Apr 172014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks traded quietly ahead of the three-day weekend.  We continue holding recent gains and remain above prior support at 1,850 and the 50dma.  This bounce recovered more than half of the recent 80-point sell off and puts the market on more solid footing.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The selloff for no reason was met by the rebound for no reason.  Big moves are driven by traders changing their outlook on the future due to unexpected headlines.  Smaller moves are the result of the natural ebb and flow of supply and demand.  The recent selloff was nothing more than a modest pullback when demand dried up near 1,900.  While the selloff felt dramatic and spooked many traders, nothing happened over the last couple weeks that changed traders’ economic expectations.  Those that expected the economy to continue improving two-weeks ago still feel the same today.  We didn’t get fundamental data that made big money managers adjust their economic outlook lower and is why we bounced sooner than many predicted.

Last week’s reactionary selling wasn’t due to people thinking the economy was taking a nose dive, but because they thought the market was going to take a nosedive.  That a key piece of information technicians miss when they lump all trading activity together in a chart. Supply and demand moves are smaller and more common than fundamentally driven ones.  While many were calling for a 10 or 20% correction likes we’ve seen in years past, what these prognosticators forget is those corrections were driven by dramatic headlines that forced traders to adjust their economic outlook.  Euro Contagion and the downgrade of US debt threatened the viability of our financial system and is why those headlines lead to big selloffs.  Traders were no longer confident about what the future held.  This time around we didn’t have gut-wrenching headlines backing up this selling and is why I felt fairly confident this move would bottom while others were predicting we were falling off a cliff.  While the chart looked scary, we lacked a fundamental reason to drive confident owners out of the market.  While this weakness spooked out impulsive and reactive traders, there was little substance to rattle the nerves of more confident owners.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: There is still more upside left in this rebound, but it is unlikely to lead to a new rally leg.
Traders are breathing a sigh of relief as the emotion driven selling abates.  We will likely see more buying next week as people feel more comfortable owning this market and they chase the bounce.  While this move largely puts fears of a 20% correction behind us, the coast is not clear.  The market will likely remain in a trading range through the summer.

Alternate Outcome:
Big declines often have multiple false bottoms along the way and this weeks strength could just be a sucker’s rally.

Trading Plan:
It is a little late to buy the dip.  The best trading opportunities come from the most uncomfortable situations.  Buying after four up-days is hardly uncomfortable.  We will likely see a few down days next week that flush out the late dip-buyers and tempt the bears to go short.  While I still think there is more upside in this rebound, most of the easy money is behind us and the next couple dozen points of upside will be more bumpy.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:05 pm on April 17, 2014
Apr 152014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Analysis

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Fascinating day as we traveled well over 60-points intraday.  We surged higher at the open, collapsed near recent lows by midday, only to see us race back up to the early highs by the close.  Volume was elevated and one of the busiest days we’ve seen this month.  We finished a hair under the 50dma and just a few points from prior support near 1,850.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Did today’s trade signal a capitulation bottom?  It sure felt like it.  Early strength pushed us to the 50dma, a technical level that often acts as overhead resistance.  Bearish traders used this mark to open the floodgates and their selling sent us down 30-points.  But as just quickly as the selling started, it exhausted itself and we rallied 30-points on tight supply.  No doubt this whiplash carried most reactive traders out on a stretcher.

This volatility is cathartic as it flushed out weak traders and seduced bears to short with both hands.  All that selling clearly pressured the market, but the frenzy stalled midday when there was no one left to sell.  When we run out of sellers, supply dries up and there is nowhere to go but higher.  And this strength is likely to continue given our proximity to the 50dma and 1,850.  Modest gains Wednesday could send shorts scrambling for cover and set off a dip-buying frenzy.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: We most likely put in a bottom to this modest selloff.
The most profitable trade of 2014 has been buying weakness and selling strength.  It appears this is no different.  The best time to buy is when everyone fears we will continue lower.  Anyone expecting lower prices already sold and they were replaced by confident dip-buyers willing to own the risk.  Purging weak-hands and infusing strong-hands is the best way to turn this market around.

Alternate Outcome:
Every dip is buyable until the one that isn’t.  While I still believe we need a headline event to dramatically lower investor’s expectations of future profits and earnings, sometimes fear is all it takes to turn confident owners into panicked sellers.  Even as this volatility flushed many weak holders, without a doubt we could easily see another leg lower before this is all done.

