Global Macro: Consumer Staples Lead Stocks Higher

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Defensive companies led U.S. indexes higher on Monday as markets pushed to intraday record highs.

As I wrote yesterday, the push higher in equity indexes on Friday came with surprising strength. Friday saw a lot of oscillation, and the final hour brought a momentum move to the upside.

Keeping the trend on Monday, equities spiked to highs on the open, signaling a bullish follow-through. The only issue was that funds rotated away from technology stocks and toward consumer staples, a sign of anxiety.

The chart below is of Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR over SPDR S&P 500 .

The chart represents relative strength by measuring the price action of one sector versus the index as a whole. A move to the upside represents relative leadership and a downward move signals the sector is a laggard.

The price action shows that the pair has broken a strong resistance level at multi-month bottoms, and has the potential to continue to push toward yearly highs as the sector reverses relative trend.

As a testament to the sector's strength, strong option call buying took place in Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR, signaling hope for future leadership as well.

If momentum stocks begin to wane, as seen in the recent weakness of Tesla Motors , investor sentiment may be seized by the bears, which could push prices back into their channel range on the daily charts and prompt a correction lower.

The next chart is of CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust . The yen has traded in a tight range versus the U.S. dollar since the beginning of the summer.

Some of that is due to uncertainty over the future value of the dollar. U.S. monetary policy is not as transparent as investors would like, causing selling pressure for the dollar versus most currencies.

Also contributing to the tight consolidation is global equity market strength. U.S. and European equities are trading at record highs, but many see the moves as vastly overextended.

That has kept a bid in the yen even though equities continue to trade higher and the Bank of Japan remains committed to reigniting inflation.

If equities sell off due to a shift in sentiment, expect the yen to advance versus the dollar. U.S. long-dated Treasury bonds will likely be bid higher, thus decreasing interest rates and pushing the dollar lower. Japanese stimulus won't be a factor as investors look for a safe place to park funds in the face of plunging equities.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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