As mentioned lately [Aug 25, 2011: Student Body Left, Student Body Right Trading Returns as Correlations Surpass that of Even 2009, 2010], and quite a few times during the past few years - we have seen an increasing period of correlations as the HFT + EFT, headline news driven macro world dominates. There have been some periods of relief along the way but for much of the past few years it's been a frustrating exercise in stock picking. It's either the entire student body to the left... or the right. FTAlphaville has a research note with a stunning chart, showing the 10 major industrial groups (and their ETFs) and calculates their correlation with the S&P 500. Every group is at 92% or above, with the 8 of the 10 at ~97% or above correlation with the S&P 500!!! A dramatic change from even 3 months ago. Even the foreign indexes (ETFs) are at 96% correlation as the entire globe trades as one.
Individual stock analysis has become a completely moot point at this time. Either we buy everything or sell everything each day - an incredibly frustrating experience for those who like to analyze individual companies.. (I am excluding asset classes like gold, which of course have diverged tremendously)
[click to enlarge]