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Weekly Market Brief: November 27, 2023

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Week in Review

Another week, another big gain for stocks. That’s the fourth consecutive weekly gain of at least 1% for the S&P 500 and the second-highest weekly close since January of 2022. The NASDAQ Composite is now up 36% for the year, leading the major indexes. Gold prices rallied more than 1%, too, the fifth time in the last seven weeks that the yellow metal has gained at least that much. Crude oil, meanwhile, fell for the fifth straight week.

Much like it has all year, fear of imminent recession still permeates the investment landscape. There are plenty of reasons to be wary of an economic downturn, including a softening labor market, weakening consumer confidence, a manufacturing slowdown, and geopolitical uncertainties, to name a few. One thing not pointing to a recession is credit spreads. The interest rate premium that lenders require from riskier borrowers should rise as the economy weakens, since the probability of default rises during a recession. We’re not seeing that today, though. Instead, corporate credit spreads just hit their lowest level in a year-and-a-half.

Relatively Speaking

Only one S&P 500 sector fell over the last month, a 3.8% drop in the price of Energy stocks. Every other sector finished in the green, paced by an 11% gain for the Information Technology sector and 10% gains for both Real Estate and Consumer Discretionary. Risk-off sectors like Health Care, Consumer Staples, and Utilities all lagged the benchmark index.

Growth sectors are still in the pole position year-to-date, with Communication Services (+50.7%), Information Technology (50.4%), and Consumer Discretionary 32.7%) each on pace for banner performances. The gains aren't widespread, though. Investing in any other sector has yielded a return for the year that’s well below the S&P 500's 18.8% gain.

What's Ahead

Here are the key data releases and events to keep on eye on in the coming days.