The S&P 500 just passed 1,900 for the first time ever.
This is an all-time intraday high. The previous intraday high of 1,897.28 was set on April 4.
Earlier today, we learned that the NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism jumped to its highest level since October 2007.
The NFIB also indicated that the labour market was tight and that credit conditions were loose.
It’s worth pointing out that indexes like the Dow and S&P 500 are heavily skewed toward large- and mega-cap companies. According to FBN Securities’ J.C. O’Hara, the average stock in the Russell 2000 and Nasdaq Composite, which include many small-cap companies, is down by more than 20% from its 52-week high.
However, this sell-off in popular growth names may actually be part of the economic growth story.
“We anticipate GDP growth to broaden in 2014 and this implies that growth will be less scarce in terms of companies achieving better revenue profiles,” predicted JP Morgan’s Tom Lee back in December. “Hence, investors will likely be less willing to chase traditional growth stocks and “unit growth” stories.”
You see, since the financial crisis, revenue growth prospects have broadly been pretty anemic due to uncertainty and weak economic growth. Investors seeking growth had been to turn to secular growth (that is, businesses that grow regardless of economic conditions) like the social media stocks.
But with economic prospects improving, growth has broadened. In other words, growth companies like the social media stocks aren’t the only growth plays in town. This is what Lee meant when he said that “growth will be less scarce.”
However, we can’t ignore the fact that the April retail sales report was pretty disappointing.
“Net net, consumers are down, but not out, not by a long-shot,” argued Chris Rupkey of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. “Don’t be fooled by the 0.1% rise in April. They hit the stores hard in February and March, and apparently took the month of April off. The consumer’s cupboard is stocked for now. The momentum of retail spending is enormous however and this means we should see strong growth overall in the second quarter. Retail sales in the second quarter is running 5.7% with only data for April so far. This is the fastest quarterly pace of consumer spending since way back in the first quarter of 2013.”
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