On February 5, 2024, the yield spread between the Baa corporate bond and the 10-year Treasury bond sat at 157 bps—just 9 bps wider than the narrowest level seen since 2000.

In this note, we explore the usefulness of credit spreads as a business cycle indicator, and highlight the historical performance of equity indices and sectors as spreads widen from extremely tight troughs.

Given that equity volatility often accompanies the widening of spreads from historically low levels, we believe equity investors would be wise to keep aggregate portfolio risk, beta and cyclicality in line with, or lower than, the benchmark.