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Wednesday
Jan302013

Consumer Discretionary Back to Leading Consumer Staples

One way to gauge the performance of cyclicals versus non-cyclicals is to look at the ratio between the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary and Consumer Staples sectors.  In the chart below, when the line is rising, Consumer Discretionary is outperforming Consumer Staples, and when the line is falling, Consumer Staples is outperforming Consumer Discretionary.  Since 1990, the ratio has hovered around one, but we've seen it get as low as 0.59 and as high as 1.78.

The ratio has been increasing since the lows of the financial crisis as Consumer Discretionary has outperformed Consumer Staples, but the ratio just recently broke out and is now solidly above one.  During the late 1990s and the 2003-2007 bull market, the ratio was solidly above one for long periods of time.  It will be interesting to see if Consumer Discretionary can continue to outperform as it has done over the past four years, which would move the ratio up to the normal levels seen in prior bull markets.