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Strong Breadth Surge

May 29, 2020
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On Wednesday, the S&P 500 Index closed above its 200-day moving average for the first time since March 4. While that move marks an important milestone for an index that has rebounded more than 35% from its March 23 low, we believe market internals may paint an even more promising picture for future stock returns.

Technology and growth stocks were undoubtedly the leaders during the market drop, and many of these stocks have recovered to the point of having positive year-to-date returns. Year-to-date numbers for financials and industrials have been less impressive, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been left behind in the recovery. All 11 sectors have gained more than 20% from the March lows, and every sector, except for the defensive consumer staples sector, is up at least 30%, with energy’s 59% advance leading the way. This has led to strong breadth, or market participation readings. Through Thursday’s close, 96% of the components in the S&P 500 were trading above their respective 50-day moving averages, the most since 1991.

Perhaps more importantly, as shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, these momentum surges historically have been followed by above-average forward returns. February 2019 was the last time more than 90% of the stocks in the S&P 500 traded above their 50-day moving averages, and the S&P 500 went on to post a 29% gain for the year.

View enlarged chart.

“Breadth surges like we’ve seen recently can signal short-term overbought conditions,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “But for longer-term investors, they have historically marked uptrends with lasting durability.”

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