The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, which tracks how various economic data releases come in relative to expectations, is now below zero.
That means recent economic data releases have been disappointing relative to the market consensus.
Just in the past week, we’ve seen some nasty surprises – flash PMI, durable goods orders, GDP, and Chicago PMI have all come in below consensus.
Yet stocks keep moving higher, and it seems like lately “good news is bad news” (in that if the economy doesn’t strengthen, continued monetary easing from the Federal Reserve should keep markets afloat).
In a note out last night, Mike O’Rourke of JonesTrading wrote:
The US equity market has given up even the appearance of caring about economic data. Throughout Q1, as the S&P 500 garnered an impressive 10% return, high hopes were pinned on a 3.5% GDP print, then expectations retrenched to 3% before the actual print of 2.5% emerged. The chart below illustrates that the economy continues to trudge along at a 2% year over year GDP growth rate.
Not to say that a single data point like the Dallas Fed Manufacturing index merits a market move, but it is surprising when the 3rd worst print since the recession is met by another push higher in Equities. Few would describe earnings season as anything but a disappointment. Obviously, the Central Bank Benevolence trade continues to dominate the tape.
The chart below shows the Citigroup Economic Surprise Index and the S&P 500. Clearly, the two are now headed in different directions.
For those who think this market is all about the Fed, Wednesday’s FOMC release at 2 PM ET will be an important one to watch.
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