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“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra

Morning stock market summary

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What you think of the stock market these days will depend a lot on which index you’re looking at.  While futures are up across the board today, the Dow has been down every day this week and eight of the last nine trading days.  The Nasdaq, on the other hand, has been up in four of the last five trading days and is near its highs of the year.  There’s little in the way of news driving the positive tone this morning, although the delay of the meeting between political leaders in DC over the debt ceiling until next week has been taken as a positive sign that the two sides are making progress. Along with the positive tone in futures, treasury yields are higher, but the two-year yield is still only at 3.92%. Crude oil prices are up modestly, and Energy Secretary Granholm has reportedly said that purchases for the SPR could resume in June.

On the economic calendar this morning, Import and Export prices will be released at 8:30 while Michigan Sentiment will be the least report of the week at 10 AM.

The performance disparity between major US equity indices has been well documented, but over the last several days, the gap has widened even more.  Through yesterday’s close, the S&P 500 was up 7.6% on the year while the Dow was up only 0.5%.  At 7.1%, the performance gap between the two indices on a YTD basis through 5/11 has never been wider, and the only time in the post-WWII period that it ever even exceeded five percentage points was in 1985 and 2020.

Given the differences in the way each index is constructed (market cap weighting of 500 stocks for the S&P 500 compared to a price-weighted index of 30 stocks for the Dow), performance disparities this large may not be too surprising, but since 1945, the correlation of daily returns for the two indices has been +0.95 meaning they’re almost perfectly correlated.

At the other end of the spectrum, there have been more years (seven) where the Dow outperformed the S&P 500 by over five percentage points YTD through this point in the year, but the most extreme was in 1999 when at this point in the year, the S&P 500 was up 10.3% while the Dow was already up over 20%!  Comparisons between now and the late 1990s/early 2000s have been common, but in the case of performance disparities, the two periods couldn’t have been further apart.

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