Jun 172014
 
S&P500 daily at 1:55 EDT

S&P500 daily at 1:55 EDT

Intraday Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks are holding the recent breakout following a modest test of 1,925 support last week.  Volume remains light in the traditionally slow summer vacation months.

MARKET SENTIMENT
We are holding record highs in spite of negative headlines coming out of Iran and the potential for more political gridlock in DC.  With multiple days to digest these headlines, they are largely priced in and we shouldn’t expect further selling based on what we already know.  Markets crashes typically arrive with a sell first, ask questions later reaction to spooky headlines and the fact we held 1,925 support for a 4th day suggests this market is indifferent toward these concerning headlines.  Barring an unexpected deterioration in the situation, we should expect the uptrend to continue.

These headlines rattled nerves, but didn’t cause many people to hit the sell button.  Five-years into this bull market and nearly three-years since we’ve seen anything resemble market panic, investors have become very complacent.  While we all know this cannot last, in the near-term complacency is bullish because it means most owners are unwilling to sell no matter what is going on around them.  Their confidence keeps supply tight and makes this death-defying really possible.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: Higher in the near-term
Confounding the skeptics and finding support tells us there is little that will rattle this market.  While history reminds us this cannot last forever, in the near-term this “hold no matter what” attitude among stock owners keeps pushing us higher.  At this point it doesn’t seem like we will find a headline that sends owners running for the exits and instead this market will only top when we run out of optimistic buyers.

Alternate Outcome:
Markets rarely get things right the first time and this leads to over and undershooting.  Fears of Sequester and Fiscal Cliffs were clearly overblown.  This time we are largely ignoring civil war in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  Under appreciating the risks involved in these situations leaves us vulnerable to a worse than expected outcome.  The higher we go, the harder we fall.

Trading Plan:
Anyone sitting on profits should have an exit plan.  Maybe that is proactive selling into strength or it is a trailing stop, but don’t let complacency cause you to let these profits evaporate when the market rolls over.  Bears waiting for this market to crack need to be patient.  These headlines out of the Middle East were the perfect catalyst, but since the weakness already bounced back, admit defeat and wait for something bigger.

Plan you trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 11:56 am on June 17, 2014
Jun 162014
 
S&P500 daily at 3:32 EDT

S&P500 daily at 3:32 EDT

Intraday Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks are bouncing around today as they digest overseas headlines.  We are one percent from recent highs and nearly 50-points above the 50dma.  Prior resistance near 1,925 is acting as support and we are holding this technical level for a 3rd day.  Volume has been below average every day for nearly a month, but this is typical of light summer vacation trade.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Without big money’s steady hand, summer can be volatile as smaller traders have more influence.  This is especially true when the market is trying to digest worrisome headlines coming out of Iraq and a potential flare up of political discord in DC.  While we are only a few points from all-time highs, the market is anything but relaxed.

Ignore the headlines and buy the dip has been the rally call of last couple years and many are sticking to that game plan here.  Buyers showed up to defend 1,925 and so far are preventing any further selling.  Their cause is aided by confident owners unwilling to sell fearful headlines, keeping supply tight.  Last year the market jumped at the sight of its own shadow as we had temporary selloffs on headlines of sequester, fiscal cliffs, Arab spring, and taper to name a few.  This year prospects of war in Ukraine and Iraq are met with cautious optimism.

While it is encouraging to see the market hold up in the face of these headlines, the best profit opportunities come from irrational market moves.  While participants are nervous over these geopolitical headlines, no one is fearful enough to sell their stock at a discount.  After nearly two years of watching every dip bounce back to new highs has trained owners to hold no matter what.  With so few sellers, the future of this market rests on the buy side.  As long as buyers keep soaking up what little selling we have, the market will continue higher.  But every rally reaches a point where everyone who wants stock already has all they can hold and the market stalls on a lack of new money.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The longer we hold up in the face of these headlines, the less likely they will take us down.  Markets tend to roll over quickly and avoiding a precipitous drop as these headlines break means they are well on their way to being priced in.

