1968 proved that stocks can go higher despite a deadly global pandemic and mass protests, says Fundstrat’s Tom Lee (SPY)

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  • Stocks don’t always trade on headlines, and history has shown that the market can go higher in the face of a deadly global pandemic and mass protests for racial equality.
  • In 1968, an estimated 100,000 Americans died from the H3N2 flu, mass protests for racial equality erupted following the assasination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the S&P 500 boasted a total return of nearly 11% for the year.
  • “1968 was the year that ‘shattered America’ and many tumultous events and violence took place in that year. And despite that, the equity markets managed to perform solidly,” Fundstrat’s Tom Lee wrote on Monday.
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A deadly global pandemic that killed 100,000 Americans, mass protests for racial equality, and a rising stock market. Sound like 2020? Nope, it’s actually 1968.

In 1968, an estimated 100,000 Americans died from the H3N2 flu, which was a global influenza pandemic that killed 1 million people globally.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe and so far has killed 100,000 Americans, and 371,000 people globally.

In 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., mass protests broke out across the country, with riots occurring in cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Baltimore.

In 2020, following the death of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, mass protests broke out across the country, with riots occuring in cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, among others.

In 1968, the S&P 500 fell 9% from January to March, rallied 24% off of the bottom, and finished the year with a total return of 10.8%.

In 2020, the S&P 500 fell 32% from January to March, and rallied 40% off of the bottom.

Read more:GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 25 beaten-down stocks all poised to jump more than 18% from current levels

The uncanny similarities between 1968 and 2020 serve as a good reminder to investors that the stock market doesn’t always trade on news headlines.

“1968 was the year that ‘shattered America’ and many tumultous events and violence took place in that year. And despite that, the equity markets managed to perform solidly,” Fundstrat’s Tom Lee wrote to clients on Monday.

Investors who are scratching their heads wondering why the stock market keeps going up despite the steady drip of horrific news over the past few weeks need only look to 1968.

Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is down 5%. 

Read More: MORGAN STANLEY: The market’s hottest stocks are in danger of being disrupted to a degree not seen since the Great Recession. Here’s how to adjust your portfolio for the coming shift.

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