Trading Plan:
The best trades are often the hardest to make.  Buying recent weakness was not easy and will likely turn out to be the right trade.  Shorts should consider locking in profits, or at the very least protect themselves with a trailing stop.  Dip-buyers should get ready to ride the short-squeeze higher.  Since we are in the middle of a holiday shortened week, we should expect continued volatility due to lighter than normal volume.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 11:07 pm on April 15, 2014
Apr 112014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Analysis

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sliced through any semblance of support as the selloff continues.  We fell over 80-points from the all-time highs set last Friday.  This includes breaking the 50dma Thursday and continuing lower on Friday.

MARKET SENTIMENT
It is hard for the financial press to come up with a justification for this selloff other than “profit taking”.  There are no fundamental headlines dominating trading rooms and it largely seems like people are selling for no other reason than everyone else is selling.  The high-flyers are taking it the hardest, down 20 and 30%.  Some claim the death of these mo-mo stocks signals the end of this bull run, but here is the thing, markets typically top when the hottest stocks continue higher while everything else drops back.  During the dot-com boom, brick-and-mortar companies were shunned while everyone was piling into speculative internet stocks.  Today we have the opposite.  The momentum darlings are down double digits while the broad market only slipped a few percent.  Is this the end of the bull market?  Not if we use history as a guide.

Stocks fall for only two reasons, waves of selling or lack of demand.  A rush of sell orders is the stereotypical selloff and fairly intuitive.  This is when everyone hits the sell button at the same time and that surge of supply overwhelms demand, crushing prices.  The less intuitive reason prices fall is lack of demand.  This is when most traders still believe in the market, but prices come under pressure because prospective buyers wait patiently for more attractive prices.  

Surges of buying and selling often see volume leap 30 and 40% above average, but over this 80-point slide, the most elevated volume we’ve seen was 8% above average.  That hardly qualifies as a mass exodus.  The lack of huge selling volumes suggests most owners are confidently sitting through this weakness and these price declines are largely driven by lack of demand.  This is important because it gives us insight into where we are headed next.  

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
There are two kinds of selloffs, those driven by fearful headlines and those that seem to fall for no reason at all.  This week’s selloff  lacks a fundamental catalyst and these mysterious selloffs are primarily caused by supply and demand imbalances.  All of the big selloffs people remember and fear are triggered by a fundamental catalyst that sent shivers of fear through the market.  Contagion, Default, Taper, Sequester, etc.  Confident owners need a boogeyman to shatter their confidence and turn them into sacred sellers.  So far we don’t have a boogeyman and that likely means this selloff will be more shallow since fewer owners will impulsively sell the fear mongering.

Alternate Outcome:
Sometimes we don’t figure out why a market is selling off until after it already happened.  If this market continues collapsing, the financial press will invent a reason.  While today’s selloff stalled just above 1,810, we could see a fresh round of emotional and reactive selling if we breach 1,800 next week.

Trading Plan:
The best profit opportunities are born from the most uncomfortable situations.  Buying the dip Wednesday after holding support was the easy, and wrong, trade.  Buying now that we’ve crashed through support is far more difficult.  And that is what likely makes it the right trade.  Without a fundamental driver, expect this selloff to stall soon.  Shorts should look to take profits and bold dip-buyers can take a chance.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:38 pm on April 11, 2014
Apr 072014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sold off for a second day, slicing over 50-points from Friday’s intraday highs.  We are just above the 50dma, but under 1,850 support.  Volume was elevated, but only just above average, so this move doesn’t qualify as a stampede for the exits.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Easy come, easy go.  Friday we set record highs following a respectable employment, but its been all downhill since then.  While there are no major headlines to speak of, many high-fliers are crumbling and that is dampening the mood in the rest of the market.  We haven’t seen major waves of selling indicating most owners are largely holding through the dip.  This weakness is primarily coming from the absence of demand as anyone with money was reluctant to buy all-time highs as we ran out of momentum chasers.

Typically there are two types of large selloffs.  The first is the familiar headline driven panic selling.  This is typified by overwhelming fear the market is about to crumble because some structural flaw has just been uncovered.  That doesn’t seem to be the case here since the best most people can come up to explain this weakness is “profit-taking”.  The other type of extended decline is the “stealth” selloff.  This is the one that sneaks up on us by lulling traders into complacency.  These are the declines that no one notices because they are trivial by themselves, but over time they add up.  The last-two days of weakness is many things, but stealth is not one of them.

