U.S. stocks gained Tuesday as a rotation into financial shares bolstered hopes the breadth of the S&P 500’s recent rally might extend beyond technology soon.
The benchmark index rose 0.2% as a decline in Apple’s stock took the air out of a tech rally, while shares of beaten-down regional banks were higher.
The KBW Regional Bank index added 5.4% while the Russell 2000 gained 2.7%.
“It’s too early to say if this is bottom-fishing or a real bet that the most economically sensitive stocks – many of which are unprofitable … are the place to be,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.
“But the outperformance that we saw in RTY on Friday and today is very much worth watching because it could explode the narrowing breadth concerns.”
The S&P 500 is on the edge of a bull market.
However, the mood across global markets has been cautious with some questioning if markets have run up too fast on the hype for artificial intelligence.
For a second time in three days, the Russell 2000 has beat the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 by at least 2.5 percentage points.
Not since November 2020 have small-cap stocks scored frequent, big wins like this.
“It’s easy to think about tech as a proxy for equities overall,” said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede.
But “if we were to see a broader expansion of the breadth in the market, that would be confidence in the economic picture showing up.”
The World Bank said in a report Tuesday the global economy is in a precarious situation as sharp interest-rate hikes hit activity and stir vulnerabilities in lower-income countries.
Those fears have suppressed equities. But with the rate of U.S. inflation still high, traders increasingly expect the Federal Reserve will hold rates steady at its June meeting, while keeping the option for hikes later on open.
Former vice-chair Richard H. Clarida also said Tuesday it was unlikely the U.S. central bank will start cutting rates until 2024.
“I just think there are so many investors out there who are so negative,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.
Typically, stocks rise after a Fed pause, “implying that if we don’t eclipse or close above that 20% threshold [of a bull market] beforehand, that we probably would do so shortly thereafter.”
A Treasury bill auction announcement weighed on short-dated Treasuries while the 10-year note was little changed.
In commodities, oil gave up gains off news of Saudi Arabia’s supply cut, sending energy stocks including Chevron lower.
Wheat surged after Ukraine said Russian forces blew up a giant dam in the country’s south. Meanwhile, gold was little changed.
In Europe, the euro weakened and German bonds gained after the European Central Bank said euro-area consumer inflation expectations eased significantly in April.
Australia unexpectedly raised rates on Tuesday and kept the door open to further increases, sparking a rally in the country’s currency.
And in Turkey, the lira dropped for an 11th day, on track for its longest run of losses in more than a year, amid speculation of less government intervention in markets.