The Baltic Dry Index is currently riding an eleven-day winning streak during which the index has gained 43%. Year to date, the index is now up 228%. Given that it is a measure of shipping rates, the increase in the Baltic Dry Index is regarded by many as an important indicator of an improving global economy. How this translates to the stock market, however, is unclear.
Over the long term (since 1985), the Baltic Dry Index and the S&P 500 have had a positive correlation of 0.5 (1 = perfect correlation, -1 = perfect inverse correlation). Like everything else recently, though, that relationship has been turned completely upside down. As shown in the chart below, the S&P 500 and the Baltic Dry Index have been moving in opposite directions for most of 2009. As one has risen, the other has declined, and when one falls, the other seems to rise. Looking at the correlation between the two shows that year to date, they have had a negative correlation of -0.4, which implies a significant inverse relationship between the two. In fact, the only period this year where the Baltic Dry Index declined was during the initial month of this rally, which was one of the strongest one-month rallies the S&P 500 ever had!