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Friday, February 23, 2024

S&P 500 Closes Above 5,000

With earnings season round two-thirds finished, firms are solidly beating expectations. Some 80% of S&P 500 firms reporting outcomes this earnings cycle have stunned to the upside, handily exceeding the 10-year common of 74%, in accordance with Bloomberg Intelligence knowledge by way of Friday morning.

Analysts are responding by lifting projections. Wall Avenue now sees fourth-quarter earnings rising 6.5% from a 12 months earlier for S&P 500 members on common — which might be one of the best since mid-2022 — and up from a meager projection of 1.2% in early January, in accordance with BI.

“The fourth-quarter earnings season has been stronger than anticipated, giving buyers confidence that the wholesome economic system may proceed driving company earnings,” mentioned Arthur Hogan at B. Riley Wealth.

Earnings Growing at Fastest Clip Since 2022 |

Nonetheless, regardless of all of the optimism, warnings a couple of stretched market preserve piling, with the S&P 500 buying and selling above “overbought” technical ranges.

“We stay cautious,” mentioned Dan Wantrobski at Janney Montgomery Scott. “On this entrance, we word narrowing of breadth, ongoing divergences in momentum, overbought circumstances in management areas, and sentiment that may strategy extremes comparatively shortly.”

Michael Hartnett at Financial institution of America Corp. says {that a} speedy rally that despatched U.S. shares on a record-setting spree is now near triggering a number of promote alerts.

The financial institution’s customized bull-and-bear indicator rose to six.8 within the week by way of Feb. 7, Hartnett wrote in a word. A studying above 8 would counsel the bullish development has run too far, flashing a contrarian sign to promote, the strategist mentioned.

“Bear positioning in 2023 was markets’ finest good friend,” Hartnett mentioned. However after buyers purchased the S&P 500 throughout final 12 months’s 24% rally, that publicity is “flipping from tailwind to headwind.”

He cautioned that “in bubbles, markets present little respect for positioning,” or for valuation. “They solely respect coverage and actual rates of interest,” he mentioned.

To Bret Kenwell at eToro, whereas shares could also be a bit overheated in the intervening time, it doesn’t imply the markets are about to go off the rails.

“Whereas it could ultimately result in some revenue taking within the brief time period, that is nonetheless a bull market. Till we see materials weak spot within the economic system, it’s arduous to get bearish on shares,” Kenwell famous.

Overbought Territory

“Regardless of some considerations about banks tightening lending requirements just lately, the U.S. economic system nonetheless appears to be like to be trying a gentle touchdown,” mentioned Don Rissmiller at Strategas. With inflation remaining tame, “Fed charge cuts are probably later in 2024,” he added.

Market-implied expectations for Fed charge cuts this 12 months continued to cost in a quarter-point transfer in June and a complete of 4 this 12 months. Subsequent week, consumer-price index knowledge for January is anticipated to indicate additional slowing, which Fed officers have mentioned is a situation for pivoting to cuts after 11 charge will increase over the previous two years.

Expectations for a heavy slate of recent company bonds focused on Monday — forward of the January CPI knowledge — was one other issue for Treasury yields to push larger Friday.

To Krishna Guha at Evercore, the U.S. CPI revisions introduced “no ugly surprises,” which ought to add to the Fed’s confidence that inflation is heading sustainably again to the two% goal — and ticking yet one more field on the street to charge cuts.

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