May 052016
 

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 10.08.52 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P500 treaded water Thursday ahead of Friday’s monthly employment report. We opened higher, but that attempted rally fizzled and we stumbled into the red by lunchtime. But the selling was just as uninspired and we rebounded back to breakeven by the close. Prices move when traders change their minds and throughout Thursday, bulls stayed stubbornly bullish while bears remained stubbornly bearish.

Recent weakness has been driven by flare-ups of the recurring Chinese/Asian slowing and sluggish domestic earnings themes. These persistent stories caused us to bump our head on 2,100 resistance last month and now that we’re 50-points lower, we are left wondering if this is a buyable dip, or the start of something far more insidious.

The thing about recycled headlines is they rarely lead to sustainable moves. When a story has been with us for six-plus months, there is plenty of time and opportunity for it to get priced in. Those that fear these events have been given more than enough incentive to bail out of their positions during last fall’s and this winter’s pullbacks. The remaining owners either chose to stick with this market despite these concerns, or even more bold, bought the dip despite them. This turnover in ownership transitioned us from a market that feared Chinese weakness, low oil prices, and lackluster earnings growth, into a core group of owners that is indifferent to these items. No matter what the headlines proclaim, if owners refuse to sell, supply remains tight and it is easy to prop up prices. While bears want to argue with the market for countless reasons, it is a losing cause if owners are not listening.

Friday’s employment report will give us insight into the market’s mood and which direction it is inclined to go. The knee jerk reaction is more vulnerable to a downside move because both “too-good” and “too-bad” will cause impulsive traders to hit the sell button. Only a “just-right” will lead to an explosive move higher without looking back. The most interesting development will be if the knee-jerk lower drops us under widely followed technical and popular stop-loss levels near 2,040 and the 50dma. If we stumble lower but then quickly recover those losses, that means we are dealing with a resolute ownership base and their reluctance to sell is keeping supply tight. Undercutting popular stop-losses and flushing out the remaining emotional owners could set up an attractive capitulation bottom and dip-buying opportunity for the adventurous. If bears cannot close the deal on Friday, stick with the bulls. On the other hand, if we stumble and cannot get back up, we’re likely headed for a retest of 2,000 support. Trade the market accordingly.

Jani

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 Posted by at 10:13 pm on May 5, 2016
May 032016
 

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 8.06.40 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P 500 continues searching for stable footing following last week’s selloff. Thursday Japan took us down. Today it was China. What’s next? Only time will tell. While no one can reliably predict headlines, lucky for us we don’t need to know the headlines to successfully trade the market.

While I was just as oblivious to the Bank of Japan’s (lack of) response to deflation as the rest of us, I recognized the market was overheated following the sharp rebound from February’s lows and setting up for a pullback. Even though I didn’t know what the headline would be, I knew one was coming that would push us lower. How? Easy, there are hundreds of data points every day. Some are bullish and others are bearish. While the financial media always has an elegant explanation for every market gyration, the truth is the market is doing what it wants to do and the justifications only come after the fact. When people want to sell, they will always find a reason to sell. When they want to buy, they will come up with an excuse to buy. The reasons matter far less than the actions.

Now that we’ve cooled off a little, the million dollar question is if it’s been enough. While it was nice to see the S&P 500 bounce off of its late-morning lows, I’m less convinced because we didn’t undercut Thursday’s intraday lows. It was a little too easy to hold the dip, meaning we haven’t reached the point of maximum pain yet. Volume was barely average, telling us not a lot of people were reacting to these headlines and price-action. To find a real capitulation, we have to send fear through the heart of the market.

The most interesting move here would be falling through 2,040 on the heaviest volume in weeks in a multi-hour selloff that undercuts most stop-losses and convinces emotional traders to jump out before things get worse. But once that wave of selling washes over the market, supply dries up and we rebound into the close. That would be our signal to buy the dip. While that is the ideal buy-setup, unfortunately the market rarely gives us exactly what we want. If we hold 2,050 for a couple more days, that is demonstrating decent support and this becomes a valid entry point. On the other hand if we crash through 2,040 and keep on going, stay away and wait for the next level of support before even contemplating a buy.

Jani

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 Posted by at 9:26 pm on May 3, 2016
Apr 282016
 

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.58.53 PMEnd of Day Update:

Japanese turmoil infected global markets Thursday after the Bank of Japan declined to enact additional stimulus to combat that country’s deflation. European markets tanked and the S&P 500 gapped half-a-percent lower at the open. But the panic was short-lived as we rebounded into the green by lunchtime. Japan hasn’t been on the market’s radar with most traders fixated on China and oil prices over the last six-month. Initially it seemed like that trend was continuing until a late selloff clipped 20-points from the S&P 500 in less than an hour, easily shoving us under the morning’s lows. Early relief quickly degraded into fear of owning stocks overnight and a stampede for the exits.

Fear of this market is well founded since events in Japan will likely get worse before they get better. Very rarely are 3.6% selloffs an isolated incident and most likely there is more pain in store for Japanese markets. The question is if U.S. investors will continue ignoring Japan’s problems, or if Thursday’s price-action shined a light on the next big thing for traders to fret over.

