The past few years have seen one of the greatest stock market rallies of all time. The FTSE 100, along with other markets, has hit an all-time highand, on the whole, investors are upbeat about the markets outlook.
However, its this kind of buoyant atmosphere thats causing some market commentators to warn that a crash could be just around the corner. And it is easy to see why.
Unfortunately, there are two key speed bumps coming up in the next six months that could derail the markets rally.
The most pressing issue is the Greek crisis.
If you keep an eye on the markets, Im sure youll be fed up of hearing about this
The majority of lawmakers, central bankers and economists want to see an end to this crisis as soon as possible. Although, how the crisis finally ends could be a deciding factor in Europes future.
A Greek default could start a wave of panic selling across European markets. Its likely that negative investor sentiment will also spill over into international markets.
But Greece isnt the only catalyst that could spark a sell-off.
The US Federal Reserve is widelyexpected to raise interest rates later this year. While this is not usually a bad thing,there are concerns that a rate rise could spark a sell-off in corporate debt.
As corporate debt investors all rush for the exit at once, the market will become extremely volatile. Equity markets are unlikely to escape the pain.
Either of the two catalysts above could spark a global sell-off. If the sell-off reaches China, there could be huge implications.
You see, the Chinese equity market has been in bubble territory for some time. The rally has been driven by increased levels of borrowing. Chinese margin debt has reached the highest level ever recordedfor any stock market.
Additionally, Chinese corporations are struggling with high levels of debt, and the countrys property market is showing signs of strain.
As a result, Chinas financial market is extremely fragile. Even the slightest shock could hit the country hard.
For the FTSE 100, a Chinese crisis would be terrible news. As a global stock index (more than 70% of the FTSE 100s profits come from outside the UK) the FTSE 100 is extremely sensitive to global shocks.
Moreover, around a fifth of the FTSE 100s constituents are resource companies. A crisis in Asia would curb demand for key resources, hitting the profits of miners like BHP and Rio Tinto.
As an Asia-focused bank, HSBC, one of the FTSE 100s largest constituents, would also take a hit. Together, miners and HSBC make up a sizable chunk of the FTSE 100, and if they start to fall, the index will be dragged down with them.
Hard to predict
In reality, it’s difficult to try and predict what the future holds for the FTSE 100.
Even some of the world’s most prominent investors fail to correctly identify market trends. More often than not, trying to time market movements can end up costing you a lot of money.
That’s why the most successful investors look to the long-term. They build a portfolio of stocks that have reliable long-term outlooks,illustrious histories, and dependable dividends.
The Motley Fool’s top analysts have identified five key stocks that meet all of these criteria. And the best part is, these stocks are on offer right now.
So, if you’re intrigued and want to discover the fiveshares we’re recommending, all you need to do isclick hereto download our new free report.
Thereport is entirely freeand is only available for a limited time.
There’s no timeto wait around!