With a late-morning surge in equity prices pushing the S&P 500 above its all-time closing high from 9/20, we wanted to see where individual stocks in the index stand relative to their own 52-week highs.  The chart below shows the distance (in percentage terms) that every stock in the S&P 500 is trading from its 52-week high.  Overall, the S&P 500 is now within 1% of its 52-week high. For individual stocks, though, the average distance from their respective 52-week highs is actually just over 12%.  Also, in case you were wondering, the blue bar all the way to the right represents Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) which is down 67% from its 52-week high!  There may always be a bull market somewhere, but as NKTR proves, there always a bear market somewhere too.

With the S&P 500 knocking on the door to new all-time highs, we’re going to also want to see an expansion in the number of stocks hitting new highs.  So in order to see which sectors pose the best chance of expanding the new high list, the table below breaks down each sector within the S&P 500 and shows how far stocks in each one are, on average, trading down from their respective 52-week highs as well as what percentage of stocks in the sector are trading within 5% of a 52-week high.

The Utilities sector tops the list with the average stock in the sector down just 4.2% from its 52-week high and 79% of stocks in the sector trading within 5% of a new high.  After Utilities, just two other sectors have more than half of their components trading within 5% of a new high (Technology and Industrials).  Given the sector’s relatively low volatility, it’s not too surprising that Utilities top the list.  The fact that more than half of stocks in the Technology and Industrials sectors are within 5% of their 52-week highs, though, is impressive.  These are two sectors to watch as the S&P 500 attempts to take out its highs.

At the other end of the table, Energy is still trying to recover from its weakness last year as the average stock in the sector is still down over 20% from its 52-week high and barely 10% of stocks in the sector are within 5% of a new high.  Because of its relatively low weight in the S&P 500, Energy hasn’t acted as much of a drag.  Health Care, though, is a different story.  After the recent carnage in the sector, the average Health Care stock is down nearly 18% from its 52-week high, and less than 10% of stocks in the sector are within 5% of a new high.  With a weighting of over 13% in the S&P 500 and 61 stocks in the sector, it is going to be difficult to get any meaningful expansion in new highs with Health Care stuck in the infirmary.  Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Premium to unlock all that Bespoke’s research has to offer!

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