Heading into 2022, many investors had a brighter outlook on the U.S. economy and financial markets. Both staged impressive rebounds in 2021 after Covid-19 quarantine measures triggered wild volatility. Vaccine breakthroughs and stimulus checks further stoked optimism that the finances of many businesses and individuals were on the mend.
However, rising inflation, higher interest rates, and geopolitical conflict have been several headwinds getting in the way of continued economic and financial market growth in 2022. Year-to-date, the benchmark S&P 500 Index is down about 7% through April 20, 2022, after rising nearly 27% in 2021.
Nonetheless, there are opportunities in some areas of the financial markets for investors looking beyond Covid-19. Here’s a look at five popular investment trends for 2022.
1. Looking Beyond Covid-19
Some of the success stories in the stock market in 2020 and 2021 were companies that benefited from coronavirus-related stay-at-home measures, like entertainment streaming businesses, video conferencing services, and at-home workout companies. But many companies in these sectors are losing their luster as the country reopens; investors are looking for other opportunities as the world returns to normal.
Investors have wagered that airline, cruise line, travel website operators, and other transportation stocks will benefit now that most Covid-19 restrictions are in the rearview mirror. While these sectors, like the rest of the economy, may be hindered by rising interest rates and inflation, many investors still see them poised to grow because of pent-up demand.
2. ESG Investing Movement
Financial advisors often tell clients to take their emotions out of investing. However, a new breed of ethically-minded investors has become increasingly interested in putting their money where their values are in recent years.
This strategy is known as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. A Bloomberg study estimated that ESG investments may hit $41 trillion globally by the end of this year and $50 trillion by 2025, a third of global assets under management.
In early 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine set off global protests and pronouncements against the unprovoked conflict. Many American companies followed by pulling their business operations out of Russia and issuing statements on their commitment to Ukrainian democracy. This development is just one example of companies looking beyond the bottom line in their business decisions. Moreover, shareholder advocacy groups are applying pressure on some companies to back their pledges with transparency on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
3. Web 3.0
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were among the most discussed investments in 2021, with wild swings in prices across the entire sectors. The prices of crypto assets cooled off in the early portion of 2022, but they are still in the front of the minds of a lot of investors for a number of reasons, including potential risks, possible regulation, notable hacks, failures, and more.
Because of the attention paid to crypto over the past several years, some investors are interested in related investments: companies involved in what is known as Web 3.0, or the next phase of the internet. Web 3.0 companies include those involved with blockchain technology, decentralized finance (DeFi), the metaverse, and artificial intelligence.
Recommended: Learn the basics of cryptocurrency with this Crypto Guide for Beginners.
4. Commodities Markets
After years of muted returns, commodity prices rebounded in 2021. Investors wagered that recovering economies would lead to more construction, energy usage, and food consumption. Tight supplies also boosted these markets.
Moving into 2022, the attention paid to the commodities market has only intensified, especially with the geopolitical turmoil in Ukraine and Russia affecting critical commodities like oil, natural gas, and wheat. Prices of these key commodities have spiked as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict constrains supplies.
Rising prices of agriculture, lumber, and industrial and precious metals have sparked a debate about whether commodities are going through a new supercycle. A supercycle is a sustained period, usually about a decade, where commodities trade above long-term price trends.
Recommended: Commodities Trading Guide for Beginners
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5. Hot Housing Market
The housing market will continue to be an area of focus for investors, policymakers, and potential homebuyers in 2022. During 2020 and 2021, rock-bottom mortgage rates, a shortage of housing supply, and homebuyers looking to purchase larger houses to accommodate working from home led to houses selling quickly and at high prices. Additionally, investors and real estate investment trusts (REITs) bought an increasing share of homes on the market.
During the first quarter of 2022, mortgage rates are rising at a record pace, with the average 30-year mortgage nearing 5% for the first time since 2018. Analysts are looking to see if rising mortgage rates will cool the hot housing market or if buyers will continue to purchase homes.
Recommended: Pros & Cons of Investing in REITs
Putting hard-earned dollars into any investment — whether it’s trendy or traditional — can be daunting. Investors should be aware that, while momentum can feed investment fads for long periods, some market trends can become vulnerable because of frothy valuations and turn on a dime.
However, if investors still want to try their hand at choosing popular investment trends themselves, SoFi’s Active Investing platform makes it easy by making it easy to track their picks of stocks, ETFs and fractional shares. Investors can also make trades online without incurring management fees from SoFi Invest®.
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