On one side, you have the CBOE Volatility Index dropping below 15 for the first time since March with Wall Street’s “fear gauge” suggesting investors are more complacent about Europe’s never-ending debt crisis.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) fell to a new all-time low on Friday. [Stock ETFs Rise for Fifth Week; VIX Dips Below 15]
Meanwhile, sentiment remains fairly bearish and many investors don’t seem to trust the recent move higher in stocks.
No wonder investors are confused and conflicted.
The S&P 500 is nearing the 2012 high but investors appear a bit shaken by the Knight Capital Group (NYSE: KCB) glitch that led to unusual activity in many individual stocks.
“Could this be the most hated stock market rally in history? Not only do traders not like the market, the average public doesn’t believe the stock market is rallying,” writes CNBC’s Bob Pisani.
SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) is up 13.1% year-to-date. The ETF hit a high just above $141 at the start of April, and if it manages to break this level, SPY would be at its highest level since 2008.
There are signs the stock rally is boosting sentiment from depressed levels.
According to the American Association of Individual Investors, bullish investor sentiment increased to 36.47% from 30.45% in the week ended Wednesday, the highest since April, reports Steven Russolillo for The Wall Street Journal.
In contrast, bearish sentiment has dropped to 27.45% from 34.93%.
This has been the first time since May 3 that the percentage of bullish investors outweighed the bears.
Additionally, there have been four signs that point to improving sentiment:
- The euro has regained ground against the U.S. dollar. [Make or Break Time for the Euro ETF]
- The benchmark 10-year Treasury yields have increased above 1.7% from the record lows of 1.4%. [Treasury ETFs: Reverse Flight to Safety?]
- The CBOE Volatility Index has receded below 15. [Volatility ETFs: It’s Quiet Out There…Too Quiet]
- Small-cap stocks are outperforming so far this month. [Risk On: Small-Cap ETFs Leading the Way So Far in August]
SPDR S&P 500
For more information on the stock markets, visit our S&P 500 category.
Max Chen contributed to this article.
For full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.