The Bull Keeps Running
What Does The Strength Over the Last 60 to 120 Days Mean?

March 3, 2024

Weekly Market Outlook

By Donn Goodman


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Welcome back to our weekly update and Market Outlook.  Glad you are here and happy to share some insights about the market, the economy, and what the future may hold.

It is a good time to be an investor in almost any market (as shown below).

 

The frenzy that continues around AI (artificial intelligence) has propelled this market higher.  More importantly, most of the analysts that are covering AI and technology stocks continue to believe we are in the early innings of a multi-year revolution in productivity and company profitability.  This emerging technology has blindsided Wall Street forecasters.

In the past week alone, Piper Sandler, UBS and Barclays have all boosted their S&P 500 Index targets, which is up 7% to start the year.  Two firms, Goldman Sachs and UBS have lifted their targets twice since December.  Jonathan Golub, UBS Investment Bank Chief US Equity Strategies, said, “I’ve been doing the strategy job for about 20 years, and this is the first time I have ever done something like that”.  His recent second revision to his 2024 target was raised to 5400 and tied him with Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research who had been the highest among 25 strategists tracked by Bloomberg.

This past week the US PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) data was released.  There was no nasty surprise, and the S&P notched its 14th record close on Thursday and then its 15th record close on Friday.

It is also a good time to be invested in just about every market.  See illustration below:

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A positive four months.

Since November we have been providing charts and graphs in this weekly report that indicated a positive bias.  Many of these charts show what might occur when buying stocks at new all-time highs.  Past statistics are significant in showing that the positive bias has been continuing.  Remember two important things.  The market can and will go much higher than rational expectations and many investors (including the millions that hold 401k plan assets) won’t commit money until the markets have gone up for a while and they finally get sucked in from FOMO (fear of missing out). 

In the last few months, we have published chart after chart encouraging our readers to feel more confident about putting their investment capital to work in the markets.  (PLEASE go back through the archives and read the Weekly Outlooks from December 2023 to recent).  A recent chart from an early February Market Outlook is below:

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While human instinct would say to be cautious after a lengthy and profitable run, there is historical evidence suggesting that investors can confidently buy a market especially when it hits new ALL-TIME HIGHS.  See the chart below that we included in a Market Outlook about 5 weeks ago:

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And don’t forget the chart we shared with you right after Valentine’s Day:

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It has been a great run since November 2022.  To review how far we have come since the bear market of 2022, we provide the following recap:

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Clearly the past 16 months has been a positive investment period.  This bull market keeps on running and may be far from being done (as illustrated in the above charts).

The big winner from the stock markets cited above is of course TECHNOLOGY stocks.  The whole AI scenario began in earnest back in late 2022 and has driven many of the gains that we have seen in the NASDAQ.

From November 2023 to the end of February (Thursday of this past week as we experienced a once in four-year extra day of trading), here are the returns of those same stock market indices:

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Again, you will note the big winners have been the QQQ’s (technology stocks) driving plenty of the overall returns.  HOWEVER, we are beginning to see a broadening out with the past two months showing increasing NEW 52-week highs and fewer 52-week lows.

How is your portfolio doing?  We would be pleased to help you evaluate how your current portfolio is doing comparatively.  We will also be happy to compare that to our All-Weather portfolio blends.  You might be surprised how much better you could do with active management.  If you would like some information or want to discuss your current portfolio, please reach out to Rob Quinn at Rob@MarketGauge.com. Or myself, DonnG@MarketGaugePro.com.

You may be pleasantly surprised to know that we also offer a high-income blend (Trilogy) that incorporates asset management from two outside superior performing money managers.  Over the last 5 years fixed income has not produced any gains (after dividend distributions) and our blends have been well above 5% per year (and 11% last year).

The Mega-Cap Drivers, the Magnificent 7:

Most investment newsletters I have read the past 16 months, as well as TV, podcasts and internet articles discuss in detail the effect the Magnificent 7 stocks have had on the economy and the stock market:  Alphabet (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Facebook (META), Microsoft (MSFT), Nvidia and Tesla (TSLA). The Magnificent 7 had been the overall mantra for 2023.  These 7 stocks, as you are aware, were responsible for over 50% of the gains of the capitalized weighted S&P 500.  See a visualization of the Mag 7 and their respective businesses.  Provided courtesy by Jeffrey W. Huge, CMT, Chief Investment Officer of JWH Investment Partners.  www.JWHinvestment.com.

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If you have not read last week’s Market Outlook which covered in detail the Nvidia story and its ascent, please click here to be taken to that Market Outlook article from February 25.

During 2023 these 7 stocks carried much of the weight of the positive return of the S&P 500.  However, as we show below, several have recently begun to falter.  Let’s look at the returns of these individual stocks as we uncover recent weakness in a few of stocks:

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It is very clear that since November, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Nvidia have been powering this market higher.  Apple, Google and Tesla have been struggling comparatively.  Apple and Google actually appear as if they may be on the cusp of breaking down.  See charts below:

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And bonds, a place where investors over the years have kept a majority of their assets, have really been having a difficult time.  No surprise given that interest rates have stayed higher for longer and may continue to do so.  See bond chart below:

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Interestingly, there has been much written recently about the emerging positive cycle for Small-Cap stocks.  (in our view this would include Midcap as well).  Some analysts feel as if this area of the market continues to struggle, and this is not a good sign for the overall market.  Over the years, I have frequently heard that unless the soldiers (small-cap stocks) are participating along with the generals (large cap stocks), that this is not favorable for the markets.

