The Reformed Brokers Josh Brown believes he has figured out what is driving the S&P 500 to new all-time highs: fear.
According to Brown, the fact that minimum volatility, high-dividend and defensive sectors are the top-performers in 2016 shows that buyers are extremely risk-averse at the moment. Brown calls these traders chicken bulls because they want to own stocks, but are avoiding the risk of momentum stocks and small caps.
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Ive read every major book about market history ever written, and Im wracking my brain to come up with another example of this, but I cant, Brown wrote.
We may be witnessing the first-ever bull market in stocks driven predominantly by fear of stocks."
Traders seem well aware that the market has been churning higher, but they are also aware of its relatively high historical valuation. However, with bond yields around the world near zero, or even in negative territory, limited investment options may be driving traders to buy U.S. stocks at a time they normally wouldn't be buying. If many stock buyers aren't particularly enthusiastic, its easy to see why buyers would be looking for the lowest-risk options.
So far this year, the iShares Select Dividend ETF (NYSE:DVY) is up 15.5 percent, while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE:SPY) is up only 5.4 percent.
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Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.
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