In my weekend Saturday Night Quarterback on my subscription JubakAM.com site I said that this week would, probably, answer the question of whether Friday’s big bounce was just a bounce, the start of a buy on the dip rally, or even a bear market rally with a bit of staying power.
Two days into the week I think the market action is moving in favor of a bear market rally, one of those often quite powerful upside moves that punctuate extended bear markets.
It’s not just the the major indexes were up–the Standard & Poor’s 500 closed ahead 2.02% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.34%. But also that the Russell 2000 small cap index, which tends to be the most sensitive of the big indexes to shifts in market sentiment about the economy, outpaced the big-tech-heavy NASDAQ 100 with a gain of 3.19% on the day to 2.62% on the NASDAQ 100.
I think we’re seeing a rally based on a belief that the economy might be OK. That’s a sentiment that today was supported by April’s strong retail sales report.
My tentative conclusion that this is a bear market rally is also based on my tracking of what went up the most today
Of course, we had big gains in the individual investor favorite momentum stocks like AMC Entertainment (AMC) with its 10.16% move and GameStop (GME) with a move of 9.55%.
But we also saw solid (or better) gains in what I think of as the bread-and-butter growth stocks. Nvidia (NVDA), for example, was up 5.29% on the day. Marvell Group (MRVL) added 5.52%. Applied Materials (AMAT) gained 5.76%. And Block (SQ) picked up 6.39%.
But importantly for my this-is-a-bear-market-rally thesis, the gains weren’t limited to technology stocks. Southern Copper (SCCO) gained 5.64% and fellow copper commodity stock First Quantum Minerals (FQVLF) powered higher by 7.31%. Lithium miner Albemarle (ALB) gained 5.70%. The entire banking sector followed Citigroup’s (C) 7.56% gain on news that Warren Buffett had bought shares (while selling Wells Fargo (WFC). Bank of America (BAC), for example, was up 3.39% and US Bancorp (USB) gained 2.86%. (Wells Fargo gained 3.55% even on the “Buffett sells” news.)
Drug stocks picked up solid gains with Pfizer (PFE) up 1.32% and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) up 1.70%. You might remember that the failure of drug stocks to make it into the green on Friday was one of the worries I had about the longevity of Friday’s move.
Industrial cyclicals such as Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere (DE) were up too gaining 2.85% and 2.62%, respectively.
Now, the task for investors is figuring out whether or not this is really is a bear market rally–in which case it could go on for a few weeks or even a couple of months. (The likely June and July interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve would seem to be an obstacle but I think the market has priced in two 50 basis point increases. That would make expectations about September and the rest of 2022 the real obstacle.)
The gains in the airline sector today argue to me that we could see hopes for summer revenue gains drive the market higher into, say, July. American Airlines (AAL) was up 7.67% today. United Airlines (UAL) gained 7.88%. And Delta Air Lines (DAL) added 6.68%. (Disney (DIS), which I put in the same summer group, was up 3.29% on the day.)
One indicator to watch is the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX). The index, which goes up when investors and traders buy more options and futures to protect against volatility and falls when volatility fears recede, was down 4.97% today to 26.10. That’s still elevated by historical standards (where 17 is the long-term average), but is way down from the 34.75 hit on May 9. I’d watch to see if the index retreats further toward 20 or so–a sign that investors and traders think the rally will last for a while. A move back toward 30 would indicate to me that the market has doubts about the longevity of the upward trend.
Full disclosure: I own Call options on Delta and American and shares of Albemarle in my personal portfolio.