Stock market bulldozes the bears

July 23, 2009

Yowza is the word that comes to mind when looking at the major stock gauges. The DJIA has burst through 9,000 and the S&P 500, up 2.2%, at 975. Reuters is chalking it up to strong second quarter earnings and a pop in existing home sales. The pace of the rally in recent weeks, however, is starting to send signals that this may be overdone.

David Rosenberg, chief economist over at Gluskin Sheff, notes that that the pop so far in the second quarter is pricing in unrealistic economic growth.

The S&P 500 surged 15% in the second quarter and what we did was go back in the history books to see what happens to the economy the very next quarter typically after such a big bounce and the answer is … just over 3% real GDP growth. So consider that de facto what is being discounted at this time for current quarter growth — it better be a humdinger of an inventory build. Now, for the market to build on such a rapid advance in the current quarter, history again suggests that we would need to see 5½% real GDP growth, which we give near-zero odds of occurring.

The Big Picture points out, that in the Nasdaq at any rate, the gains are also being driven by very few stocks.

In the Nasdaq-100 index, for example, one stock, Apple, accounts for nearly one-fifth of the 11-percent gain. It has also pulled much more than its already hefty weight in the index. Otherwise, just nine stocks are responsible for more than half the move in the technology-laden bellwether.

While that doesn’t mean the rally can’t carry on, it’s another reason to be cautious on reading too much into the advance we’ve seen so far.

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