The first three months of 2014 are nearly in the books, and so far it’s been a tale of volatility, news-driven trade and geopolitical worries.
While most of the usual, over-exuberant bullish pundits on Wall Street kept saying the market would pick up right where it left off in 2013, the first month of the year turned out to be anything but a continuation of the party. January saw stocks experience one of their worst one-month performances in years, and that selling got even more intense in early February.
Yet as is usually the case with markets, the selling gave way to bargain hunters, and midway through February we saw stocks come roaring back. The result of that comeback sent equities in the benchmark S&P 500 to new all-time highs by early March, but things have plateaued since then, with the index on pace to finish fractionally different or even flat.
So … what happens next? Will stocks take their cue from January and fall back on their heels, or will another February-like push keep the markets soaring to new highs?
The following is a look at the potential catalysts and the drivers going forward that will help determine this market’s direction over the next several months. Investors looking to get a bead on the markets should keep a watchful eye on all of these topics: