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Stock Market Shifts May Speak Volumes for Construction

Alex Carrick
Stock Market Shifts May Speak Volumes for Construction

North America’s major stock market indices generally ended May in fine fashion, but there were some changes in month-to-month performances that perhaps hold important significance for future construction activity.

Stock Market Shifts May Speak Volumes for Construction Text Graphic

May was one of those rare months when the NASDAQ index did not rush onward to establish a new all-time high. In fact, NASDAQ in the latest period was -1.5% m/m.

Nor did the Russell 2000 small-cap index make much noise. It was only +0.1% m/m.  

Instead, the leader among the indices on a month-to-month basis was the Toronto Stock Exchange, +3.3%. This is quite a departure for the TSX. It hasn’t been out front much for more than a decade.

Since 2009, NASDAQ has been driven upwards in meteoric fashion by growth in the high-tech sector. High-tech jobs are primarily office jobs. Therefore, prior to the pandemic and prior to ‘work from home’ directives, the success of NASDAQ led directly to surges in office building construction in major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Next Leading Waves of Growth

It may finally be the case, however, that investors are anticipating the next leading waves of growth will be switching back to more tradition sources.  

Over the years ahead, cyclical manufacturing will be receiving boosts from deglobalization, a more stringent ‘Buy America’ policy, observance of USMCA rules on sourcing and even a trillion-dollar or more infrastructure spending plan, provided it achieves passage.

Infrastructure projects gobble up vast arrays of building materials, including steel, cement and lumber for formwork.

Furthermore, the Biden Administration’s clear support for electrification signals a demand for copper (e.g., in distribution lines) and nickel (e.g., in electric batteries) that will kick off an old-fashioned revival in raw materials extraction.

Plus, other metals and minerals such as lithium and cobalt are finding their moments in the sun.  

New mega-sized resource projects, entailing massive construction undertakings, have been nearly absent from the scene since back in the 00s.

The Toronto Stock Exchange is known for its heavy weighting in resource sector firms. It’s no coincidence that the pickup in the TSX is corresponding with the improving outlook for commodities.

As a final note on this subject, the price of oil, both for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude, has recently zoomed (although briefly) past $70 USD per barrel after languishing for years. 

Table 1: Stock exchanges – performances of key indices – May 28, 2021
May was a rare month in which NASDAQ did not set a new all-time high. The other 3 indices all did reach new peaks in the latest month. On June 1, 2021, the TSX climbed above 20,000 for the first time in its history.
Sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Table: ConstructConnect.
Graph 1: U.S. Stock Markets − May 28, 2021
As of closing May 28 2021, NASDAQ was +44.9% year over year and 46.2% compared with its 52-week low.
Latest data points are for May 28, 2021.
Red vertical lines denote Feb 2009 major ‘troughs’ for the indices.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Reuters & Yahoo.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Other Highlights from the Tables & Graphs

From Graph 3, February 2009 marked the last major trough points for the U.S. and Canadian stock market indices.

As of May 2021’s closing values, NASDAQ was +898%, the S&P 500, +472% and the DJI, +389% compared with their bottoms of a dozen years ago. Those are truly remarkable gains.

NASDAQ has managed a nearly tenfold increase in the past dozen years. The benefits accruing to the U.S. economy from its high-tech head office strength cannot be overstated.

The present level of the TSX compared with its value in February 2009 is only +143%. No wonder Canadians look to house prices for their asset holding increases rather than share prices.  

From Table 2, the biggest year-over-year increase in index value internationally currently belongs to the Russell 2000, +62.8%. But second place goes to iShares Emerging Markets Asia, +47.3%, beating NASDAQ, +44.9%.

On a month-to-month basis on the global stage, the leader is the Shanghai Composite Index, +4.9%. Second spot belongs to the iShares Frontier 100 for Pre-emerging Markets Index, +4.2% m/m.  

Graph 2: Performances of key stock market indices during latest year
The indices stumbled in early Fall of last year, but have been mainly soaring since then.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 3: Performances of key stock market indices since 2008-09 downturn
As of May 28 2021 closing values, % increases of key stock market indices since their Feb 2009 major troughs have been:  NASDAQ +898%; S&P 500 +472%; DJI +389%; & TSX +143%.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Table 2: Key Domestic & International Stock Market Indices – May 28, 2021
The Russell 2000 led all world markets year over year with a gain of 62.8%.
‘"Ticker symbols" are in brackets. MSCI (formerly Morgan Stanley Capital International) is a leading provider of investment decision support tools, with indices as one specialty. "iShares" is a web site that specializes in "exchange traded funds", or ETFs, managed by BlackRock Investments LLC.
Data Source: ‘finance.yahoo.com’
Table: ConstructConnect.
Graph 4: Stock Market Performances: U.S. & Canada vs Rest of World
Year over Year as of Month-end Closings, May 28, 2021
Currently, stock market indices are advancing at good clips year over year in almost all corners of the world. The index with the steepest incline month to month in May was the Shanghai Composite, +4.9%.
iShares is a web site that specializes in “exchange traded funds”, or ETFs, managed by BlackRock Investments LLC.
Data Source: ‘finance.yahoo.com’
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 5: New York Stock Exchange: Dow-Jones Industrials (30)
Upon closing, May 28 2021, the DJI was +1.9% m/m and +36.0% y/y. Compared with its all-time high of 35,092 just recently reached on May 10 2021, the DJI ended the month -1.6%.
Areas of gray shading denote century’s 2 prior recessions (‘dot.com’ collapse in 2001 & Great Recession Q1 08 to Q2 09). The chart shows month-end closing figures. The latest data point is for May 28, 2021.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 6: New York Stock Exchange: Standard and Poor’s (500)
Upon closing, May 28 2021, the S&P 500 was +0.6% m/m and +38.1% y/y. Compared with its all-time high of 4,238 just recently reached on May 7 2021, the S&P 500 ended the month -0.8%.
Areas of gray shading denote century’s 2 prior recessions (‘dot.com’ collapse in 2001 & Great Recession Q1 08 to Q2 09). The chart shows month-end closing figures. The latest data point is for May 28, 2021.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 7: NASDAQ Composite Index
Upon closing, May 28 2021, NASDAQ was -1.5% m/m but +44.9% y/y. Compared with its all-time high of 14,212 just recently reached on Apr 29 2021, NASDAQ ended the month -3.3%.
Areas of gray shading denote century’s 2 prior recessions (‘dot.com’ collapse in 2001 & Great Recession Q1 08 to Q2 09). The chart shows month-end closing figures. The latest data point is for May 28, 2021.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 8: S&P/TSX Composite Index: Toronto Stock Exchange
Upon closing, May 28 2021, the TSX was +3.3% m/m and +29.9% y/y. Compared with its all-time high of 19,910 just recently reached on May 31 2021, the TSX ended the month -0.9%.
Area of gray shading denotes Canada’s earlier recession in current century (Q4 2008 to Q2 2009; no ‘dot.com’ collapse). The chart shows month-end closing figures. The latest data point is for May 28, 2021.
Data sources: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Standard and Poor’s (S & P), National Association of
Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ), Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) and Reuters.
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Please click on the following link to download the PDF version of this article:
Economy at a Glance Vol. 17, Issues 41 and 42 – What’s to Like or Not Like About February’s +379,000 U.S. Jobs Count – PDF


Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the U.S., Canadian and world construction outlooks. Mr. Carrick has been with the company since 1985. Links to his numerous articles are featured on Twitter @ConstructConnx, which has 50,000 followers.

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