Markets brought back the risk off mode Thursday as utilities and telecommunications were the only groups to finish in the green. The weakness however was not broad as none of the major S&P 500 groups finished off by more than 1%. The Nasdaq underperformed, weighed down by the FANG names all losing ground and the biotech/pharma names added to the pressure with stocks like BIIB ALXN SHPG all dropping Thursday. AAPL did not do much to help either. The Nasdaq made a series of lower highs and lower lows after briefly starting out in the green early on. For the most part I think the bulls are still feeling good as the tech index’s 1% fall today was healthy considering Tuesday and Wednesdays 4.5% combined advance. For the week headed into Friday it is higher by 3.4%. Volume has not been cooperative. The S&P 500 declined .5% after running 120 handles from top to bottom the last four sessions. Heading into Friday it is higher by 2.8% and on a YTD basis it is still comfortably outdoing the Nasdaq with a loss of 6.2% and the Nasdaq lower by 10.4%. I have always been a fan of watching the leaders in the group to see how they behave and their is some interesting bifurcation going on in the retail space. Former best of breed name ULTA which used to eat peer SBH for lunch, not looks wounded. The stock is looking at a third consecutive weekly drop and is now off 16% YTD. SBH seems to have flipped the script on ULTA and is now UP 12% YTD. It begs the question is the health of the consumer, who we know makes up two thirds of GDP, at risk or are they just being more selective? Has management succeeded more at SBH? Or is the economy which was once vital enough to accommodate two winners in the beauty group to sickly to reward both? (Below is how the chart was presented in last Fridays Game Plan). Regarding the charts of these two names beauty is in the eye of the beholder, pun intended.
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