The energy sector has certainly been on a wild ride over the course of the past year, perhaps the wildest of all of the S&P 500 sectors. The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 caused such a demand shock that oil futures traded for a negative value for the first time in history, implying that someone would pay you to take delivery of their oil!
Well, that’s in the rear-view mirror for the energy market now. Year to date, the S&P 500 energy sector is up over 29% as of March 2, according to data from FactSet, more than double the return of the financial sector, the second strongest sector thus far in 2021. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the S&P 500 energy sector is trading at a blistering 30% above its 200-day moving average, the most ever using data back to 1990. While this might seem bearish on the surface, previous surges above 20% have historically bought above average returns over the next year rather than below average.
“The case can be made that energy could be a bit stretched in the near-term, but momentum often breeds more momentum,” added LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Energy has been unloved for quite some time, but we may be in the early innings of a larger rally for the energy sector as the global economy continues to improve.”
A confluence of events may be spurring the boom in the energy sector. An expanding global economy, a historic winter storm that shut down major oil producing states like Texas and Oklahoma, and an output agreement from members of OPEC+ have sent oil prices soaring to their highest level since early 2019. It’s not just oil, either. Copper and lumber have surged past their 2019 highs as well. It’s no secret that inflation expectations have been on the rise, and the surge in commodity prices are likely adding further credence to the market’s view of higher inflation.
We have continued to warm up to the energy sector, including upgrading our view on oil in January and then our upgrade from negative to neutral in our February Global Portfolio Strategy publication.
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