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There’s little action in the U.S. futures market again today. To find the buyers, you have to head to Asia, Europe—or to check out the crypto board.

Bitcoin, moments ago, just surpassed $46,000, up nearly 19% in the past week. Evidently, the crypto bulls don’t go on holiday. They’re trading, trading, trading.

Speaking of crypto, Coinbase reports its Q2 results after the close today. To be sure, the bulls will be tuning in for that.

In today’s essay, I look into this banner year for stocks, presenting a number of data points that put this knockout 2021 equities rally into perspective.

Let’s see what else is moving the markets.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asian indexes are in the green in afternoon trading with the Hang Seng up 0.8%.
  • SoftBank posted a sizable bottom-line miss on Tuesday as its China tech investments slump.
  • Crude is rebounding today, but there are big concerns in the oil market after the black gold fell to a two-and-a-half month low on Monday. The big worry: the Delta variant, and weaker demand in China.

Europe

  • At the start, the European bourses were as flat as a dish of panelle, the one and only Sicilian chickpea fritter, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.2% in early trading. Travel, tech and energy stocks are leading the way higher.
  • One of yesterday’s big winners was Germany’s BioNTech. Shares surged nearly 15% yesterday on news the biotech firm will begin testing a new COVID-19 vaccine formula designed to better protect against the Delta variant.
  • New global data shows Europe’s EV sales are booming. Meanwhile, U.S. EV sales have stalled.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures have been trading sideways this morning, but are off their lows. It’s August. The volumes are light, and the moves are slight.
  • Treasury yields have been gaining since Friday’s jobs report (though they’re fairly flat this morning). The U.S. 10-year is trading at 1.315%.
  • Crypto lobbyists, what are they paying you for? A push to kill a broad crypto tax provision in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill failed in the Senate yesterday, a big blow to domestic miners and software developers.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is a touch higher, trading around $1,730/ounce.
  • The dollar continues to gain ground. Yesterday, the dollar index hit a three-month high.
  • Crude is bouncing back, with Brent trades above $70/barrel.
  • Bitcoin continues its rally, trading around $46,000.

***

All-time (yawn) high

Yesterday, the S&P 500 dipped at the open, to close a whisker—0.09 percent—lower.

That snooze of a performance is fairly typical this time of year when the late-summer lull puts the markets on auto-pilot for a few weeks.

Zooming out, however, there’s lots to cheer—and lots to look forward to for the months ahead. The benchmark index is up 18 percent so far this year, grinding to record-close after record-close. In fact, the S&P is on pace—famous last words—to record its best year in roughly three decades based on this one very important measure: the number of all-time-highs reached in a calendar year.

According to Charlie Bilello, founder of Compound Capital Advisors, the S&P has already recorded 44 record closes this year, surpassing last year’s total for all-time high’s (ATHs). That tally is just 18 ATHs behind 2017, the year of the “Trump trade” markets rally.

 

The chart above is an excellent way to illustrate this decade-long markets rally we’re living in. To me, what’s so fascinating is all that white space to the left-hand side of the chart. Between 2001 and 2012, as you can see, ATHs were a rarity. Since then, we seem to hit them a few times per week.

Here’s the ATH data in table form:

There’s plenty of optimism that the 2021 tally of ATHs will surpass that of 2017. Knockout earnings have been the big catalyst behind the recent rally, and that’s attracting more and more money into the markets. The prevailing wisdom seems to be: just buy on the dip, and you can’t go wrong.

On that note, I’ll leave you with one more data point—Goldman Sachs calculates a staggering $837 billion in inflows has flooded the equities market since November 1, around the time we got the first big headlines about vaccine breakthroughs. That means investors are buying $21 billion worth of equity assets each week, or $4.2 billion each day. A big hat-tip to The Market Ear for pointing this out.

If such a level of buying volume were to continue, the S&P could very well overtake the 1995 tally of 77 ATHs.

That would be an impressive feat.

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