After a breather the last few weeks, the stock market rally appears to be broadening again. Small-caps were lagging the last few weeks as the Russell traded flat. Small-caps got back into gear this week with breakouts and fresh 52-week highs in the Russell 2000 ETF and S&P SmallCap 600 SPDR.
Stocks turned a bit mixed the last two weeks, but the bulk of the evidence remains bullish, both long-term and short-term. Looking at the five biggest equal-weight sectors, we saw new highs in the EW Technology ETF (RYT), EW Industrials ETF (RGI) and EW Healthcare ETF (RYH) this week. Technology led in 2019 and continues to lead in 2020.
It’s just the second trading day of 2020 and already the markets are setting up for a test. Stock futures are sharply lower as the S&P 500 looks set to open down around 1%. Gold, the Dollar and Treasury bonds are sharply higher as money looks for alternatives. A sharp decline in the S&P 500 could reverse the short-term uptrend and herald the much awaited correction.
There are plenty of strong uptrends in the core ETF list. In fact, 50 of the 60 ETFs in this core list are in uptrends of some sort. The S&P 500 SPDR (SPY), Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ) and Technology SPDR (XLK) are in group 1 and in the strongest uptrends. Large-caps and large-cap techs are still the strongest overall.
The strong continue to strengthen and the laggards are leading short-term. Overall, this suggest that the bull market continues to broaden and pick up more converts. The S&P 500 SPDR, Nasdaq 100 ETF and Technology SPDR were leading all year and they simply extended their leads with fresh new highs this week. The energy-related ETFs were lagging all year and then surged over the last five weeks.
There is not much change in the broad market picture. The S&P 500 SPDR hit a new high again this week and extended its uptrend. The long-term trend has been up since February and SPY has been on a tear since early October. Barring a 2.22 point decline today (Friday), the S&P 500 SPDR is set to close higher for 11 of the last 12 weeks. It is an extraordinary run (+9.71% since early October), and shows no signs of slowing.
Today’s report will focus on the S&P 500, the current advance and a future scenario. I am focused on the S&P 500, and SPY by extension, because this index is the driving force in the stock market. It accounts for some 80% of the US equity market and is the most widely followed benchmark for US stocks. Small-caps and mid-caps are more likely to follow the S&P 500, not the other way around.
Strength in the US stock market is broad-based with 25 of the 46 (53%) equity-related ETFs hitting new highs over the last five days (including EFA). Of the 21 ETFs that did not hit new highs, several led the stock market over the last two weeks with big counter-trend bounces. Four energy-related ETFs were up double digits the last 11 days and XLE (+5.83%) is the leading sector over this time period.
The major index ETFs extended their breakouts as the bullish forces, which were highlighted last week, dominate heading into year end. Three of three technical forces remain bullish. Two of the three “other” forces turned from rumor to news this week.
Even though I mentioned these fundamental forces last week, the technical forces are what really drive my market stance.
The market finally showed a vulnerable side this week with a sharp pullback on Monday and Tuesday. A corrective period at this stage would be perfectly normal because stocks were up sharply in October and November. We also saw several flag breakouts fail. These failures are not enough to affect the long-term trends