All Day Rallies A Thing of the Past

It seems like a distant memory now, but Monday’s rally marked just the 13th time all year (and over the last 100 trading days) that the S&P 500 tracking ETF (SPY) opened higher and traded in positive territory all day (‘100% positive day’).  The chart below shows the rolling 100-trading day total number of 100% positive days for SPY since 1994, shortly after the ETF launched.  The current level of 13 is already well below the long-term average of 18, but last week, the reading was even lower at 12.  The last time the 100-day rolling total was lower than that was in May 2009, and the lowest readings ever recorded were in periods beginning in October 2002 and September 2008 with just six in a 100-trading day span.

What makes the current period unique is how quickly the rate of 100% positive days has plummeted.  100 trading days ago, the rolling total was more than twice the current level at 29.  Also, it was only in February 2021 (less than sixteen months ago) that the number of 100% positive days reached a record high of 33 on 2/4/21.  That peak came just weeks before the Federal Government sent out the third and final round of stimulus checks.  Just as massive amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus helped to support markets during COVID, the withdrawal of these supports has introduced gravity back into the equation.  Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.

S&P 500 Positive Territory

Massive Sector Performance Spreads

There’s no questioning that the equity market has been extremely volatile this year. So far in 2022, the S&P 500 has averaged an absolute daily move of 121 basis points (bps). Although the broader index has been incredibly weak over the last 100 trading days (down 17.1%), performance among individual sectors has diverged widely, as Energy has gained 50.7% while the Communication Services sector has declined 32.0%. The 82.7 percentage point performance spread between the two sectors is one of the highest on record. Only July of 2009 and March of 2000 saw higher readings.

Since 1990, there have only been six times in which the best-worst 100-day performance spread crossed above 70 ppts for the first time in at least 50 trading days. This tends to occur amidst a volatile market environment. In the late 90’s, investors flooded into technology stocks while dumping ‘traditional’ stocks, which led to the Technology sector outperforming Energy by 70.2 percentage points in a 100-trading day span ending on 1/28/1999. When the dot-com bubble began to burst, the inverse occurred, and Materials outperformed Technology by 71.3% in the 100 trading days ending 3/9/2001. Coming out of the Global Financial Crisis, the Financials sector roared off of a depressed base, leading to outperformance against the Communication Services sector of 89.7 ppts. In late February of 2021, the Energy sector began to bounce back after the demand shock in the industry began to abate, while the Utilities sector remained relatively weak, leading to a 100-day performance spread of 71.1 ppts. This year, the sky-rocketing price of oil has propelled energy stocks higher while the Communication Services sector has been hampered by concerns that a peak demand environment was reached in 2020 and 2021 while valuation multiples have simultaneously contracted (largely due to the Fed’s hawkish pivot) pushing the 100-trading day performance spread out to 82.7 ppts.

As investors, we must remain forward-looking. So, what typically happens after dramatic performance spreads are reached between the best and worst sectors? It’s a small sample size, but based on the previous five occurrences, investors should consider rotating out of the best performing sector (which in this case would be Energy) after the spread hits 70 percentage points and move into the worst performing sector (Communication Services).

Three months after these occurrences, the worst-performing sector over the prior 100 trading days has booked a median gain of 12.1%, which is nine ppts better than that of the best performing sector.  Six months later, the median performance of the worst-performing sector in the initial 100 trading days outperformed the best performing sector by 15.5 ppts. Interestingly, twelve months later, the best performing sector in the initial 100 trading days regained the lead over the worst-performing sector outperforming on a median basis by a margin of 17.2% to 8.3%.  In terms of consistency, three and six months later, the previously worst performing sector outperformed the best performing sector three out of five times, but a year later, the previously best performing sector outperformed the worst-performing sector four out of five times.  Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

S&P 500 forward performance... Can energy keep it up?

Stocks Below Pre-COVID Highs – 5/18/22

Last week, we outlined the percentage of stocks in each S&P 500 sector that had fallen below their pre-COVID highs to show that many of the stocks that surged due to pandemic effects have significantly fallen off, netting long-term holders a negative return since the onslaught of the pandemic. (Read it here.)  Yesterday, the S&P 500 fell by over four percent to set a new 52 week low, breaking the 4,000 level. The index is still up over 15% relative to its pre-COVID high, but as of yesterday’s close, 41.2% of S&P 500 members were below their respective pre-COVID highs, as 26 members crossed below this critical level yesterday.

