May 2023 Market Update: Meh May

by Phil Frattali, CFA Jun 7, 2023 Financial Planning, Investment Consulting

May was a mixed month for the stock market as a whole, but the devil is in the details. Treasury yields spiked amid the debt ceiling debate. There are plenty signs of a slowing economy, but the labor market is proving resilient. These mixed signals make it difficult to determine the Fed’s next steps at their June meeting.

Seven Stocks

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% in the month of May. Otherwise, it was a down month around the rest of the world. Foreign Developed markets were down 4.1% and Emerging markets were down 1.7%. The real story of stock market performance lies within the top tech holdings of the S&P 500, the large cap stock index. There are seven stocks dominating the entire year-to-date return, predominantly driven by the market euphoria surrounding artificial intelligence, or A.I. technology. Stripping out these mega cap tech companies, the rest of the 493 companies are about flat for the year, roughly in alignment with the performance of mid cap stocks so far in 2023. The stock market seemed less concerned about the debt ceiling debates relative to the moves we saw in bond yields.

Treasury Yields

Bond prices fell during the month as yields rose on debt ceiling concerns. The 1-month rate spiked 0.93% to finish the month at 5.28%. The benefit to investors is that treasuries maturing up to a year out are now yielding over 5%. Longer maturities such as the 10-year also rose, but not to the degree of shorter-term rates. The 10-year rate is still the lowest point on the yield curve at 3.64%. This marks the 11th month in a row that the yield curve has been inverted.

Fortunately, a debt ceiling deal was struck in the final hours of May and approved on the first day of June by the Senate. Shortly after this good news, the market also saw an explosive employment growth number.

The Economy 

Non-farm payrolls came in at 339,000 in May—well above the 190,000 estimate—showing a surprising sign of labor market strength. On the flipside, unemployment ticked up slightly to 3.7% from 3.4%. The headline payroll figure may make it more likely that the Fed could continue to raise rates, despite earlier this year appearing to be ready to pause. Inflation data comes out right before the Fed’s June meeting, so that will be a key figure to watch ahead of the meeting. Stay tuned.

Stock Summary 5.23

Market Indicators 5.23



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