It’s important to take a look at price, markets, and trends from different angles. Any edge we can gain in identifying opportunities is valuable. Today, we’re writing about an index that you might not be aware of, but that is very helpful in gaining insight into the current condition of the U.S. stock market: the Value Line Geometric Index (XVG). This index tracks the median move of stocks within the index using the assumption that each stock has an equal amount (for example, $1,000) invested in them. The daily average move of this index is calculated geometrically (rather than arithmetically). I don’t want to bore you with the details, but if you need more info, you can read more about the methodology here, page 4. More simply put, this index eliminates an illusion created by weighted index components. Weighted stocks within an index can pull it higher even as the majority of the stocks within the index are not following along. For example, in a weighted index like the S&P 500, it’s possible for the top 100 weighted stocks to carry the index higher while the remaining 400 stocks lose value. As an investor, it might be helpful to identify when this is happening.
We previously released research that provided a similar approach by looking at the percent of S&P 500 stocks that were above their 200 day moving average. In the same way, by looking at the Value Line Geometric Index alongside the S&P 500, we gain valuable insight into what is currently taking place in the market. Looking at the chart below, the Value Line Geometric Index is in the upper panel and the S&P 500 in the lower. Notice that the equal weighted Value Line index is struggling to break its previous highs from 1998 and 2007 while the S&P 500 has continued higher (divergence). This condition has been persistent since March, 2014. This means the market is thin: money is flowing into large cap stocks and leaving the rest behind. This is a stock picker’s market and can be a hallmark of market tops. It should be noted when looking at the chart below that this condition can persist for quite a while before there is an overall resolution to the market (aka a correction in price). In the past, a noticeable divergence developed between the equally weighted index and the weighted S&P 500 before the S&P 500 corrected in price. This doesn’t mean the S&P will correct in price right now or at all. But, it does mean that it is getting harder to find U.S. stocks that are trending up. And as long as this condition is in place, we’ll be watching the price of the S&P 500 closely. You should be too.
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