Notably, six of the 32 S&P 500 consumer staples stocks crossed below, moving the percentage from 28.1% to 46.9% on the back of weak earnings reports from Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT). 66.7% of Communication Services stocks and 60.0% of Real Estate stocks in the S&P 500 are below their pre-COVID highs, but only 18.5% and 23.8% of Materials and Energy stocks are below this level, respectively. Additionally, 8.2% of S&P 500 members were within 5% of their pre-COVID highs, and 15.1% are within 10%.

Weakness in Consumer Staples

S&P 500 Stocks Below Pre-COVID Highs

Four S&P 500 stocks crossed below this critical level for the first time in a while yesterday: Cognizant Technology (CTSH), MGM Resorts (MGM), Tyler Tech (TYL) and Verisk Analytics (VRSK). This comes amidst weakness in the Technology sector (XLK) versus the broader S&P 500, as the sector is down close to 25% on a YTD basis versus the S&P 500’s drawdown of about 18%. However, XLK is still up close to 30% relative to pre-COVID highs.

Stocks breaking critical levels

Additionally, there are three stocks that entered a 2% channel above their pre-COVID highs for the first time in a while. Dexcom (DXCM) entered the channel amidst weakness in the broader energy space, and Pentair (PNR) extended the downtrend that is yet to break. Walmart (WMT) sold off significantly in two consecutive days after a weak earnings report and is now less than 1% from its pre-COVID high. A month ago WMT was 30% above this level.  Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

Stocks near pre-COVID highs

S&P 500 Up 2% At Noon

After a tumultuous week, the S&P 500 gapped higher this morning and continued to rip throughout the morning. As of noon, the S&P 500 was up 2.2%, a much-needed rally after a week of pain. Since the start of 1983, the S&P 500 has been up by 2%+ at noon 110 different times, 22 of which have occurred in the pandemic era. There has been only one occurrence this year (3/9) and two in 2021 (3/1/21 and 12/7/21). On a median basis, the S&P 500 averages a noon-to-close gain of 54 basis points (bps) when it rallies 2%+ in the morning, which is over ten times the median of all periods (5 bps). However, looking at just Friday occurrences, the S&P 500 has had a median drawdown of 9 bps from noon to the close, which is 11 bps weaker than that of all periods. Additionally, Friday was the only weekday with median noon-to-close returns below that of all periods when the index had gained at least 2% by noon.

S&P 500 up 2% at noon

Friday is also the only day of the week with lower than average positivity rates following 2%+ morning rallies. Thursday is the strongest with a positivity rate of 83%. Overall, the index has performed positively from noon to close 70% of the time following these occurrences. click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

S&P 500 up 2% at noon

Stocks Near Pre-COVID Highs – 5/13/22

Two days ago, we outlined the percentage of stocks in each S&P 500 sector that were below their pre-COVID highs to show that many of the stocks that surged due to pandemic effects have significantly fallen off, netting long-term holders a negative return since the onslaught of the pandemic. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be outlining the S&P 500 stocks that are breaking below/above their pre-COVID highs, as we did yesterday. Yesterday, the S&P 500 fell by 10 basis points to close at a new 52-week low, but the index is still up over 15% relative to pre-COVID highs. As of yesterday’s close, 40.4% of S&P 500 stocks were below this critical level, an 80 basis point improvement relative to the close on 5/11. 71.4% of utilities and 66.7% of communication services stocks were below their respective pre-COVID highs as of yesterday’s close. On the other hand, only 18.5% and 23.8% of S&P 500 stocks in the materials and energy sectors were below their respective highs between the start of 2019 and the end of February 2020. Additionally, 7.8% of S&P 500 stocks were between 0-5% above their pre-COVID highs (39 members).

Stocks below pre-COVID highs

Only one stock crossed below its pre-COVID highs for the first time since breaking above that level: MGM Resorts (MGM). However, the stock gapped higher by over 3% today, thus returning above this level. The weak performance as of late is due to a variety of factors including China’s zero-Covid policy, the broader market drawdown, and a weak reaction to the latest earnings report, even though the company beat on the top and bottom line.

MGM chart

One stock traded lower to enter a +2% channel relative to pre-COVID highs for the first time in a couple of months: Jack Henry (JKHY). JKHY is a payment processing and lending firm and competes with the likes of Block (SQ) and Toast (TOST). To gain access to our chart scanner tool, click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

JKHY Chart