Wall Street spent most of Friday applying some vibrant lipstick to what was otherwise a pig of a week for investors.
A broad market rally – one that saw each of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors finish higher – wasn’t a response to any new positive catalysts. Quarterly reports were light today, with most investors flipping the earnings calendar to next week’s retail-heavy slate.
And Friday’s most noteworthy datapoint was the University of Michigan’s latest consumer sentiment index reading, which dropped from 65.2 in April to 59.1 in May – a 10-year nadir that was well lower than the 64.1 reading expected.
Sometimes the market just enjoys a relief rally.
“Following a week of heavy selling, but with inflationary pressures easing just at the margin, and the Fed still seemingly wedded to 50-basis-point hikes for each of the next two FOMC meetings, the market was poised for the kind of strong rally endemic to bear market rallies,” says Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.
He adds that given the Federal Reserve is only at the beginning of its rate-hike cycle and would like to see demand pull back further, “this rally will most likely weaken.”
Of course, even if this is just a pause before more market declines, investors don’t necessarily have to time the bottom to buy in at a decent valuation.
“This is still an attractive entry point, as we do not believe this is 1999/2000,” says Nancy Tengler, CEO and CIO of asset management firm Laffer Tengler Investments.
The buying was strongest in consumer discretionary stocks (+3.9%) such as Amazon.com (AMZN, +5.7%) and Tesla (TSLA, +5.7%), along with technology plays (+3.3%) including Nvidia (NVDA, +9.5%) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, +9.3%).
Energy (+3.4%) was also bid higher amid a big pop in oil; U.S. crude futures finished 4.1% higher to $110.49 per barrel, helping to spark new highs in gasoline futures prices.
All the major indexes put up spectacular gains Friday, though for the week, it was still losses all around: The Nasdaq Composite (+3.8% to 11,805) still finished off 2.8% for the week, the S&P 500 (+2.4% to 4,023) was down 2.4% across the five days, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.5% to 32,196) closed the week 2.1% in the red.
Other news in the stock market today:
The small-cap Russell 2000 bounced 3.1% to 1,792.Gold futures had no such luck. The yellow metal was off 0.9% to a 14-week low of $1,808.20 per ounce.
Bitcoin snapped back 5.1% to $30,034.99. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
Keep Your Guard Up Against Inflation
Inflation is prevalent virtually everywhere – including on corporate America’s earnings calls.
We’re most of the way through the first-quarter earnings season, and over the past few months, publicly traded companies keep repeating the “I” word as they discussed their most recent financial results.
FactSet used its Document Search technology to track mentions of the term “inflation” on corporate earnings calls, According to their senior earnings analyst, John Butters, of the 455 S&P 500 companies that have conducted earnings conference calls from March 15 through May 12, “377 have cited the term ‘inflation’ … which is well above the five-year average of 155.”
In fact, this is the highest overall number of S&P 500 companies citing inflation on their calls going back to at least 210. (The previous record? 356 … in the final quarter of 2021.)
It’s another signal that inflation continues to be a persistent problem – and with forecasts calling for still-high inflation to come, more active investors might do well to pack a little more protection. We’ve previously analyzed other ways to stay in front of inflation, such as stocks with pricing power and inflation-fighting funds.
Today, we look at another batch of investments that can help harness high inflation, with a focus on commodities, real estate and other areas of the market.
Kyle Woodley was long AMD, AMZN and NVDA as of this writing.