The emotion and pain of the recent plunge sent most with a weak stomach running for cover.  Most of these are the late to the party momentum chasers and breakout buyers.  They are the ones that first showed losing trades and are the most likely to impulsively pull the plug.  Now that many of these flaky owners have jumped ship, they were replaced by more confident buyers willing to own the uncertainty and this is the start of the bottoming process.  This selloff will finally end when the supply of sellers dries up after all who were inclined to sell already sold.  Given how transfixed the market has been by the last two days, we are probably getting close to this capitulation point.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: A little more weakness before finding a bottom under the 50dma.
Short-term traders are well aware of this weakness and many sold as we undercut their stop-losses.  This autopilot selling is provided much of the downside pressure, but now that many of these traders are out of the market, that overhang has been removed.  What hurt us today cannot hurt us tomorrow.  While we likely have some traders barely holding on and slipping under the 50dma will flush this last wave out, once these stragglers sell, expect the market to run short of supply and bounce.

Alternate Outcome:
Nothing shatters confidence like losing money.  No matter how confident we are, when everyone else is rushing for the exits, it forces us to wonder if they know something we don’t.  All of us have our breaking point before we succumb to the emotional pressure and join the herd.  If the market doesn’t find a bottom shortly after breaking the 50dma, the selling will likely continue as previously confident holders start selling first and asking questions later.

Trading Plan:
The market will likely find support near the 50dma in coming days, but if it doesn’t bounce in a v-shaped rebound, it needs one last plunge lower before returning to 1,900.  Long-term traders should ignore this volatility, but short-term traders can look for an interesting entry point when the crowd is convinced we are on the verge of a dramatic plunge lower.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:34 pm on April 7, 2014
Mar 312014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Analysis

MARKET BEHAVIOR|
Stocks are just shy of all-time highs as the sideways trade continues.  Today was the last day of the quarter and volume was well under average yet again.  The market has largely traded between 1,840 and 1,885 since mid-February and Monday’s strength pushes us back into the upper half of that range.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Owners don’t want to sell and those with cash don’t want to buy.  This standoff leaves us trading sideways on low volume.  Holding these levels for several weeks gives the edge to bulls since markets tend to roll over from unsustainable levels fairly quickly.  Bears keep predicting an imminent sell off and while we might be approaching one, we need a material catalyst to kick it off, something that has so far been MIA.  To this point owners have ignored any and all bad news as they continue holding stocks and that reluctance to sell keeps supply tight, allowing this market to maintain current levels even on low demand.

While many shorts were chased out of the market in February’s rebound,  this sideways trade seduced many of them back in.  They shorted every dip to 1,840, but since many have stop-losses above recent highs near 1,885, that means many of these shorts have not been shaken out by recent volatility.  While those in cash might be reluctant to buy stock, shorts with automatic stop-losses above 1,885 will fuel a short squeeze and provide the lift needed to push us to new highs.

Whether this breakout is ultimately sustainable is in the hands of those sitting on cash.  Will they buy the breakout, or will they patiently wait for more attractive prices?  It seems like many of those that believe in this market are already in, leaving fewer left to chase a breakout higher.  Larger selloffs in recent years occurred in the low-volume summer months and sitting near all-time highs leaves us vulnerable to the inevitable bout of periodic selling.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The market is poised to hit all-time highs in coming days, but demand will likely dry up following the primarily short-squeeze driven gains.

Alternate Outcome:
The market is only up a handful of points since the start of the year and this sideways consolidation could be setting the stage for the next round of bull market gains.

Trading Plan:
As always, it comes down to timeframe.  Long-term investors can and should ignore these near-term fluctuations.  The one exception is deciding when to add new positions.  We are near all-time highs and patient, long-term investors will likely see better prices at some point over the next six-months.  There is no reason for these long-term investors to try to time the market with their existing positions, but they can hold off on making new purchases.

Intermediate investors can consider proactively locking in profits in anticipation of a pullback into the 1,750/1,850 trading range, or at the very least employ a trailing stop to protect recent profits.  More nimble traders can wait for the short-squeeze to all-time highs and short the market if it stalls shortly after.

Plan your trade; trade your plan 

 Posted by at 10:55 pm on March 31, 2014