A last-minute rally saved the Dow Jones Industrial Average from a near 1,000-point loss on Monday, but the index did wind up losing more than 600 points as it followed overseas markets fretting about the debt-riddled Chinese real estate company Evergrande.

Ken Kamen, president of Hamilton-based Mercadien Asset Management, characterized Evergrande as more of an "excuse du jour," and said the U.S. stock market is still within 5% of its all-time high.

That might be a better position than anyone could have predicted on Jan. 1 of this year, heading into the 11th month of the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines just starting to be made available to the first eligible tier.

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"The fact that the market has done so well and we're getting back to business, I think people had to be looking, at some point, that the market needs to take a breath," Kamen said. "Corporate earnings still look good, the economy still looks strong, the consumer certainly is strong, so I think that people have to look at it and take it in stride, to say that, 'OK, this is one of those times where this is just a part of investing.'"

In addition to the 614-point loss in the Dow, down 1.78% to close at 33,970.47, the S&P 500 finished down 75.26 points Monday (minus 1.70%), closing at 4,357.73, and the Nasdaq composite lost 330.06 (minus 2.19%), ending the day at 14,713.90.

It all amounted to the worst single day for stocks since May, but Kamen said that's more of a concern for day traders, not long-term investors with diverse portfolios.

"If you have a good basket of stocks and you're well-diversified, you have to expect these turns in the market," he said. "As a matter of fact, they should be in your game plan. You should have already stress-tested your portfolio."

Looking down the road, the Federal Reserve is expected to announce this week that it will pull back on its suppression of interest rates as a pandemic coping mechanism.

Wall Street is also keeping a watchful eye on Congress, which continues to hammer out the finer points of a Biden administration infrastructure plan that could be costly.

But for now, Kamen said Monday's stock activity, while jarring, is normal.

"People forget that corrections are a normal part of the market, even though we haven't seen a 5% correction in a long time, let alone a 10% correction," he said. "So part of it is that a correction was overdue."

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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