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“The essence of America — that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality, or religion. It is an idea — and what an idea it is: that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going.” – Condoleezza Rice

Morning stock market summary

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Welcome to the second half! It’s going to be a quiet start to the second half as most people seem to have taken the long weekend for July 4th.  There’s been little corporate news to speak of, but we will get the ISM Manufacturing for June and Construction Spending report for May at 10 AM.  After that, traders will start packing up for the holiday as equity markets close for trading at 1 PM eastern. Happy July 4th!

For anyone who didn’t follow the College World Series (CWS) this year, it ended up being an experience of extremes in the best of three series.  Game one looked pedestrian enough with LSU winning 4-3 over Florida.  However, it took 11 innings to get there with each team scoring a single run in three different innings during the first nine and LSU taking the lead in the top of the 11th on a Cade Beloso home run deep over the right field wall.  In game two, Florida came back with a vengeance demolishing LSU by 20 runs in a 24-4 final.  It was the most runs ever scored in a CWS game and the largest margin of victory since Notre Dame beat Northern Colorado 23-2 all the way back in 1957. The next day, it was LSU doing the thumping in game three and taking the title by scoring 18 runs to Florida’s 4. LSU ultimately took the title, but on both sides, pitching wasn’t a strong suit.

The first half of 2023 and 2022 look a lot like this year’s CWS.  Last year, it was the bears on top in what was collectively one of the worst years for financial assets as stocks and bonds were all crushed.  This year, it’s been the opposite as stocks have surged and bonds of all types are in the black on a YTD basis.  Like game two of the CWS, which had the most lopsided win since 1957, the Nasdaq had its best first half since 1983, the Nasdaq 100 had its best first half ever, and Apple (AAPL) crossed the $3 trillion market cap threshold.  Is that enough financial dopamine for you?  And if pitching wasn’t the strong suit of this year’s CWS, central to the volatility of the last two years in financial markets has been the Fed, which at times has seemed equally inconsistent.

It hasn’t just been a strong for US stocks either.  As shown in the snapshot from our Trend Analyzer below, equity ETFs from around the world all finished the first half in positive territory YTD.  Not only that, but the last week of June was also positive for every one of the regional ETFs we track, and they are all above their 50-day moving averages.  Talk about a tide lifting all boats.

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