The charts below show the relative strength of the ten S&P 500 sectors as well as the Dow Jones Transports and the Russell 2000 relative to the S&P 500 over the last year. When the line is rising it indicates that the sector is outperforming the S&P 500, while a falling line indicates underperformance. We have also shaded each sector in red or green to indicate whether the sector has outperformed (green) or underperformed (red) the S&P 500 over the last year.
As was the case the last time we looked at sector relative strength, over the last year six sectors have outperformed the S&P 500 while four have underperformed. One shift that we have seen in the last two weeks, however, is that some of the defensive sectors have started to underperform. Look at the charts below and you will see that Consumer Staples, Health Care, Telecom Services, and Utilities have all started to roll over to varying degrees. For Consumer Staples and Utilities, both sectors are close to dipping into the red in terms of relative performance over the last year. While defensives have seen slowing momentum, sectors picking up the slack include Energy, Industrials, and Technology.
Typically, when the market is in rally mode, you often see outperformance on the part of the Transports and Small Cap Stocks. In the current leg higher, however, both indices have been lagging, and both are underperfoming the S&P 500 by a considerable margin over the last year. In the case of the Russell 2000, the index has made a modest rebound over the last few days (post Knight Trading trade glitch), but it needs to string together another week or two of outperformance before we could confidently say that small caps are participating.
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