Alternate Outcome:
Owners are demonstrating comfort with the risk/reward at these levels.  With such a little discount being offered to hold this risk, the market is telling us it doesn’t expect these events to deteriorate in any appreciable way.  That leaves buyers vulnerable to a worse than expected outcome that is clearly not priced in.

Trading Plan:
The best profit opportunities arise from emotional and irrational moves in the market.  Since no one is offering us a discount to hold this risk, there is little reason for us to own these headlines.  The same goes for shorting the market.  We had the scary headlines and the market didn’t flinch, meaning it will take something larger to crack this market.  At this point it seems we are in no-man’s land and where the market goes from here is a coin-flip.  If I were forced to pick sides, holding these levels suggests we will continue higher, but any degradation of the situation in Iraq could set of a mad rush for the exits.  With such a poor risk/reward, the best trade is to wait and see what comes next.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 1:33 pm on June 16, 2014
Jun 112014
 
S&P500 daily at 2:54 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:54 EDT

Intraday Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks slipped modestly as they consolidate near the 1,950 level.  Early weakness brought us down to the low 1,940s, but dip buyers propped up the market and are defending these levels.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Unsustainable breakouts tend to rollover quickly when follow-on buying fails to materialize.  If we continue holding 1,940 for a fourth day, that suggests buyers still see value at these levels.  Of course we need to be extra cautious during the summer’s low-volume since smaller trades have a larger impact and we often see increased volatility.

Recent strength defies the skeptics but from a sentiment POV it makes perfect sense.  We’ve transitioned from a fearful market in 2013 to a greedy one in 2014.  While this rarely ends well, these moves go higher than anyone expects before breaking down.  By itself complacency is bullish because it means most owners are unwilling to sell no matter what the headline or price action.  They refuse to sell because they are confident any dip will bounce and so far they have been proven right.  In a self-fulfilling prophecy, lack of selling keeps supply tight and makes it easy for the rally to continue.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Markets move in waves and the risk of a pullback are highest following a strong move higher.  At best we digest these gains and trade sideways, at worst we retest recent support back near 1,900.  Either way the risk/reward to initiating a new position here is stacked against us.  Give the market a couple more days before rushing in.

Alternate Outcome:
Anything can happen during summer’s light volumes.  The pain trade has clearly been higher as everyone expecting near-term weakness is either out of the market or short.  These bears and cynics are scrambling to buy a piece of this market before it gets away from them and that reactive buying keeps pushing us higher.

Trading Plan:
We trade when the odds are in our favor and buying up here is little more than chasing performance. While this move could easily run toward 2,000 over the next few weeks, the market needs to catch its breath and we will have the opportunity to buy in a few days after the risk of a pullback fades.  If we cannot hold 1,940, then things get interesting.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 12:55 pm on June 11, 2014

Holding gains

 Intraday Analysis  Comments Off
May 282014
 
S&P500 daily at 1:14 EDT

S&P500 daily at 1:14 EDT

Intraday Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks are mostly flat in midday trade following yesterday’s breakout.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Those with cash aren’t buying and those with stock aren’t selling.  Contrary to popular opinion, complacency is bullish because confident owners don’t sell and that keeps supply tight.  It only becomes a problem when we run out of buyers needed to sustain these levels.  So far this year market participants have been unwilling to chase stocks above 1,900 and we drifted sideways the first five months of the year.  Here we are again at the top of the trading range and asking ourselves if this is finally the real breakout, or yet another stall near the highs.

Last year’s relentless rally forced fund managers to buy a market they didn’t trust because they were more afraid of being left behind.  This year the market is only up 3% over the first five months and there is very little pressure on managers to chase performance.  In fact we are seeing the opposite in speculative names as everyone is trying to get them off their books.  But while tech stocks stumbled, the S&P500 and Dow are making new highs.  The biggest reason for the disconnect is few of these new issues are old or large enough to have been added to these broad indexes, so their selloffs doesn’t affect them.  But are these canaries in the coal mine and foretell doom and gloom for the rest of us?

