What a comeback! After being threatened by its big brothers, small cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 index, have surpassed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index practically this week, further highlighting a shift in investor play that has played out over the course of the recent sessions.
Russell 2000 Index
RUT, + 2.12%
has reached 4.6% so far this week and was on pace to make gains of at least 1% in three consecutive sessions, marking the first time it did since January 201
To put a finer point on the small-cap ascent, Russell's weekly gain, representing a 3.81 percentage point spread between the run-up so far this week and the S&P 500
SPX, + 0.72% ,
would mark the widest underperformance margin between the major equity index and Russell on a weekly basis since the period ended November 11, 2016.
Read : MarketWatch's snapshot of the market
Russell's weekly gain also has the index on its way best outing in about three years against Dow
DJIA, + 0.85% ,
which holds the benchmark benchmark weekly by 3.35 percentage points, and the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, + 1.06% ,
which followed Russell with 3.76 percentage points this week.
The surge has been recent as this 30-day FactSet chart illustrates, showing Russell in the dark blue and the Dow in green and the S&P 500 in pink:  Russell's recent progress has pushed it to date against the Dow, with the small-cap index up 16.44%, compared to a gain of 15.89% for the blue-chip benchmark portfolio from Wednesday afternoon trading. However, the Russell index behind so far this year remains benchmark for the S&P 500 benchmark, up 19.34% and Nasdaq, and returned 22.75% so far in 2019.
Looking closer at the small-cap index shows that it remains more than 10% removed from the climax of August 31, 2018. Russel has largely been the whipping saga of the past year, sometimes, wave ahead of its big cap peers and fell badly behind other times as investors weathered the impact of a sustained US China trade shock and the possible damage that could be caused by a recession in the United States.
However, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, have already registered new records this year and are at least within 2% of the setting for fresh historical peaks.
Around the face of small-caps this time comes as Wall Street strategists have highlighted a recent shift, characterized by investors turning from defensive stocks and momentum to cyclical and small caps in a move that could signify all confidence in future financials growth.
So-called momentum strategies seek investments that have outperformed and are therefore considered to be the most likely to continue to deliver large-scale returns. Momentum efforts have turned value investment strategies, which focus on stocks that are undervalued by a certain target over the past decade. However, momentum hangs badly after small-caps, and those games were considered valuable in the past.
In fact, a popular exchange traded fund, iShares Edge MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF
MTUM, + 0.44% ,
has climbed 19.14% so far in 2019, but is down 2.91% this week and down 0.6% over the past 30 days, while the popular value product Vanguard Value ETF
VTV, + 0.76%
has received 1.8% for the week and 3.2% this month.
Technical analyst Jeff deGraaf said in a research note Wednesday that a shift to momentum investment may have been "overstated" and has therefore lent itself to a shift to other market areas: "All this because momentum was owned and forced into these other the factors, whether accidental or intentional, "he wrote.
DeGraaf, the Renaissance macro research strategist, states that the market has largely been concerned with whether concerns about an economic downturn have been overbought, but suggests that data have not necessarily supported the current bullish backdrop that momentum stocks had progressed.
"We call this & # 39; incredible progress & # 39 ;, the point where the market message is more powerful than headlines or consensus, "he wrote.
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