Fastenal Company (FAST) Stock Forecasts

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Summary

After a stressful fall — when the VIX Volatility Index climbed to 22 in October — the important “fear index” has calmed and the S&P 500 has popped more than 20%. Is the coast clear? Well, on the positive side, we anticipate that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession into 2025, the Federal Reserve will start to lower interest rates later this year, and earnings growth is poised to accelerate over the next few quarters. There are fundamental risks to be sure, such as geopolitical developments (Russia, Mideast, China), high interest rates (the Fed hasn’t cut yet), the chance of recession (the yield curve is still inverted), and the upcoming 2024 U.S. presidential election. All that said, the current VIX index reading is around 14, which is below the 15-year average of 20.5 and signals that investors aren’t overly worried about the outlook. These readings compare to the average VIX of 24 during the most-recent bear market and 35 during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. During the long bull market in the 2010s, the VIX averaged 18 and even touched lows below 10 in 2017. We continue to think that the S&P 500 is in the early stages of a new bull market that dates to October 2022. And while the path for equities won’t be straight up, we suggest investors over-weight their portfolios toward stocks at the current market and economic junctures.

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