It is easy to find bulls and bears in this market.  Depending on who you talk to, things are either great or about to implode.  The most scarce opinion is indifference toward this market.  In 2014, both bulls and bears have been wrong at every turn and the traditional summer doldrums are an unlikely place to break this logjam.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: At the upper end of an extended trading range
Buying weakness and selling strength has been the trade of the year and there are no signals this will change as we move into summer’s traditionally slow trade.  With the markets largely flat for the year, there is little pressure on managers to buy record highs and this gives them time to wait and see what happens.  Without big money getting behind this breakout, it is hard to see what else will propel us higher.

Alternate Outcome:
If this market continues rallying, that will pressure managers to chase.  While this is a more likely outcome this fall, it could happen earlier if we keep making new highs.

Trading Plan:
Buy weakness and sell strength.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 11:16 am on May 28, 2014
Apr 252014
 
S&P500 daily at 12:59 EDT

S&P500 daily at 12:59 EDT

Intraday Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sliced through 1,870 support and tumbled all the way to the low 1,760s by midday.  The market is still above the 50dma, but this level is in danger if the selling keeps up.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The media claims this weakness is due to tensions in Ukraine and disappointing earnings out of AMZN and F.  I guess that excuse is as good as any, but for all the anxiety this weakness is causing, we have only given up 20-points of a 70-point rebound.  When taken in that context, this move appears more normal and healthy than scary.

The more closely a person follows their positions, the bigger deal these gyrations appear.  For the vast majority of 401k investors, a 15-point decline doesn’t even register, but for the guy who follows tick-by-tick, this is a huge move.  If we pullback from the 5-minute chart and look at the daily, today’s “plunge” hardly shows up.  But markets function by convincing people to overreact.  Every dip feels like the start of a larger selloff because if it didn’t, no one would sell, and without selling we wouldn’t have the dip.

Sometimes markets under appreciate the risk involved.  This happened during the financial crisis when no one had a clue about the huge house of cards Wall Street built.  Is that happening with the Ukrainian crisis?  We’ve known about this unfolding event for a couple of months and the market largely brushed it off.  Was it being naive?  Are things deteriorating?   Last time we went through this, Russian troops invaded Crimea and the market actually rallied.  Now we have Russian troops amassing outside eastern Ukraine.  Is this significantly worse than last time, or is it more of the same?

If we learned anything from the first round, it’s that Europe needs Russia, and Russia needs Europe.  Most of the words exchanged are little more than political grandstanding and it is highly unlikely we’ll see meaningful sanctions put on Russian energy exports or Russia withholding energy from Europe.    The threat of a civil war is escalating, but the market’s proven time and time again over the years that revolutions and civil wars are not a big deal even when they involve oil exporting countries.

For the most part, this Ukraine story is recycled news and anyone who owns the market here either held through the Crimea crisis, or they bought during it.  Anyone afraid of these kind of headlines sold months ago.  The main thrust of this mornings weakness is to punish late dip buyers.  While it felt safe to buy after four or five up-days, today’s price action is proving otherwise.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: Rebound to the upper end of the trading range.
Today’s weakness is cathartic for the market and clearing the way for a move higher.  The fearful and pessimistic are selling to the confident and opportunistic.  The fewer weak owners we have in the market, the more likely it will rally simply because we run out of sellers.  Confident dip-buyers willing to hold through weakness makes it less likely we will encounter that weakness simply because there are fewer people willing to sell.  Tight supply almost always equals strong prices.  While this weakness could go a little further before it is done, selling off on recycled headlines is typically far more shallow than if the market was blindsided by something new and unexpected.

Alternate Outcome:
Markets go up and markets go down.  If anyone could figure out why, they would be extraordinarily rich.  Sometimes they behave as they should, other times they do the opposite of what we expect.  Last time we rallied on the takeover of Crimea, maybe this time we crash on the takeover of eastern Ukraine.  This game would be too easy if the market were predictable.

Trading Plan:
Buying on the fifth consecutive up-day, when everyone felt good, didn’t turn out to be such a good idea and selling here when everyone is freaked out probably isn’t the right move either.  The trade of the year has been buying weakness and selling strength and that pattern likely remains intact.  Maybe we haven’t found the bottom of this move yet, but it is safer to buy todays weakness than it was after a six-day rally pushed us up to 1,885.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 11:03 am on April 25, 2014