The S&P 500 has been setting new all-time highs repeatedly for the last three months. The Russell 2000 is still 14% below its all-time high.  See chart below:

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To me, favorable small-cap performance is highly dependent on lower interest rates.  These smaller sized companies are far more likely to be affected by the cost of borrowing funds to grow their businesses.  While their earnings may be in an accelerated growth phase (certainly the ones that our small & midcap earnings growth is investing in), the cost of bank loans and debt can have a detrimental effect on these types of companies.

However, we would suggest you go back and review the index numbers above.  You will notice that while the IWM is well behind the other large cap indices since November 2022, this past month of February, small-cap stocks were the leaders.

The IWM index also outperformed this past week and closed at a 22-month high.  We have provided two charts indicating the recent upward trajectory for small-cap stocks.

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The Russell 2000 index (IWM) is gaining momentum and may soon break out from a consolidation.  If so, that would be another positive for the markets.  We suspect that this may be promulgated when interest rates start to decline and/or when the Fed begins to lower rates.  The expectation now is that this may occur as early as May or no later than late summer.  This would be jet fuel for the small-cap markets.

We invite you to reach out to us to review our Small & Midcap Earnings Growth strategy if you have not yet seen it.  It was up over 50% last year and is up over 10% year-to-date.  Given that one of the main drivers of these stocks is earnings growth coupled with MarketGauge’s proprietary Trend Strength Indicator and calendar rotation, we are optimistic that this investment strategy will continue to do well while delivering risk management.  Reach out to Rob@MarketGauge.com if you would like more information.

Some other attractive sectors you may want to watch:

Last December I went out on a limb and mentioned that there would likely be other areas of the market that could show signs of newfound strength. I listed these as Health Care, Biotechnology and Financials.  Not sure that all of 2024 will be about AI and technology stocks.

Last week I also included a chart in Market Outlook that Energy had begun to pick up steam.  Here are a few charts showing other areas of the market that you may want to get invested in.

Financial stocks are getting close to breaking out. Financial stocks are moving higher on the strength of the economy and the possibility that we will avoid a recession.   If the Fed lowers interest rates in the next few months this area will continue to climb higher.  See chart below:

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With continued strength in the economy and people driving more, oil has steadily been moving up.  Seasonally we are about to enter the Spring/Summer period when the demand for gasoline increases, which could send oil and gasoline prices higher.  See chart below:

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With inflation staying elevated and the possibility of lower interest rates later in 2024 (which should weaken the US Dollar), Gold has been trending higher recently.   See chart below:

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Looking ahead. 

Typically, February is a weak month for the stock market.  So much for that historical thesis.  Now that the S&P 500 has closed higher in both January and February, what might be in store for the markets going forward?

You may recall us showing charts that demonstrated “As Goes January, So Goes the Year” back at the beginning of February.  Here is what tends to happen after a positive January:

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Now we have a positive situation where the S&P 500 gained in BOTH January and February.  Historically what might that predict?

The next 12 months were higher an amazing 27 out of 28 times.  The final 10 months were higher 26 out of 28 times with the returns in both cases much better than the average returns.  See these incredible results below:

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The S&P 500 was up 19.9% in years that saw both January and February higher as the following chart shows.  Most analysts are not expecting 20% gains for 2024, but nobody would complain if that were to happen. 

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Finally, we want to provide you with information which could contribute to a more positive scenario for the remainder of 2024.  Remember we saw a big rally in the final two months of last year as well.  There are 14 other times that stocks were higher in November, December, January and February and ALSO for the full calendar year before (2023 returns).  The bulls kept running every single time with an average return of 21.2%.

What leads us to believe this is potentially possible is the recent upward revisions to earnings of companies not seen since the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2021.  IF (a highly likely if), the Fed lowers interest rates later in the year that will provide positive ammunition for stocks to see additional multiple expansions and higher stock prices. A Fed induced loose fiscal policy will also ignite mergers and acquisitions which will provide another tailwind for the stock market.

See the all-important historical chart showing what happens after 4 consecutive November-February monthly higher closes:

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We now turn it over to Keith and his team to cover the BIG VIEW Bullets.  If you have any comment, question or feedback about this article or any of the charts illustrated above, do not hesitate to reach out to KeithS@MarketGaugePro.com or myself, DonnG@MarketGaugePro.com.

Thank you for reading and we hope you have an enjoyable and productive week ahead.

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Risk-On

  • New all-time highs in three of the four indexes with room to run based on Bollinger Bands and our real-motion indicators. (+)
  • Volume patterns are bullish in the Nasdaq and Russel with higher accumulation days than distribution, while S&P and Dow are lagging. (+)
  • For the week, 11 of the 14 sectors were up, led by Semiconductors and Retail. (+)
  • With a bullish backdrop to the economy, energy, including clean and solar, across the board was the strongest sector, up about 6% on average. (+)
  • Market internals remain positive with new multi-year highs in the cumulative advance-decline line and McClellan Oscillator ticking up. (+)
  • 52-week new high / new low ratio are all positive, stacked and sloped. (+)
  • Sentiment readings according to 1-month vs 3-month were bullish while cash volatility moved back into a bear phase. (+)
  • Stocks above key moving averages still in gear with positive slopes, at or above the mid-point, and not showing any signs of overbought conditions. (+)
  • By Friday’s close, interest rates eased on the long-end of the yield curve, fueling the stock market rally (+)
  • Growth stocks resumed their leadership this week, although both Growth and Value hit new all-time highs (+)
  • Five out the six modern family members are in bullish phases, led by an insanely explosive move in Semiconductors. (+)
  • With the strong move in U.S. equities this week, foreign equities lost their leadership, though still climbing to new multi-year highs (+)

Neutral

  • Risk Gauges backed off to neutral due to strength in Gold and TLTs. (=)
  • DBA is stuck in a trading range but does seem poised to break out above a triple top from the last nine months (=)

Risk-Off

None this week

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Donn Goodman