With the US stock market continuing to grind out new highs, some commentators have cast doubt on the usefulness of so-called macroeconomic surprise indices as a tool for predicting the market. To add weight to the argument, these commentators even include the proprietary holders and creators of the indices, Citigroup.

We would certainly agree that looking at any one tool will always give false signals and lead to poor predictions. The ongoing divergence between a negative macroeconomic surprise index and a rising 3 month change in the S&P 500 is not a good short term sign for the stock market.

economic surprises in the US

Past periods where the US macroeconomic surprise index has turned negative in the face of a rising market have not been conducive for strong returns. One such example is of course the spring of 2010.