The choppy earnings season continues. Overnight earnings were a mixed bag. Disappointing numbers from Capital One , Seagate and Snap overnight (which hit social media stocks) were offset by amazing numbers from American Express . American Express confirmed what we all knew: Everyone is spending like crazy. The company posted record levels of revenue (up 31%!) and record card member spending (up 30%!), along with a big rebound in global travel and entertainment spending, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Heck, even corporate travel was upticking. And it wasn’t just the Baby Boomers taking vacations in France: spending by Millennial and Gen Z card members were up 48%. The Street seemed well aware these were going to be great numbers: AmEx hit a 52-week low on July 14 of $136.48; it’s up about $20 since then. Cleveland Cliffs , which is very closely tied to the automotive industry, did not report anything close to the big numbers AmEx reported (they had a small EPS miss), but their comments indicate that another key consumer item (cars) is still healthy: ” With automotive demand outpacing production for more than two years now, the consumer backlog for cars, SUVs and trucks has become enormous. As supply chain problems continue to be resolved by our automotive clients, pent-up demand for electric vehicles continues to increase, and light vehicle manufacturing catches up with demand, Cleveland-Cliffs will be the primary beneficiary among all steel companies in the United States.” This all goes to the bulls central argument: That despite ongoing problems with costs and supply chain, the consumer remains relatively healthy. Despite the choppy earnings season, you can’t deny investors are in a better mood. There’s a simple reason. Not only is the S & P 500 about 8% higher than the 52-week low on June 16, but everyone’s favorite sub-sector (growth and particularly technology) is back. Cathie Wood’s ARK fund is in the middle of a mini-Renaissance. Sectors: Growth is back (since June 16 bottom) ARK Innovation up 30% Consumer Discretionary: up 13% Tech: up 11% Comm. Services: up 9.3% Energy: down 6% It’s not just big-cap tech. Even small-cap growth is outperforming. Sectors (since June 16 bottom) S & P 500 Growth up 13% S & P Small Cap Growth up 12% S & P 500 Small Cap up 8% Low Volatility up 5% S & P 500 Value up 5% Even retail investors are in a better mood. The weekly sentiment survey from the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) shows bullishness up for the third straight week. At 29.6%, it’s still below the historic average of about 38%, but the trend is in the right direction. Bearishness, at 42.2%, is still above its historic average of about 30%, but it’s at a 7-week low. The bulls have been arguing that technology has already gone through its big selloff, and they do have a point. While the S & P declined 24% from its peak in January to its recent bottom in mid-June, the S & P Technology sector dropped 31%. Peak to trough S & P 24% S & P Technology 31% That doesn’t mean we are going to go straight back up. There’s plenty of people who think we are in that worst of all worlds, a bear market rally. That’s a story we can discuss on Monday.
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