Smaller companies have typically led the charge at the beginning of any recovery, and with small-capitalization stocks and exchange traded funds hitting new highs, market observers are anticipating bullish, broad market moves.

The iShares Russell 2000 (NYSEArca: IWM) has gained 10.0% over the past three months and is up 20.7% year-to-date.

“It’s bullish that the Russell 2000 has reversed its downtrend off the May 22 highs and breaking out to new highs,” Craig Johnson, technical market strategist and managing director at Piper Jaffray, said in a CNBC article. “And when we get an index as broad as the Russell 2000 breaking out to new highs, that suggests that the internals of the market is very strong and we have a lot of stocks that are participating in this move.” [Small-Cap ETFs in the Driver’s Seat]

The Russell 2000 finished above 1,000 for the first time last Friday and is now trading around 1,017. So far this year, the Russell 2000 has outperformed the S&P 500, gaining 20% compared to the S&P 500’s 16%. [ETF Chart of the Day: Small-Caps Hit Fresh All-Time High]

Market experts consider the outperformance a bullish indicator for the overall market since small-caps are believed to be a good gauge for the domestic economy.

Moreover, the rising interest rate has not made been holding back the equities rally – the Russell 2000 has gained 8.3% as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose a full 1% since early May. The benchmark yield currently hovers around 2.65%.

With rising interest rates, investors are shifting away from dividend paying stocks toward riskier equities that could generate better capital gains.

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