Market Recap - Fireworks For The Bulls

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It was an abbreviated week of trading due to the Fourth of July holiday, yet there were plenty of fireworks for the bulls who enjoyed a winning week for the major indices.

The bullish bias was remarkable in that concerns about protectionist trade measures were discussed throughout the week.  Those concerns did not derail the stock market, yet they did not go unnoticed.

Some of this week's best-performing sectors were the defensive-oriented health care (+3.1%), utilities (+2.4%), and telecom services (+2.2%) sectors. Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark 10-yr note dropped three basis points to 2.82%, which gave a lift to the real estate sector (+1.8%).

By and large, though, it was a risk-on week in the stock market, which moved up on the back of gains in every sector but the energy sector (-0.3%).

The latter moved in tandem with oil prices, which dropped 0.5% to $73.77/bbl, pressured by a bearish inventory report from the Department of Energy and assumptions that Saudi Arabia will tap into its spare capacity to maintain stability in the oil market.

The information technology sector (+2.3%), supported by the usual mega-cap suspects, was a standout yet again, bringing its year-to-date gain to 12.7%.  Facebook (FB) for its part increased 4.6% for the week, with the entirety of its gain coming over the last two trading sessions.

Those last two trading sessions were governed by insouciant trading behavior, as the major indices advanced resolutely in the face of the FOMC Minutes highlighting how business contacts in some districts were scaling back, or postponing, capital spending plans as a result of the uncertainty over trade policy and the U.S. and China pressing ahead with the implementation of tariffs on $34 billion worth of imported goods from each other.

There was no uncertainty on Friday following the release of the June employment report.  Market participants seemingly rejoiced in the understanding that the report once again had a Goldilocks hue to it, featuring solid nonfarm payrolls growth (+213,000) and a subdued 2.7% year-over-year gain in average hourly earnings that kept inflation worries, and aggressive rate-hike worries, at bay.

That economic report overshadowed the gloomy trade developments, which also included a contention by President Trump that the U.S. could possibly levy tariffs on more than $500 billion of Chinese goods if necessary.   The stock market made note of the remark, yet it was not unnerved by it.

The US. Dollar Index settled the week 0.7% lower at 94.01 while the CBOE Volatility Index plunged 16.9% to 13.37, underscoring a lack of hedging interest to protect for near-term downside risk.  The entirety of the decline in the CBOE Volatility Index came over the last two trading days of the shortened week.

Not surprisingly, trading volume was on the light side this week as many participants took vacation.

  • Nasdaq Composite +11.4% YTD
  • Russell 2000 +10.3% YTD
  • S&P 500 +3.2% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -1.1% YTD