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Stocks ended their worst week in two years Friday, with the Dow dropping 665 points or 2.5 percent, its largest decline since June 2016. (Feb. 2)
AP

It was the exclamation mark to a lousy week in the stock market a��A�aA�666-point drop Friday that could scareA�many investors and prompt them to reassessA�their portfolios.

But let’s get real.

A blizzard of stories and commentaries warned that a correction, or 10% drop,A�was not only overdue, but normal and just a matter of time. Even as the Dow Jones industrial average broke through the 25,000 barrier and galloped past 26,000, the market refused to break stride.

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Even though Friday’sA�point drop was scary, the percentage decline wasn’t. At 2.5%, it wasn’t even close toA�theA�record, a 22.6% routA�on Black Monday inA�1987.A�

The question for investorsA�now is what to doA�next. Here’s some advice.

1. Don’t panic and stay the course

If you flee stocks now, you’re going to miss out on potential gains ahead.A�

Economists remain bullish on growth.

“We expect fiscal policy, financial conditions and firming global outlook to support strong economic growth of 2.7% in 2018,” Nomura economist Lewis Alexander said in a note.

Experts have been predicting a correction. From the Dow’s peak of more than 26,000 in late January, it wouldA�take a 2,600-point drop to hit that 10% level, andA�Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Wealth Management, has been predicting that’s what will happen this year.

2. Consider buying the dip

Should you take advantage of the dip to buy more stocks?

The bull market is showing its age but few think the good times are at an end.

The nation’s unemployment rate, at 4.1%, is at the lowest level since December 2000.A�The tax-cut package delivered some of the biggest gains to corporations, and the benefitA�to profits isA�likely to support stock prices through the rest of the year.A�

More: Wall Street 2018: Calm markets often end in stock storm

More: Employers added 200,000 jobs in January, topping forecasts

But if you decide to snap up shares at lower prices, be selective, advisesA�Joe Quinlan, chief market strategist forA�U.S. Trust. Consider your tolerance for risk over the long run, because your nerves are going to be tested as the market gets bumpy amid rising long-term interest rates.

In the U.S., Quinlan sees opportunity inA�financials, health care andA�industrials. LookingA�abroad, he favors stocks related to theA�e-commerce boom in China andA�robotics production in Japan.

3. Or wait and watch

The market may rebound in a big way following the recent turbulence, but it may take time..

SamA�Stovall, chiefA�investment strategist for CFRA, is predicting further declines before stocks stabilize.

Given that theA�market has gone so long without a major setback, investors may be leery about jumping back in right away.A�

4. Realize the sell-off is a blip

Since 1900, the U.S. has seenA�125 corrections of 10% or more, which is about one a year. Yet the market always goes on a��A�and eventually up.A�Since 1980, the stock market hasA�had positive annual returns in 28 of the last 37 years, Skrainka points out.

Remember that the drop Friday A�follows a 25% rise in the Dow last year.

“Ita��s really not much of a sell-off,” says Stephen Janachowski, CEO of Brouwer and Janachowski, a wealth management firm based in Mill Valley, Calif. “A 3% to 5% decline doesna��t scream ‘buy’A�or ‘sell.’A�”

Investors who are already invested should take a deep breath and sit on their hands, he says. Those who were looking for an entry point can gradually buyA�into the market if it falls further.

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