As the S&P 500 continues to approach its former all time high, below is a long term chart of the index adjusted for CPI. While we’re not too far from the 2007 highs on a nominal basis, the index is still about 11% lower than it was in 2007 on a CPI adjusted basis and 25% lower than the all time high reached in 2000. The armchair technician in me has drawn a line to point out that we’re approaching inflation adjusted resistance.
After QE3’s announcement in mid September there was some concern that the effect of QE on the market had eroded because the S&P 500 proceeded to sell off by 5%. It could be true that QE is losing its efficacy, but it’s worth noting that true balance sheet expansion didn’t really start until mid November because of the mechanics of MBS purchases. It therefore may or may not be coincidental that MBS started to show up on the Fed’s balance sheet around the same time that the S&P 500 found a bottom.
As of today, the bull market which began in March of 2009 is 1,422 calendar days old. Over that whole period there have been nine drawdowns of greater than 5% which segment the bull market into ten periods of bull market rally.
The average bull market rally since 2009 has lasted 99 calendar days and has seen the market rise by 18.8%. By contrast our current rally, which started in mid November, is just 75 days old and has charted a 10.9% rise. If this rally were to last in line with the averages it would go on until February 22 and the S&P 500 would rise to 1608 before the next 5% pullback. Below is a chart of the full bull market broken down by periods of rally and >5% drawdown.
2013 is beginning the year with a strong dichotomy in asset class returns. While the S&P 500 is on pace to have its best January since 1997, the 10 year yield has moved higher by 20 bps. Expressed in more intuitive terms, SPY is up 5.3% year to date, while TLT is down 3%. The divergence between the two could represent some psychological pain for any investors substantially invested in bonds.
The S&P 500 is just 10 points away from reclaiming the 1500 mark, a level it first hit nearly 13 years ago in March of 2000. The overall index may be flat since then, but that’s not to say that there hasn’t been plenty of change beneath the surface.
Nearly half of the companies in the index have changed since 2000–only 269 of the same companies remain. The market cap of four of those companies have appreciated by more than 1000%, while the same number have lost more than 80% of their value.
The vast majority of market caps have moved significantly more or less than the index. In fact, there are only eight companies that are +/-3% from where they were in 2000 and 22 are +/-10%. Below is a list of companies that have remained in the S&P 500 since 2000 with the smallest change in market cap.
Circling back on a slightly ridiculous market indicator that we had been tracking here: not only was the Mayan Apocalypse averted back in December, but so was the Mayan Apocalypse Cross (which we dubbed a cross over of the 50/200 month moving average). Thanks to the rally that we’ve had since November the apocalypse cross never happened. The 50 month moving average has only crossed below the 200 month twice in the last 100 years, once at the end of the 70s bear market and once in the middle of the depression.
Speaking of moving averages, the 50 and 200 day moving averages have recently crossed for 10 year interest rates.
Last year the S&P 500 was positive for the entire year–it didn’t close in the red YTD on any single day, and so far in 2013 the streak continues. While there was little fanfare over the S&P 500’s perfectly positive year, the occurrence was actually pretty rare.
Scanning data of the S&P 500 since 1957 produced only three other years that the index started the year positive and never closed negative on a YTD basis. Below are the charts of those years: 1958, 1964, 1976 and 2012. The returns in these years were 43%, 16%, 23% and 16% respectively. An initial run of the data produced 12 years that were almost perfect, but 8 of those were lower on the first day of trading before heading higher for the rest of the year.
In recent weeks, there has been talk that part of Apple’s 23% decline may be due to the fact that capital gains taxes are likely to go up in 2013. The logic goes that since many Apple shareholders are sitting on large capital gains, they are selling to lock in a lower tax rate. If that logic were true one would expect to see similar selling in other top performing stocks, but on average other top long term holds have not seen the same decline that Apple has.
In October I posted a list of the top performing stocks since October 2007–stocks which should have large embedded capital gains liabilities. The chart below compares their performance since the election. It turns out that on average these stocks have continued to do better than the S&P 500 since November 6. This basket has outperformed the S&P by 2.8% since then.
The end of this week will bring the end of November, and with that there is the usual seasonal talk about a Santa Claus rally in the stock market. The logic goes that stocks usually rally between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but much like with Kris Kringle himself, it’s fair to ask the question: does the Santa Claus rally really exist?
Looking at the historical data, since 1957 December has been a positive month on average for equities. In the past 5 years it has been especially good–powered by a nearly 11% gain in 2008 and 4% gain in 2010. Below is the average path that the S&P 500 takes during December. It demonstrates some Christmas magic may indeed exist–the path is even strangely sleigh like…