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“There are no gains, without pains.” – Benjamin Franklin

Morning stock market summary

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With the Dow up 12 days in a row and every other major US index trading at some sort of short-term extreme overbought level, the recent gains seem like they have pain free, but when you get rallies like these and the major averages are still well below their highs from late 2021 and early 2022, pain was involved at some point!

US stocks are set to kick off the day on a subdued note with mixed earnings overnight weighing on the markets. Futures on the Dow, which has traded higher for 12 days in a row, were firmly lower earlier, but have gotten a modest boost after Boeing (BA) reported a narrower-than-expected loss on stronger revenues and better-than-expected free cash flow.  At this point, whether the streak ties the post-WWII record of 13 trading days rests in the hands of Jerome Powell and what kind of tone he takes in today’s post-meeting press conference. A 25-bps hike is a done deal, but how Powell guides markets going forward will dictate which way stocks finish the day.

Mega caps have driven most of the gains in the market this year, and it’s been discussed endlessly over the last seven months. What people seem to forget, though, is how much these stocks underperformed the market in 2022.  The chart below shows the relative strength of the S&P 500 versus the equal-weighted index since the start of 2022.  For all of 2022, the market cap-weighted index steadily underperformed the equal-weighted index with little reprieve. Early this year, though, with the shift of the calendar, relative strength shifted too.

Just as talk of mega-cap outperformance crowded out nearly every financial-related topic in recent weeks, the trend started to shift again.  Since the start of June, the equal-weighted S&P 500 has been outperforming again, and since the start of 2022, the performance of the two indices is essentially the same. For all the noise, ink, and pixels used talking about how the market-cap-weighted S&P 500 has been outperforming lately, did you know that less than a percentage point separates the performance of the two indices since the start of 2022? Things often seem one way at first glance, but if you stop and look a little longer, the picture changes.

Just this quarter, which started a month after the relative strength between the two indices shifted, equal-weighted outperformance relative to the market cap-weighted index has been broad. The chart below compares the performance of the market cap versus equal-weighted S&P 500 sector ETFs since the start of Q3.  For every sector besides Consumer Staples and Technology, the equal-weighted indices have been outperforming, and the sectors where the performance disparity has been the widest have been in Energy, Health Care, and Real Estate.

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