September is the cruelest month for stocks. Pros share their trading tips — and what to buy

August has been a choppy month despite an eleventh-hour rally. September, a historically stormy month , may not be any better. But some on Wall Street believe that the S & P 500 will be higher by the end of the year. There are a few factors that investors have to consider — how much the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue to hike interest rates , how sticky inflation will be, and key economic data on areas like jobs and housing. The pros share their expectations and tips for how investors can trade in the month ahead. The volatility isn’t over The “potential bite” of aggressive Fed policy could lead to more volatility, said Richard Saperstein, chief investment officer at investment firm Treasury Partners, in a Tuesday note. “The stock market volatility seen throughout August is not over and we expect continued volatility in September as the market starts to price-in a slowdown in economic activity caused by the lag effect of the Federal Reserve’s past rate hikes,” he said, adding that the housing market will be pressured by new highs in mortgage rates. Ben Kirby, portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management, warned investors that “now is not the time to take risk.” “Having a bit of a cautious stance probably makes some sense right now,” he told CNBC’s ” Squawk Box Asia ” on Tuesday. That’s because risk assets are “relatively expensively valued” and there are some signs of a slowdown, he said. And Carol Schleif, chief investment officer at BMO Family Office, cautioned that more rate hikes are still on the table, depending on economic data. She said the Fed is likely to hold off on rate hikes in light of moderating inflation, moderating manufacturing activity, slowing growth from China and weak European manufacturing and economic data. She added, however, that she doesn’t expect near-term cuts. George Ball, chairman of Sanders Morris Harris, was the outlier in his optimism. “September is historically the stormiest month of the year for equities as the Barbie days of summer come to an end,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t think that will be the case this year. The economic resilience of the domestic economy, and the earnings outlook that comes with it, argues otherwise.” Avoid tech — but not completely Avoid mega-cap tech stocks such as the “Magnificent Seven” now, the pros said, referring to Apple , Amazon , Alphabet , Meta , Microsoft , Nvidia and Tesla — tech stocks that have made massive gains this year. “Big tech stocks have run and valuations are richer than they have been. It may be time to trim back on the largest of tech names, locking in healthy profits, if positions have become overweight in a portfolio,” Schleif said. Ball said the Magnificent Seven are great companies but “played out” in terms of earnings growth rates. But Schleif said it’s still important for investors not to exit their Big Tech positions completely, since such firms are investing heavily in artificial intelligence, which is “bound to” pay off in the long term. “Broadening one’s equity exposure in mid- and small-cap stocks and industries that have lagged may help balance the strong growth bias of tech exposure.” Dave Sekera, chief U.S. market strategist at Morningstar, said on Thursday that not all tech stocks are overvalued. He still sees some select opportunities in Uber , Autodesk and Checkpoint Software. Ball likes mid-cap tech companies, such as Argentine e-commerce giant MercadoLibre , U.S. advertising tech company Trade Desk , and telehealth firm Teladoc Health . What to buy Kirby of Thornburg said he would focus on areas of the stock market that are defensive in nature, as well as add international exposure. One stock he likes is derivatives exchange CME , which he thinks will “benefit” from the volatility. “Whenever volatility goes higher, as it often does in September … people want to hedge more,” he told CNBC. “And the more that they hedge that drives volumes … So that’s one we like from a cyclical standpoint, also from a secular standpoint,” he said of CME. Investors can trade futures and options at CME in order to manage risk. Ball said he would look for areas of “values and momentum.” He particularly likes the hotel sector, where prices per room are “likely to skyrocket.” He named Hyatt Hotels , Host Hotels & Resorts — a REIT — and Hilton Hotels . Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s Andrew Slimmon, who predicted this week that the S & P 500 will be “closer” to 5,000 by the end of the year, named three stocks to buy: Alphabet , industrial equipment rental firm United Rentals and building materials firm CRH .

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