You can judge the stock market’s mood pretty accurately today, Tuesday, March 30, from just a few price movements.
Take a look at the performance of bank stocks, the small cap Russell 2000, the CBOE VIX “fear index,” and technology stocks to see where we’re likely to be headed for the rest of this week.
Bank stocks were solidly higher as worries that the blow up of the Archegos Capital Management hedge fund blow up posed a risk to the global banking system. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF was up 0.70% today and the Invesco KBWB Bank ETF (KBWB) closed the session up 2.01%. Big banks, those on the front lines if the disaster was to shift from really bad news at a few banks (Credit Suisse and Nomura) to a general banking sector meltdown were up with Wells Fargo (WFC) ahead 2.47% at the close; Bank of America (BAC) up 1.77%, Citigroup (C) higher by 193%, and JPMorgan Chase gaining 1.18%. Most indicative of the “sigh of relief” was the 1.93% increase for Goldman Sachs (GS) shares. That investment bank set off the block trade chaos on Friday my dumping huge lots of stocks in the Archegos portfolio as the hedge fund faced massive margin calls. But even as bank losses in the Archegos debacle as at least $10 billion, according to JPMorgan Chase, there’s a sense of relief that the early selling, as nasty as it was for anyone who owned shares of ViacomCBS or Rocket Companies, will amount to the worst of the blow up.
The small cap Russell 2000 closed up 1.72% for the day, by far the best performance of any index. The gains, in my opinion, were built on news that consumer confidence has moved higher on the combination of big stimulus from the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress and a continued acceleration the daily rate of U.S. vaccinations. The implication of the index’s action is that the domestic economy–whatever the noise from Wall Street–is looking better and better as summer approaches. (And as all the economic statistics get a big boost from year over year comparisons that put the first, second and third quarters of 2020 up against the same period in 2021. Individual post-vaccine economic recovery stocks moved higher. For example, American Airlines (AAL) closed up 5.28% and MGM Resorts International (MGM) ended 2.85% higher.
The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), which had climbed yesterday by 11.61% to 21.05 as investors and traders bought hedges against market volatility, moved lower today by 5.45% to close at 19.61 as investors and traders decided that they didn’t need so much volatility protection after all. Like the gains for bank stocks, the VIX decline today, counts as a sigh of relief and a vote for complacency again.
Technology stocks didn’t have in the general relief or move to the upside. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) closed down 0.95%. The NASDAQ 100, with its heavy weighting of BIG TECH, fell 0.53%. Among those big technology stocks, Apple (AAPL) was down 1.23%; Microsoft (MSFT) gave up 1.44%; Facebook (FB) dropped 0.97%; and Amazon (AMZN) slid 0.66%. I think these stocks are reacting to the continued rise in Treasury yields. These stocks, perhaps oddly, have been used a lot as blue chip and Treasury surrogates as they never seemed to put in a down day. Now that yields are climbing, they are showing a tendency to give back some of the last stage of their gains.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury closed today unchanged at 1.71%. But yesterday the yield added 4 basis points. And just a week ago, on March 23, the yield was moving in the other direction as it ended the day at 1.62%, down 7 basis points for the day.
At least that’s my theory. I’m open to other explanation. And mind you any explanation has to account for the strange gains in many parts of the technology sector even as these big tech stocks fell.
For example, many of what I call the secondary high momentum technology stocks rose strongly. QuantumScape (QS) gained 3.94%; Tesla (TSLA) was ahead 3.98%; NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) climbed 1.87%: CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) smoked higher by 4.05%. Solar stocks SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG), Enphase (ENPH), and SunRun (RUN) gained 4.28%, 5.95%, and 11.58%, respectively. My theory on that is that these stocks are buy on the dip favorites of the momentum crowd and really don’t have much connection to such realities as Treasury yields.
In my next post, I’ll make some suggestions on moves to make on today’s action and the likelihood that it indicates the trend for the next five sessions or so–and maybe even longer as we approach earnings season. The big banks kick off earnings season with JPMorgan Chnae and Wells Fargo on April 14–two weeks from tomorrow–with earnings from Citigroup and Bank of America on April 15. (Yep, real long-term thinking.)