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“Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.” – Stephen King, The Green Mile

Morning stock market summary

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Markets look to be starting off on a sluggish note this morning as Europe returns from the long holiday weekend to some mixed economic data regarding manufacturing and inflation while the Australian central bank announced a hawkish surprise at its policy meeting by hiking rates 25 bps.  In the US, futures are just moderately lower ahead of the 10 AM release of the JOLTS- the first of many employment-related indicators on top for the week. Speaking of employment, Bloomberg is reporting that Morgan Stanley plans to lay off 3,000 employees, while IBM will halt hiring and replace up to 7,800 positions and replace them with AI.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  You’ve heard the phrase thousands of times before, and it’s uncanny how often it applies to real-world situations.  This morning, though, we wanted to show you an example of how things this year couldn’t be more different than they were last year.  Through the end of April last year, the three worst-performing sectors on a YTD basis were Communication Services (XLC), Consumer Discretionary (XLY), and Technology (XLK), while Energy (XLE) was the only sector with any meaningful gains. This year, through yesterday’s close, the three best-performing sectors on a YTD basis have been Communication Services, Technology, and Consumer Discretionary while the worst-performing sector has been Energy.  So basically, this year’s market leaders and laggards couldn’t be more opposite from each other.

The only sectors that have been exceptions in any way are Consumer Staples (which is the only sector that was up YTD in both 2022 and 2023) and Financials and Health Care (which are the only two sectors that were down YTD in both 2022 and 2023).  When it comes to sector performance so far this year, the more things change, the more they change.  Then again, when it comes to broader market concerns, the Fed still seems to be all anyone can focus on, economic indicators suggest weakness or even a recession on the horizon, and the war in Ukraine is still going.

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