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  • US stock markets staged an impressive mid-session recovery, with the S&P 500 and Dow closing in the green.
  • The reopening trade was evident on Thursday, with small-cap and value stocks outperforming and tech and growth stocks underperforming.

US equity markets staged an impressive mid-session recovery from lows, with the S&P 500 bouncing just before its 21DMA close to 3850 and managing to close back above the 3900 level, up 0.55% on the day. The Dow did even better, gaining 0.64%, while the Nasdaq 100, although recovering from mid-session lows in line with the other indices, was unable to recover back into the green and closed the session 0.1% lower. Elsewhere, the Russell 2000 index rallied 2.3%, while the CBOE volatility index saw a substantial more than 1.0 drop to 20.17.

US stock markets saw a reversion to the “reopening” trade on Thursday, with small-cap and so-called “value” stocks (the stocks that are set to benefit the most from the easing of lockdowns, the vaccine rollouts and further government stimulus spending) outperforming whilst tech and so-called growth stocks underperforming. There were some exceptions to this, however, with Tesla gaining 1.6% and Apple 0.4%. Speaking of individual stocks, Nike was a notable underperformer, dropping more than 3.0% amid fears of a product boycott in China over the company’s recent statement airing concerns regarding Xinjiang cotton.

In terms of GICS sector performance, financials were the outperformer, gaining 1.6% on the session, aided not only by flows into value stocks but also amid a pick up in long-term US government bond yields at the long end (30-year yields rose 3.6bps on the session). Industrials also did well, nearly gaining 1.6% and material finished 1.4% higher. The information technology  and consumer discretionary sectors performed the worst, the former dropping 0.1% and the latter falling 0.3%.

Driving the day

Weekly jobless claims data was better than expected on Thursday; initial claims last week dropped to 684K from 781K versus forecasts for a drop to 730K and continued claims two weeks ago dropped to 3.87M from 4.134M versus forecasts for a drop to 4.04M. Meanwhile, the latest Q4 2020 US GDP growth estimate was revised higher to an annualised growth rate of 4.3%. The positive pre-market data was broadly ignored at the time, however.

The main event of the day was a press conference with US President Joe Biden, his first since taking office in January. The President announced a new vaccine target for his first 100 days in office of 200M jabs, after the 100M target was easily surpassed earlier in the month. Meanwhile, as expected, the President also vowed to ensure that China plays by international rules and criticised Chinese President Xi and Russian President Putin, calling them both autocrats. His comments did not have a notable market impact at the time.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel, commented that “it’s a very confused stock market, there isn’t real leadership”¦ One day cyclicals are in favor, the next day it’s tech-plus is in favor”. However, Tim noted that “on the positive side, there isn’t what I call aggressive selling”. Some analysts suspect that may change in the coming days as month/quarter-end flows come into play; a number of desks, including Bank of America and UBS, are calling for selling in the equity complex and flows into bonds.