It appears the Federal Reserve Bank's long battle against inflation is showing some progress. This week, two key inflation measures indicated inflation rose at its slowest pace since March 2021. Investors celebrated the news.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June rose a mere 0.2 percent and only 3 percent over the prior year. Both measures were a bit better than economists were forecasting. If you strip out food and gas prices, the core CPI climbed 0.2 percent month over month and 4.8 percent over last year; again, slightly better than expectations. The Producer Price Index (PPI) also saw some encouraging news. June's wholesale prices followed the CPI data lower. PPI rose 0.1 percent, less than the consensus estimate of 0.2 percent
All week, in anticipation of these expected cooler inflation numbers, market bulls were buying stocks. That gamble has paid off. The U.S. dollar dropped on the news. Bond yields also gave up recent gains.
That set up the perfect environment to rise for those sectors that have an inverse relationship with declining dollars and yields. Commodities, basic materials, and precious metals exploded higher. In another interesting turnabout, the small-cap Russell 2000 Index outpaced NASDAQ and the S&P 500 Index for the week.
As for the Magnificent Seven stocks and Nasdaq in general, prices took a back seat for once. An explanation for exactly why that should have occurred lies with a decision by the management of the NASDAQ 100. Last Friday, Nasdaq announced that the index will undergo a Special Rebalance effective before the market opens on Monday, July 24.
The intent is to reduce the concentration of heavyweight companies that now account for nearly half the weighting of the index. Microsoft, Apple, Nvidia, Amazon, and Tesla combined, account for 43.8 percent weight in the index. As part of the rebalance, that number will come down to 38.5 percent.
For portfolio managers and investment funds that track the index, it will mean selling some of the shares of these overweighted companies and increasing their share of other companies in the index. Since the announcement, the Magnificent Seven stocks have been volatile as has the index overall.
There is some speculation that the S&P 500 Index could follow suit. That would have a much more serious impact on stock prices overall because of the importance of this benchmark index. Rebalancing the S&P 500, as I understand it, would occur when the aggregate of companies, with each having a weight greater than 4.8 percent, exceeds 50 percent of the total index.
As of today, only Apple and Microsoft exceed that 4.5 percent weight. In total, these two stocks plus Amazon, Nvidia, and Tesla have a combined market value of the S&P 500 index of 22.2 percent. Fortunately, we have a long way to go before a rebalancing of that index is in the offing.
Last week, I mentioned that although the markets were stretched, I was hoping for a little more upside in the averages. That is exactly what occurred with a 100-point (2 percent) gain in the S&P 500 Index. At this point, don't be surprised if a bout of profit-taking were to occur. I am not expecting anything serious, just a pause as the market once again catches its breath.
As for me, I will be on vacation next week so do not expect my usual columns. I will be back the following week, ready to go.
Bill Schmick is the founding partner of Onota Partners, Inc., in the Berkshires. His forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold, or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.
Pittsfield.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.