After two months of rangebound trading, stocks made a decisive move higher last week. In its best weekly advance since mid-February, the S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent and ended the week above its 100-day moving average for the first time since mid-March. At the sector level, the push higher enjoyed widespread participation, led by energy, financials, industrials, and tech, while only the defensive staples and utilities fell.
U.S. equities remained stuck in the same narrow trading range for the fifth straight week. The S&P 500 index suffered only a fractional loss, but it took a surge higher on Friday to salvage even that, as anxiety over trade and interest rates was set aside following the April jobs report and some soothing comments from Warren Buffet. The S&P 500 once again flirted with its 200-day moving average at 2616 in intraday trading on Thursday, but again managed to close higher. At the same time, it has failed to close above its 100-day moving average, now at 2705, since April 18, and has done so only twice since March 21.
The S&P 500 index has traded in a narrow range for the past month, fluctuating between resistance at its 100-day moving average and support at its 200-day moving average, unable to establish any clear direction. The failure of stocks to push higher can be traced to a variety of concerns, including rising interest rates, trade tensions and signs of slowing global growth. At the same time, a strong first quarter earnings season has kept stocks from falling below their longer-term trend. The net result has been directionless trading, in search of a catalyst to break the stalemate.
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