The S&P 500 broke out to a new all-time high Monday but didn't manage to finish the day above its 1/15 all-time closing high. Nevertheless, the index is pretty much right back where it was on January 15th after experiencing a fall of nearly 6% and a subsequent rally of 6% in between.
Below is a look at sector performance during the market's recent "round trip" since the close on 1/15. As shown, the overall market is flat with the S&P 500 down just 4 basis points, but there have been clear winners and losers underneath the surface. Interestingly, the two smallest sectors of the market -- Telecom and Utilities -- are on opposite ends of the chart, with Utilities up the most at 6.44% and Telecom down the most at -3.36%. Keep in mind, though, that the moves in these two sectors have very little impact on the S&P given their extremely low weightings in the index.
Of the sectors that do have an impact on the index as a whole, Health Care, Energy and Technology are higher now than they were on 1/15 when the market made its last closing high. Financials, Consumer Staples, Industrials and Consumer Discretionary, on the other hand, are all lower, and their underperformance is what has held the market back. These sectors have all bounced off of their early February lows, but they still haven't gained back all of their losses from the 1/15 to 2/3 pullback. Now that we're right back to prior highs, will the leaders (Health Care, Energy, Technology) continue to lead, or will investors move money out of recent winners and into the laggards?
As shown in the second chart below, breadth levels are elevated for the areas of the market that have outperformed, and they're just above the 50/50 mark for the lagging sectors. If you're looking to put money to work but don't want to chase overbought names, there are plenty of stocks still trading just above their 50-days in cyclical sectors like Industrials, Financials and Consumer Discretionary.