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“The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.”– John Dewey

Morning stock market summary

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A negative week is looking to end on a negative note as equity futures are lower following the declines in Asia overnight and Europe this morning (although those were mostly follow-through from yesterday afternoon’s weakness here in the US). Given the likely escalation, or at least a continuation of the war in the Middle East, it’s hard to blame anyone for not wanting to take on added risk into the weekend.  If there’s one silver lining, the 10-year yield briefly touched 5% overnight but has since pulled back (for now). The economic calendar is quiet for today, and there are just two Fed speakers scheduled to speak (Harker and Mester)

“There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.“ Investors have a tendency to take every recent market event and interpret it as “the most important” this or that.  When it comes to various asset classes in recent days, though, we have seen some MAJOR moves, and we couldn’t help but think of the above lyrics from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” after going through them.

First, crude oil. While still off its highs from just a few weeks ago, the 9.1% five-trading day rally in WTI ranks in the 96th percentile of all five-day periods since 1983.

Second, the 10-year US Treasury yield.  In what looks like a chart of an internet stock from the late 1990s, yields have been on a one-way move for what seems like forever now. In just the last five trading days, the 10-year yield is up 29 basis points (bps) and right near 5%.  Going back to 1983, that ranks in the 97th percentile of all five-day moves in the 10-year yield.

Finally, gold.  In the same five trading days through Thursday’s close, gold rallied 5.5% breaking above both its 50 and 200-day moving averages as well as the downtrend that has been in place since the Spring.  The magnitude of the rally also ranks in the 98th percentile of all five-day moves since 1983. Not bad for a commodity that was just trading at six-month lows two weeks ago!

By themselves, these moves over the last week are big, but the fact that they’ve all occurred in the same five-day period is extraordinary.  Since 1983, when data for all three asset classes is available, there have only been two other periods where gold and crude oil each rallied more than 5% while the 10-year yield jumped more than 25 basis points (bps). The first was in August 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait which led up to the first Gulf War, while the second period was during the Financial Crisis when there were three separate occurrences (September 2008, January 2009, and March 2009).  Both periods were seminal in US history for years to come, but the market impact varied.  1990 was no walk in the park, but it left a much smaller scar on the market than the Financial Crisis.

Now, just because we’ve had big moves again this time around doesn’t tell us anything about where the market is going in the future, but when you simultaneously see such large moves in different asset classes, it’s hard not to think “there’s something happening”.

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