As I’ve been discussing on these pages for a few weeks now, we’ve come a long way from February’s lows and it is normal and natural for the market to cool off following such a hot run. This vulnerability means we need to be especially careful here. One false step could kick off a larger wave of selling that pushes us back to 2,000 support.

I don’t expect Japan to be any more of a problem than Chinese slowing or plunging energy prices, meaning this shall pass too. But between now and then we could experience a fairly dramatic dip. While it will feel terrifying, this is just the market’s normal two-steps forward, one-step back. Just when everyone is predicting the end of the world, we will bounce and resume our march to all-time highs.

The most nimble traders can move to cash or even short the market Friday if we continue trading weak. Most likely this won’t be a major selloff, but dipping another 70-points to support creates a great swing-trading opportunity. If prices stabilize and we finish strong Friday, then this is little more than indigestion and we should cover our shorts and position ourselves for a run to all-time highs above 2,130. For those with a longer-term horizon, ignore this noise. We will stumble and everyone will claim the sky is falling, but this is a great opportunity to buy your favorite stocks at a discount.

Jani

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 Posted by at 9:48 pm on April 28, 2016
Apr 212016
 

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.56.26 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P500 slipped back under 2,100 resistance two-days after closing above this level for the first time in six-months. This tepid response to the breakout tells us few are excited to buy these 2016 highs. We rallied nearly 300-points from February’s lows with nothing but modest dips along the way. While it’s been a great ride, at some point this rebound will exhaust the supply of available buyers and we will slip into a very normal and health pullback.

There is nothing to fear from a routine stepback following such a large price move. In fact we should embrace a cooling off period because the higher we go without one, the larger and more violent the inevitable pullback. Sentiment has recovered to more normal levels after reaching nearly historically bearish levels only a handful of weeks ago. StockTwits $SPY sentiment reclaimed 50% bullishness for the first time in recent memory and AAII bearish sentiment is well under historic averages. Nothing like a 300-point rebound to calm previously frayed nerves.

Not so long ago traders couldn’t make a move without first seeing what happened overnight in China. Then oil became the obsession. Three-months later and the global economy is still standing as most of these fears faded into the distance. While things could have been ugly, most often the market fears the worst and reality turns out far less bad. Nearly four-months after January’s sell off started, things don’t look so bad.

Even though the world looks less bad than many predicted, we shouldn’t rush off and buy stocks with reckless abandon. Risk is a function of height. The higher we are, the more vulnerable we are to a pullback. While we feel better about the market, this is actually the riskiest it’s been since the start of the year. The time to dive in was back when everyone was fearfully selling stocks at steep discounts and we were 200 and 300 points lower. Now that stocks are selling at full price, they are far less attractive from a risk/reward perspective. Given how far we’ve come, this is a far better place to be taking profits than adding new positions.

While every dip over the last three-months has bounced, we are not far from the one that keeps falling. It concern me that few buyers showed up after we broke through 2,100 resistance. Without new money it will be hard to keep the momentum going. Typically these things rollover fairly quickly, so if it’s going to happen, it should happen over the next couple of days. A little profit taking soon turns devolves into waves of anxious selling. If on the other hand we continue hanging out near 2,100 resistance for several days, that tells us few owners are taking profits because they are waiting for higher prices. No matter what the experts think should happen, when confident owners refuse to sell, supply gets tight and prices rally.

I’m concerned about Thursday’s inability to hold the 2,100 breakout. For those that have profits, this is a good time start thinking about locking them in. The most aggressive can look at shorting this weakness with a profit target of at least 2,060 support. Fail to bounce there and the 50/200dma and 2,000 support are in play. But if bears cannot get the ball rolling, look for the rebound to continue up to all-time highs near 2,130.

Jani

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 Posted by at 10:58 pm on April 21, 2016
Apr 192016
 

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.03.26 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P500 climbed above 2,100 for the first time in nearly six-months as oil prices rebounded and fear of a global slowdown fade into the distance. We came a long way from the fear driven selling that dominated the first couple months of the year, but like what happens all too often, following the crowd’s lead turned out to be a terrible trading strategy.

While I’ve been cautious following such a strong rebound, last week when the S&P500 failed to break down multiple times, I told readers to expect a near-term continuation of the uptrend. When the market refuses to do what it is “supposed” to do, braces yourselves for a move in the other direction. And that’s exactly what happened as we find ourselves 40-points higher.

But that was then and this is now. While we can pat ourselves on the back for riding this move up to 2,100, this morning’s price-action concerns me. We smashed through 2,100 resistance in early trade, but rather than cheer the news, traders started taking profits. This quick reversal tells us there is not a lot of demand above 2,100 and we are quickly running out of chasers.

If anyone is lucky enough to have profits, failing to hold 2,100 is a good signal to start locking-in those gains. If we cannot hold 2,100 Wednesday, this presents an interesting short entry. Weak demand and tons of air underneath us creates an attractive risk/reward that favors a countertrend trade. It’s not that I expect the market to breakdown, just recognition that we take a step-back for every two-steps forward. If we open under 2,100, use that level as a stop-loss and the 200dma and 2,000 support are interesting targets. But stay nimble since counter-trend trades are always more risky.

Jani

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 Posted by at 10:04 pm on April 19, 2016