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“I am not responsible, but I will find out who is.” – J.P. Morgan

Morning stock market summary

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Even with First Republic going into receivership over the weekend, it’s a quiet morning in the futures market.  Perhaps it’s because you couldn’t have had a more telegraphed bank failure or simply that most world markets are closed for May Day. Economic data overnight has been mixed in the few reports that have been released so far, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to get the full barrage of data as markets that are closed today reopen for trading. One notable weak spot in the PMI data was China where both the Manufacturing and Services sector reports were weaker than expected (manufacturing below 50 and services above).

This week will be an extremely busy one for economic data with ISM Manufacturing today, ADP Employment, ISM Services, and the FOMC Wednesday, Jobless Claims on Thursday, and then the Employment report Friday. Oh, and don’t forget about earnings too.

Despite the tumultuous issues in the US banking system and specifically the demise of First Republic (FRC), US stocks managed to finish the week higher capping off what has been a rally of over 8% for the S&P 500 in the first four months of the year and a rally of nearly double that in the Nasdaq composite.  The only blemish is the small-cap Russell 2000 which is barely hanging on to gains for the year.  While a lot of attention is placed on the small caps, though, keep in mind that the Russell 2000’s entire market cap is less than Apple’s (AAPL)!

Now that the first four months are behind us, we’re at the dreaded point of the year where it’s time to sell in May, although as most aware and we pointed out last week, there’s some nuance to that.  The chart below summarizes the performance of S&P 500 sectors during the month of May going back to 2000.  Over the last 23 years, every sector except for Telecom Services (now Communication Services) has had gains during the month of May on a median basis, and the S&P 500’s median performance has been a gain of 1.07% with gains 70% of the time. Small caps, which have lagged so badly this year, have tended to perform even better with a median gain of 1.51% and gains 61% of the time.

Looking at individual sectors, Technology has been the clear winner as it’s the only one with a median gain of over 2% (although positive just 57% of the time). There’s been a lot of volatility for the sector, though, as it has seen a move of +/-5% during the month more than half of the time.  The only other sectors with median gains of more than 1.5% have been Financials (1.70%) and Materials (1.66%), but both sectors have only been positive during the month 61% of the time.  Speaking of consistency, the only three sectors that have been up during May more than two-thirds of the time are Health Care (74%), Real Estate (74%), and Consumer Staples (70%).

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