May 312013
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
It was a dramatic close on Friday.  We went from flat to down 1.4% in the last three-hours with losses accelerating into the close.  It was a 2% plunge from the morning highs and reminiscent of last Wednesday’s selloff.  Volume was above average between end of the month window-dressing and stops getting triggered as the selloff picked up speed.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Buying opportunity or continuation of last week’s selloff?  You’ll get different answers depending on who you talk to.

On the surface this looks like the selloff everyone’s been talking about and waiting for, but since when does the market do what everyone expects?  Clearly price has been on the bear’s side as we slipped nearly 60-points from recent highs.  This market rallied 150-points over five-weeks and everyone knows that is too-far, too-fast, so this correction is long overdue.  Hard to argue with the logic and subsequent price-action, but I’ll try.

This was a boring, holiday-week where the market hardly moved.  Trading floors were lightly staffed going into Friday’s close as those that actually worked this week cut out early.  Why stick around when nothing is happening, you are not going to buy anything, and automatic stop-losses will cover you incase the market breaks down?  Junior traders and computers have the authority to sell when the prices cross stops, but are not allowed to initiate new or add to existing positions.  This leads to moves like today’s close where stop-losses get triggered and no one is left to buy the dip.  There was no real news to justify the afternoon selling and it was simply a structural due to a cascade of stops getting triggered.

But we don’t have to speculate for very long.  If this was simply a matter of lightly staffed trading floors and auto-pilot selling, the market will effortlessly rebound next week.  If selling continues, there is more to this and the crowd might actually be right this time.

TRADING PLAN
Expected Outcome:
No matter what people say, we are still in a bull market and the odds are better trading with the trend than against it.  A day and swing-trader can take advantage of this volatility, but take profits quickly when going against the trend.  The uptrend remains intact even if we fall to 1600 and the 50dma and a bounce anytime between here and there is buyable.  If we fail to find support and continue under 1600 then we have to reevaluate our bullish thesis.

Alternate Outcome:
Every rally comes to a painful end and this one will be no different.  It is premature to call a top, but failing to make new highs and violating key support at 1600 shows buyers are scarce and further selling is likely.

Trading Plan:
Assume the market will bounce until proven otherwise.  Shorts should be taking profits, not initiating new positions.  Any rebound is buyable with a tight stop under the bounce’s low.  1600 is the key support and failing to hold this will force us to reevaluate our outlook.

GLD daily at end of day

GLD daily at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL finished modestly in the red and is still solidly above the 50dma and $440 support.  I’m not sure how much upside there is but the stock acts like it wants to go higher in the near-term.

GLD had a poor close as the volatile trade continues.  It is not behaving like the lows are in and expect further declines in the near future.  Once upon a time gold would surge on market uncertainty, but it quickly shifted from safety to speculation and gets lumped in with every other asset dumped when people hit the panic button.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:34 pm on May 31, 2013
May 312013
 
S&P500 daily at 2:21 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:21 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
The sideways trade continues as the market bounces around break-even this morning.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The window for a panic driven crash came and went.  We had one dramatic down-day last week, but trade has been unremarkable, even boring since then.  Traders are an opinionated bunch and we all think the market is either undervalued or overvalued, that’s just how we are wired.  But reality is the market trades sideways far more often than it breaks out or breaks down.  No one wants to listen to an analyst say this will be a boring, quiet, and dull summer.  We want promises of drama and excitement.  We want horses to bet on.  But what we want and what we get are often different things.

Bears are right when they say the current rate of gains is unsustainable, but they are wrong when they claim we need to pullback from these overbought levels.  Sideways trade is another tool markets use to rest and refresh.  This is exactly what happened in March and April and it could easily happen here to0.

Don’t despair, there are plenty of ways to profit from sideways markets, we just need to use different tools.  Instead of buying breakouts and selling breakdowns, we buy weakness and sell strength.  Selling options is another effective tool for savvy and experienced derivative traders to profit from time-decay.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Staying in a tight range following the “obvious” top last Wednesday means that selloff is dead and buried.  Everyone who wanted to sell, or could be scared out of the market, sold days ago and there is very little supply left to shake out of the market.  We can still selloff, but it will take all new and unexpectedly bad news to drive that weakness.  This market already decided it no longer fears recycled headlines about QE ending or any of the other concerns constantly circulated by the financial press and bears.

