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The FTSE 100 is now down in 2023. Should I be worried?

Entrepreneur on the phone.

The past four weeks have left the FTSE 100 index looking a little bruised. After hitting a record high a month ago, the Footsie has tumbled, especially in recent trading.

The index falters

As I write, the blue-chip index stands at 7,406.87 points, up 0.9% today. At its all-time high on 16 February, it peaked at 8,047.06 points. Thus, it’s lost over 640 points in four weeks, leaving it down 8% from the top.

This latest mini-meltdown came after the fall of two mid-sized, tech-focused US banks. As investors rushed to withdraw cash from weaker US banks, this triggered a classic ‘bank run’. This panic soon turned into contagion, with UK bank shares duly taking a beating.

Here’s how the FTSE 100 has performed over the short and medium term:

One day +0.9%
Five days -6.0%
One month -7.6%
Year to date -0.5%
Six months +3.0%
One year +1.6%
Five years +3.4%

The Footsie had a strong start to the year, peaking 8% above its 30 December close. But my table shows that the index has now recorded a small loss in 2023. (All figures exclude cash dividends.)

Last month, I did warn that the London market may have gone too far, too fast on a wave of investor exuberance. And after the party came the obligatory hangover.

Am I worried by this latest bout of market weakness? Not at all. Indeed, as a value-hunting contrarian investor, I’m keen to buy even more shares when they’re trading at a discount.

For me, these wise words from investment guru Warren Buffett hold true: “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”

Bank stocks take a beating

On the subject of undervalued shares, UK bank stocks have been battered hardest in the FTSE 100. As investors painfully recalled the bank collapses of the global financial crisis of 2007-09, they rushed to sell their shares.

Here’s how the four leading UK banks’ shares have performed since the market peaked on 16 February:

Bank Change since 16/02/23 One-year change Five-year change
Barclays -18.0% -18.3% -31.7%
HSBC -9.5% +13.2% -20.9%
Lloyds -10.0% -2.1% -29.5%
NatWest -13.8% +10.4% -6.2%

My table shows price declines among the Big Four banks’ shares ranging from around a tenth to nearly a fifth. While two bank shares have risen over the past 12 months, all four stocks are down over five years. In short, it’s been a rough half-decade to be a shareholder in UK banks.

I see deep value in the Footsie today

As I said, I’m not anxious about the Footsie’s latest plunge. In fact, as prices fall, I get excited by the opportunity to buy cheaper shares for the long term.

Today, I regard the FTSE 100 as the cheapest major market index, both in historical and geographical terms. If I could buy the entire index for its current value (around £2.03trn), I’d gladly gobble it up.

Lastly, I’d usually be snapping up cheap shares left, right and centre today. However, I’m already fully invested in equities. Also, I’m eagerly awaiting the 2023-24 tax year on 6 April before putting more cash into the market!

The post The FTSE 100 is now down in 2023. Should I be worried? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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