall Street sit up and take notice. Traders now wonder: can the unpopular president deliver on any of his promises? Even his vows of tax cuts, deregulation and fiscal stimulus are being called into question.
The financial services sector plunged on Tuesday, as it became apparent that Democrats in the Senate would fight back against Trump's plans to deregulate banking. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, flatly stated on Tuesday that his party would oppose sweeping changes to Dodd-Frank.
Since Nov. 9, bank stocks have soared as traders expressed optimism that the new administration would repeal Dodd-Frank and other rules that Wall Street finds onerous.
Perhaps the party is over. Bank stocks on Tuesday suffered their worst day in nine months, as it dawned on bankers that perhaps Trump can't deliver. KeyCorp (KEY) fell 6.5%, the biggest loss in the S&P 500 (SPY) . Other major bank losses included Bank of America (BAC) (-5.8%), Morgan Stanley (MS) (-4.33%), Goldman Sachs (GS) (-3.77%), Wells Fargo (WFC) (-3.09%), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) (-2.9%) and Citigroup (C) (-2.60%).
Transportation companies, including airlines and railroads, also plummeted, as did small stocks. The S&P 500 plunged 1.1%, its biggest drop since Oct. 11. Stocks have now declined for four days in a row.
As a hedge against a correction, conventional wisdom dictates that your portfolio should contain 5% to 10% in precious metals. Gold is an obvious choice, but have you thought about silver?
"In our view, any resurgence in investor uncertainty or 'safe-haven' demand, possibly based on geopolitical concerns, will bolster silver in 2017 ...
We also base our expectations on solid fundamentals, as mine supply is likely to contract while industrial and jewelry demand should increase. HSBC estimates that the silver supply deficit was 116 million ounces in 2016 and should reach 132 million ounces in 2017."
Rekindled inflation only makes the case more compelling. The Consumer Price Index increased 2.74% in February 2017 over the same month a year ago. Silver not only provides ballast and an inflation hedge to your portfolio, but it's set for outsized growth amid a broader market that's dangerously overvalued.
Investors are catching on to silver's appeal. The benchmark iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) has generated a year-to-date return of 14.96%. The time to buy shares in this exchange-traded fund is now, before the overall market's risks become more apparent and silver prices get bid sky high. SLV's expense ratio is a reasonable 0.50%.
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John Persinos is an analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, he owned stock in Wells Fargo.
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer manages as a charitable trust, is long KEY, WFC and C.