Market go up, down, or sideways.  The stalled selloff shows there is little potential for greater declines, so that is the least likely outcome.  That doesn’t mean impossible, just less likely than the other two possibilities.  The recent rate of gains have been impressive and common sense tells us they cannot continue indefinitely.  Markets rally in steps and our step from 1550 to 1650 was a good one.  Another short squeeze could continue the drive higher, but the most likely outcome is the one on one is talking about, trading sideways for the remainder of the summer.

Alternate Outcome:
The longer we hold these levels, the less likely a panic driven selloff becomes.  But less likely is not the same as impossible.  The most important part of sustainable success in the markets is good defense.  No matter how we feel about the market and our positions, guarding our profits is always our top priority.  Look for a series of lower-highs and violating support to show buying is drying up and we need to get out.

Trading Plan:
Buy weakness and sell strength until the market shows it is ready for the next directional move.  The current range is 1635 to 1675 and swing-trade around these levels.  More meaningful support and resistance is 1600 and 1700.  Penetrating either of these indicates the market is ready for its next directional move.

DXJ daily at 2:20 EDT

DXJ daily at 2:20 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
Much like the rest of the market AAPL is trading sideways and consolidating.  It is encouraging to see selling take a break and buyers actually continue buying these levels.  In reality the sideway trade stretches back to January and many of the weak holders and hope left the stock over this stretch.  The real test will be breaking and holding the previous high of $465.  This will be the first higher-high since last September and will be a major development of the recovery.  Failing to do this likely means the lows are not in yet.

GLD continues its volatile trade.  Today’s selloff is giving back most of yesterday’s pop.  No doubt hedge funds are scrambling between AAPL, GLD, and now the over crowded and plunging Nikkei/Yen trade.  Hedge funds are supposed to be smart money, but their results beg to differ.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 12:22 pm on May 31, 2013
May 302013
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks settled down following last Wednesday’s massive reversal.  While we’ve witnessed intraday volatility, closes have all been within 6-points of where the selloff dumped us.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it, but the market has been stuck in a trading range between 1635 and 1675 for over two-weeks.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Stability so quickly following an alarming selloff is a big red flag for bears.  Everyone knows the market came too far, too fast and is grossly overbought, but why didn’t we continue imploding following the obvious top last?  Bears will mumble something about irrational exuberance, gullible dip-buyers, complacency, or some other bearish buzzword, but the truth is far simpler than that, the plunge abruptly ended because we ran out of sellers.

When traders expect something, they trade ahead of it.  If the crowd anticipates a pullback, they take profits and short the market, they don’t stick around and wait for floor to fall out from underneath them.  When people share a similar outlook and sell proactively, they take supply out of the market, leaving fewer to actually sell the breakdown.

Why this stability is a warning flag for bears is it shows there are no sellers left.  The few sellers left leading up to Wednesday’s reversal all bailed out in the subsequent down days   Everyone who continued holding through the obvious top or confidently bought the dip is not going to flinch at a little more weakness.  Their willingness to hold steady keeps supply tight and there is nowhere for the market to go but up.

There is nothing wrong with making an aggressive trade, but we must pull the plug when it doesn’t work as expected.  There was a strong case for a wider correction, but when it didn’t happen as expected, we have to reevaluate our assumptions.  It is okay to be wrong, it is fatal to stay wrong.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The market had the perfect setup to selloff, yet here we stand practically flat for the fifth day in a row.  This strength and stability proves the market is not willing to give everyone the selloff they are waiting and hoping for.  The rate of recent gains cannot continue indefinitely so consolidation and sideways trade here is normal and expected.

Alternate Outcome:
The best way to know the market is ready to breakdown is to see it breakdown.  Rallies always end and this one is no different.  A series of lower-highs and violating support shows buying is drying up and the inevitable pullback is taking hold.

Trading Plan:
Everyone wants to trade breakouts and breakdowns, but the truth is the most frequent move is sideways.  Recent support shows the market doesn’t want to breakdown and continued gains at the previous pace is unsustainable.  Until the market proves it is ready for the next leg higher or lower, assume we are in a trading range and buy weakness and sell strength.  Near-term levels to watch and trade are 1635 and 1675.  More significant levels signaling a potential continuation or breakdown are 1600 and 1700.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 8:56 pm on May 30, 2013
May 302013
 
S&P500 daily at 1:07 EDT

S&P500 daily at 1:07 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
The zig-zag continues as we rebound from yesterday’s selloff.

