Three sectors have managed gains of more than 20 percent in 2014, while two others are lagging badly.» Read More
While U.S. indexes suffer from the dog days of summer, emerging markets look to be on a tear.
Markets in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are up more than 6 percent in July.
Year to date, equity indexes in Argentina and Ukraine are significantly outperforming their peers in developed markets, with returns averaging over 45 percent.
Among the BRICS, India's Sensex leads the group with a 24 percent gain, followed by indexes in Brazil and South Africa both gaining more than 12 percent so far this year.
As global markets hit multiyear highs, will investors' appetite for risk continue to drive these markets?
The Dow shattered through the 17,000-mark Thursday for the first time ever. So far this year, however, the index has been left behind.
Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is up 7 percent, while the Dow is up 3 percent.
Although the two indexes are calculated differently—the Dow being a price-weighted index and the S&P 500 a capitalization-weighted one, the first-half divergent performance appears to be more the exception than the rule.
Historically, there have been only seven other instances when the S&P outperformed the Dow by over 4 percent going into the second half of the year.
The few times the S&P outperformed the Dow in the first half of the year, the Dow returned the favor by closing the gap, and outperforming the S&P in the second half.
In fact, if you exclude the market's devastating performance in the second half of 1931 when both indexes lost over 45 percent, the average gain for the Dow in the second half is over 6 percent compared with 2 percent for the S&P.
The 20th FIFA World Cup soccer championship is well underway in Brazil and this might score well for U.S. markets.
The World Cup, which takes place every four years has generally been positive for the markets ever since the tournament was launched in 1930.
In fact, in nine of those 19 years both the Dow and S&P saw double-digit gains. The biggest advance for the markets came in 1954 when indexes gained more than 43 percent that year.
April is the best month to be in blue chips, if history is a guide.
Since 1950, April has been the best month for the Dow, which has scored an average gain of 1.5 percent.
As for the S&P 500, it plays favorites. While April is either second or third best performer with an average 2 percent gain, the best month for the S&P historically has been December.
Investors are celebrating the second strongest five-year bull run since World War II, but remain skeptical about the future.
The S&P 500 is up 177 percent since the market low on March 9, 2009, putting the current five-year bull market as the strongest since the bull run of 1982-87, when the index rose 229 percent.
Demand for small-cap stocks is increasing relative to established large-cap names, a divergence that signals continued risk appetite among investors.
The Russell 2000 index hit a new all-time high of 1,212.82 on Tuesday for the eighth time this year, surpassing its previous high set on Feb. 28.
So far in 2014, the Russell is up 3.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.4 percent for the S&P 500 and a decline of 1.3 percent for the Dow. The Nasdaq composite is currently leading the market, up 4.3 percent.
With stocks near all-time highs, short interest reached the highest level in 20 months, but some investors are seeing the trend as a bullish sign.
Short interest increased 2.62 percent to 14.26 billion shares in the first half of February, the highest level since June 2012, according to NYSE Euronext. Similarly, short interest at the Nasdaq also showed an increase of 2 percent, rising to 7.26 billion shares.
"The increase in short interest as of mid-February is bullish as it signals that there is still a healthy degree of skepticism on the part of investors" says Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group. "We would be worried if the market saw some weakness and short interest declined."
U.S. stocks surged Monday, with the S&P 500 surpassing its Jan. 15 high on a rally led by cyclical names.
Among the winning sectors—health care, material, consumer discretionary and energy are all up better than 6.6 percent from their recent lows.
"The rally to new intraday highs still reflects, I think, an enormous faith in the Fed," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in an email.
February is historically a rocky month for stocks, but it's bound to perform even worse when January is negative.
Since 1971, when January was negative, the S&P 500 extended its losses into February 72 percent of the time, falling on average 2.4 percent. That ratio stands at 65 percent for the Dow and 57 percent for the Nasdaq.
As China welcomes the Year of the Horse, investors may want to note that historically it hasn't been the friendliest for stocks.
China's Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins Friday, marking the start of the year 4712.