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The nine-year increase in stock prices will not last forever. So it's a good time for investors to endure their 401 (k) s before the next financial storm.
USA TODAY

Stocks marched back in March, leaving one behind nervous Wall Street It is debated whether the market madness that led to the first quarterly loss since 2015 is only a short-term blip or a sign of further losses.

The broad Standard & Poor's 500 stock index fell 1.2% in the first quarter of 2018, snapping a nine-quarters stretch of gains.

After racing at 14 record highs by Jan. 26, U.S. . Shares were undermined by fears of a trade war and uncertainty over rising interest rates and the crisis in user data that hit Facebook and other social media companies. However, there was a glimmer of hope: stocks rose sharply on the last trading day of the month.

Should 401 (k) investors be worried?

The Negatives

Let's start with the bad news. [19659008] Equities could continue to struggle if the trade dispute between President Trump and China leads from a tough tariff dispute to a full-blown economic war that could jeopardize the recovery of the global economy.

Tech stocks could also continue their bumpy ride if Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg can not curb the impact of his data scandal and tighten the regulatory control of social media companies and adopt new rules that affect their profitability. A continued decline in tech stocks, an industry group that fell 4% in March, would weigh on the broader market, as technology today accounts for approximately 25% of the S & P 500.

The "discussion" on privacy issues on social media platforms "has just begun, with no clear idea of ​​what could be implemented or how it will affect business models," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S & P Dow Jones Indices.

The positives

There is good news too

The stock market is in the earnings reporting season, and corporate America is expected to show strong numbers. Wall Street analysts have aggressively increased their earnings estimates due to the expected benefits from the large tax cuts that the new law has received.

The profits of the S & P 500 companies in the first three months of 2018 are expected to increase by 18.5%. This corresponds to an earlier estimate of 12.2% as of January 1, according to earnings tracker Thomson Reuters.

"Whether the bounce will become a sustainable rally on Friday depends largely on the results of the first quarter," says Jeff Hirsch, editor of Stock Trader's Almanac . Traders will also look for CEOs who provide optimistic forecasts for the remainder of the year, he adds

More: How vulnerable 401 (k) s are for the sell-off of tech stocks Facebook, Amazon shares?

More: 7 signals from trade talks that could move your 401 (k)

More: 401 (k ): Which stocks, sectors are vulnerable in a trade war?

Another positive result in favor of investors is that April historically was a good time to own stocks. According to the Bespoke Investment Group, it was the most powerful month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the last 50 years with an average gain of 2.04%.

Even happier is the return in April after a decline in the first quarter is even greater. The average return on the S & P 500 in April was 2.31% in the 10 years since 1983, when the large company stock index fell in the first three months of the year.

Consumer confidence remains strong, with an unemployment rate of 4.1% and an increase in wages after years of stagnation. Consequently, consumers should continue to spend.

For now, it's a wait-and-see approach on Wall Street.

"While there is much negativity in the news and market action this year, we want to encourage patience with what promises to be a turbulent ride in the months ahead," wrote the Deer Almanac in his April issue.

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