MARKET SENTIMENT
It’s becoming clear neither side has control over this market as each directional move stalls and reverses.  Markets only rise and fall when people buy and sell stocks, and people only buy or sell stocks when they change their mind.  Right now bulls are confident in their positions, bears know we are over-valued, and everyone is waiting for the market to do what they think it should.  When everyone stands around, markets trade sideways because no one is changing their mind.  To get things moving again we need to spook bulls out of their positions or make bears fear being left out of a risking market.  Will this stubborn standoff continue through summer?  Only time will tell.

All this talk of QE ending is diminishing the impact of the actual announcement and eventual money tightening.  Everyone remembers what a disaster Y2K was, right?  While we can joke about it now, it was a serious matter at the time, but the reason it was a non-event is because everyone talked about it, feared it, and ultimately prepared for it.  When everyone is adequately prepared for something, it passes without an issue.  The more people talk about and fear the ending QE, the sooner we can ignore it.  People trade their outlook and expectations.  If traders fear the end of QE, they will move out of the market and that QE driven selling will be long behind us by the time it is actually announced.  In fact it will likely lead to a sell the rumor, buy the news event.  How crazy will it be if markets rally on the ending of QE?  Crazy enough to work.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Until one side changes its mind, expect stocks to trade sideways as both bulls and bears stubbornly stick to their outlook.  The market is incapable of standing perfectly still, so expect some up and down gyrations, but this is a swing-trader’s paradise; buy weakness and sell strength.

Alternate Outcome:
No one knows what the market will do and we simply trade probabilities.  To protect ourselves we will watch for breakouts or breakdowns that show the market is ready for its next directional move.

Trading Plan:
Markets move sideways most of the time and that is what we should expect here.  We need a rest after a strong directional move and the widespread expectation of a pullback mean mutes the downside risk.  At this point, plan on buying weakness and selling strength until we make a decisive break either direction.  Lower support is back at 1600 and sticking with round numbers, expect 1700 to act as overhead resistance.  Breaking either of these levels forces us to evaluate the potential of a new directional move.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 11:08 am on May 30, 2013
May 292013
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks gave back yesterday’s gains, but stayed above recent lows at 1635.  Volume was modestly higher and greater than Tuesday’s bounce.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Last week’s obvious breakdown ended in a short-squeeze on Tuesday, that ended in a retreat back to the lows today.  In spite of all the drama and excitement, the market simply traded sideways the last two-weeks.

Both bulls and bears are beating their chest and convinced the market is clearly on their side.  While it is easy to find bulls and bears, where are the ones saying we will settle into a trading for the rest of the summer?  Why is that not a possibility people are considering, especially since the market goes sideways far more often than it goes up or down?

Everyone expects the market to breakdown after such a strong run, but people trade their outlook, meaning most of the cautious are already out of the market.  Declines in six of the last nine sessions also cleared most of the weak owners and replaced them with confident buyers willing to hold in the face of this uncertainty.  This market had every chance to break wide-open but here we stand, just 2% from all-time highs.  Between the recent selling and pervasive negative outlook, further selling seems unlikely since most have already sold.  The key to understanding the market is not found in charts, economic reports, or complex formulas, but understanding what other traders think, how they are positioned, and what moves they have available to them.   Recent selling is more bullish than bearish because it is building the next pool of buyers.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
From a pure contrarian viewpoint a trading range seems the most likely outcome because no one is talking about it, but that is not unusual.  Most traders are opinionated by nature and expect the market to move one way or the other.   Stepping higher is the next most likely outcome due to the recent wave of selling and pervasive negativity.  And finally collapsing is least likely because it is the obvious trade everyone is waiting for.

Alternate Outcome:
Markets work exclusively on supply and demand.  It makes no difference what anyone thinks or how they are positioned, if we run out of buyers there is nowhere to go but down.  The uptrend is not broken yet, but we need to watch for real signs of weakness and get out before everyone else.  Lower-highs and violating major support shows the widely expected selloff is finally upon us.

Trading Plan:
1635 is the level to watch.  As long as we hold it, the market remains buyable.  Violating this level makes us more cautious, but the more meaningful support is at 1600.  Since the market is entering a consolidation following recent gains, the best profits will come from swing-trading weakness and strength.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:19 pm on May 29, 2013