3 reasons the stock market rally has stalled (and what I’d do now)

first_img The FTSE 100 index has made substantial gains over the past six months. In March, on average, the index is 13% higher than last September. Much of this is because of the stock market rally that started in November as the global outlook improved. However, in the past two months – February and March – the FTSE 100 index has run out of steam. In February, it was actually down by 1.7% from January, on average. In March so far, it is up less than 2% from the month before. 5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…In other words, we are no longer in a stock market rally. If February was an indication of that, I think March’s subdued numbers confirm it further. Why has the stock market rally stalled?I think there are a bunch of reasons this has happened. The most obvious of these is that the pandemic is still around. While vaccination is underway at speed, vaccines’ side effects are making news. At the same time, the potential threat of coronavirus variants also exists. Because of this, we are still in lockdown, which will take a few months to end even as the phased easing has started. This means that we are looking at the second-half of 2021 before a real economic bounceback can happen and possibly another stock market rally. But in anticipation of better times, the the FTSE 100 index and the broader stock markets started its run-up months ago. As a result, when deciding which stocks to buy, to me the valuations increasingly look high. And this is true even for stocks that are still struggling from the pandemic’s effects. At the same time, the threat of inflation is beginning to rear its head. Commodity prices were on the rise even last year, with the exception of oil prices, which joined in the run-up in late 2020 as well. Geo-political stress is making a comeback too, as the western world imposes sanctions on China. This only adds to the existing challenges, including the US-China trade war and the UK and China unable to see eye-to-eye on Hong Kong.How should I invest now?I think some of the weight will lift off the FTSE 100 index in April and May as more of the economy unlocks, and hopefully resolutions can be found to existing stressors. In the meantime, I will avoid stocks that are already looking pricey despite still limited business activity. On the other hand, safer stocks that are somewhat out of favour right now look attactive. Their relative valuations based on the earnings ratio are softer than those for many other FTSE 100 stocks right now.Two examples are the distributor Bunzl, which among other things, provides face masks and gloves, and accounting software provider, Sage. I think given the nature of their business and their financial resilience overtime, they make good long-term investments. FTSE 100 miners like Rio Tinto also have relatively lower earnings ratios, and they can continue to benefit from the commodities’ price rally, stock market rally or not.  See all posts by Manika Premsingh Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. Enter Your Email Address Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. “This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon in 1997” Manika Premsingh has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Bunzl and Sage Group. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite the statement from Motley Fool Co-Founder Tom Gardner.But since our US analyst team first recommended shares in this unique tech stock back in 2016, the value has soared.What’s more, we firmly believe there’s still plenty of upside in its future. 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