With stocks gaining in Thursday trading, it looks like the S&P 500 will avoid logging a losing March. Still, after a string of four straight monthly gains of more than 1.5 percent, this is still set to be the worst month for stocks since October.
Some strategists say the pause is not only appropriate, but could actually be beneficial for the rally.
"This is healthy, because valuations have been so rich, and consumer sentiment has reached [the highest] levels since 2000, [that] we think coming back down a little to more reasonable valuations could be a good thing," Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer at S&P Global, said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."
The real test, she says, will come once earnings begin to emerge.
First-quarter earnings season "will start in about three weeks or so — that's when we really start worrying about what's going to happen for the rest of the year," Gibbs said.
Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak, would welcome the second-order effects of a true market slide.
"I hope the market goes down," he said Wednesday on "Trading Nation." "I'm not talking about a big correction, a big bear market, or anything like that. But boy, would it be nice if we finally saw Congress get blamed for something. They've been getting a free ride for a decade or longer."
The way Maley sees it, congressional inaction on fiscal policy has long been excused by stimulative monetary policy effected by the Federal Reserve — but with the Fed raising rates, it is high time for Congress to step up.
President Donald Trump appears to agree. In his victory speech, he put the focus on the rebuilding of infrastructure, which led to a great deal of attendant optimism in the equity market.
And in an even more direct endorsement of stimulative fiscal policies, he told The New York Times Magazine that "In order to get [the economy] going, and going big league, and having the jobs coming in and the taxes that will be cut very substantially and the regulations that'll be going, we're going to have to prime the pump to some extent. In other words: Spend money to make a lot more money in the future. And that'll happen."
Of course, whether it will actually happen is questionable. The inability to repeal Obamacare put much of Trump's agenda in question, and his stated intention to "fight" conservative Republicans "& Dems" doesn't exactly suggest a willingness to work closely with Congress.
A market drop, however, could change the political equation.
"If things finally got down a little bit, if [Congress] finally got the blame for a few things, they'd finally get off their duffs and make a few structural changes that we need, to take the place of the monetary stimulus we've been getting for so many years," Maley said.