Closing: Mega caps lead market higher to end week of mega gains

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% on this quadruple witching-options expiration Friday, as the mega-caps carried the benchmark index to its fourth straight advance. The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.1%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8%, and the Russell 2000 gained 1.0%.

There wasn’t a specific catalyst today, suggesting that the market was influenced by the following factors: positive momentum after starting the week at an oversold position, technical factors as the S&P 500 reclaimed its 50-day moving average (4433), and short-covering activity from investors caught on the wrong end of the market direction.

The mega-caps were steady leaders throughout the session, lifting the S&P 500 information technology (+2.2%), consumer discretionary (+2.2%), and communication services (+1.4%) sectors to the top of the standings. No other sectors gained at least 1.0%.

The Vanguard Mega Cap Growth ETF ( MGK 229.21, +4.95) rose 2.2%, versus a more modest 0.6% gain for the Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight ETF ( RSP 157.17, +1.00).

Conversely, the utilities sector (-0.9%) was the only sector that closed lower. FedEx ( FDX 218.91, -9.07, -4.0%) and U.S. Steel ( X 32.96, -1.59, -4.6%) were individual laggards after the former missed EPS estimates and the latter guided Q1 EPS below consensus.

The positive bias overshadowed reports indicating slow progress in ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine, an underwhelming phone conversation between President Biden and China’s President Xi, commentary from Fed officials reminding the market about the need for policy normalization, and a weaker-than-expected existing home sales report for February.

The stock market also appeared unfazed by the curve-flattening activity in the Treasury market, which signaled underlying growth concerns. The 2s10s spread narrowed by six basis points, with the 2yr yield increasing two basis points to 1.96% and the 10-yr yield decreasing four basis points to 2.15%.

The U.S. Dollar Index increased 0.2% to 98.21. WTI crude futures fell 0.4%, or $0.40, to $103.03/bbl. The CBOE Volatility Index fell 7.0% to 23.87.

Reviewing Friday’s economic data:

  • Existing home sales decreased 7.2% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.02 million ( consensus 6.20 million). Total sales in February were down 2.4% from a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from the report is that higher mortgage rates and rising prices weighed on sales in February, resulting in the slowest pace of sales in six months.
  • The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 0.3% m/m in February following a revised 0.5% decline (from -0.3%) in January.

There is no economic data scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -4.4% YTD
  • S&P 500 -6.6% YTD
  • Russell 2000 -7.1% YTD
  • Nasdaq Composite -11.2% YTD


  • Europe: DAX +0.2%, FTSE +0.3%, CAC +0.1%
  • Asia: Nikkei +0.7%, Hang Seng -0.4%, Shanghai +1.1%


  • Crude Oil -0.40 @ 103.03
  • Nat Gas -0.12 @ 4.89
  • Gold -10.50 @ 1930.90
  • Silver -0.35 @ 25.09
  • Copper +0.02 @ 4.73
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