Monday, October 12, 2009

Assessing Risk Appetite for Stocks

Are traders rewarding riskier assets or avoiding them? That is a key sentiment issue that cuts across markets. Within stocks, I like to see how smaller cap stocks are trading relative to larger caps. As a rule, if traders are risk-seeking, they will gravitate to the more volatile, more entrepreneurial smaller cap stocks. If traders are risk averse, they'll seek the safety of the larger caps. As we can see from the equities heat map from the excellent Barchart site, so far today the market has been rewarding smaller caps.

Interestingly, however, I'm showing a bit of *underperformance* of the Russell 2000 Index measured from the market open. Such intraday shifts can be important sentiment tells for stocks overall.