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“The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Captain Cook

Morning stock market summary

Below is a snippet of commentary from today’s Morning Lineup.  Start a two-week trial to Bespoke Premium to view the full report.  

It’s looking like a much more positive start to the day than many others recently as the S&P 500 is indicated to open up by about half a percent, and the Nasdaq is looking at a 1% gain.  A strong batch of economic data has put a little bit of a damper on things as rates ticked higher, but outside of the Dow where a large decline in UnitedHealth (UNH) is weighing in the index, the start of the trading day at least looks to be positive.

As far as the economic data is concerned, both Building Permits and Housing Starts came in better than expected, initial jobless claims dropped to 187K for the lowest reading since last January, continuing claims also beat, and even though the Philly Fed report was weaker than expected (-10.6 vs -6.5 expected), it wasn’t near the disaster that the Empire Manufacturing report was earlier in the week.

Anyone who was expecting a continued broadening out of the market in 2024 has been majorly disappointed by how the year has started.  Eleven trading days into the year, the cap-weighted S&P 500 has declined 0.64%, but the equal-weighted version of the index is down much more with a decline of 2.55%. That puts the performance spread between the two indices at 1.91 percentage points and represents the widest performance gap eleven trading days into the year in favor of the market cap weighted index since at least 1990.

It may sound hard to believe, but this year’s outperformance on the part of the market cap weighted index ends a streak of three years where the equal weighted index outperformed the cap weighted index at the year’s outset. In two of those three years, the trend reversed for the remainder of the year as the cap weighted index outperformed the equal weighted index, including last year where the gap in favor of the cap weighted index was the second highest of any year since 1990 trailing only 1998.  Looking more broadly, in the 34 years since 1990, the direction of the performance gap between the cap weighted versus the equal weighted index eleven trading days into the year continued in the same direction for the remainder of the year less than 60% of the time. In other words, it’s hardly set in stone that just because the cap weighted index came out of the year strong this year doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue for the remainder of the year.

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