S&P 500: method to the madness?

recent S&P 500 performance

The S&P 500 hit a near-term low of 1101, intraday, on August 8th.  It has bounced between 1140, the close on that day, and 1230 since.

what’s going on?

I think(see my dipping a toe in the water posts from early August) that investors are adjusting to the (strong) possibility that economic growth in the developed world will be little changed in 2012 from what it was in 2011.  This contrasts with the prior belief of the consensus (and me, too) that the economic acceleration we saw in 2009 and 2010 wouldn’t peter out completely but would continue to some degree into next year.

The market has alternated between bouts of euphoria and despair–sometimes, like yesterday, both emotions in the same trading session.  On the one hand, corporate profits remain very good; on the other, Greece may default on its debts, messing up the EU, and the Fed has just begun another round of unconventional action to try to restore a stronger pulse to the US.  What the market is taking from the Fed move is that the US needs the stimulation, not that the Fed is riding to the rescue.

testing the lows today?  …probably

Given the sharp selloff in Asia and Europe as I’m writing this on the morning of the 22nd, we appear to be about to see in the US whether the closing low of 1140 will hold.

below the surface, …

Look a bit deeper into the market action, however, and a more complex pattern emerges.  You can look for others yourself, as I’ll explain below.

…big differences among individual stocks,

which means to me that most investors are not as panicky as the index movements might suggest.  This is what I see  (percentage stock price changes since August 9th through Tuesday, with the index up 4.2%):

retail is mixed, with the high end doing well

Tiffany     +15.9%

Dicks Sporting Goods     +13%

Macy     +8.3%

Wal-Mart     +4.9%

JC Penney     +2.7%

Ford     +.4%.

tech–e-commerce, Apple and takeovers

Yahoo     +25.9%

Amazon     +19.7%

E-Bay     +19.6%

AAPL (which it an all-time high two days ago)     +16.7%

Oracle     +13.5%

Intel     +9.0%

Adobe     +4.1%

IBM     +4.0%

Microsfot     +2.5%

Netflix     -43.3%

financials- -ugh!!

GE     +.3%

Bank of America     -2%

Citi     -8.7%

JP Morgan Chase     -10.9%

staples–so-so

P&G     +6.3%

Coca Cola     +1.8%

Pepsi     -3.5%

casinos–high-quality/debt under control

Las Vegas Sands     +29.2%

Wynn     +16%

MGM     -6.3%

no joy in Macau, despite blowout revenue growth

China Sands     -2.8%

Wynn Macau     -6.2%

SJM     -14.7%

MGM China    -15.1%

other random stocks

Catipillar     -3.9%

Exxon Mobil     +2.5%

Intercontinental Hotels     +1.7%

doing this for you portfolio

It’s a worthwhile procedure to do  regularly.

Go to Google Finance and call up a chart for the S&P 500.  The symbol is .inx.  (I normally prefer Yahoo Finance charts, but this is one instance where Google works better.)

Enter a stock symbol into the Compare box just above the chart and hit the Add button.  The chart parameters will change; you’ll see absolute performance numbers for both the S&P and your stock appear.

For checking performance since August 9th, select a 3mo view from the Zoom choices at the top of the chart..

Move the left-hand side of the bar that’s directly under the chart to the right until the chart shrinks to the time period you want.

Type in more symbols.  You’ll see their absolute performances (on a capital changes basis, not that it matters so much) displayed in different colors.

Good luck.

Good or bad, you’ll at least know how your stocks are doing.

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