Aug 112014
 
S&P500 daily

S&P500 daily

End of Day Update:

There was a little something for everyone today.  For bulls, this was another relief rally, adding 0.3% to Friday’s bounce.  For bears, we finished near the lows of the day as a lack of follow-on buying failed to fuel further gains.  While we finished near the upper end of the recent 1,910/1,940 consolidation, an early attempt to break 1,950 was rebuffed.  Ultimately few were motivated to trade today’s rebound and volume came in at the lowest level in several weeks.

The question on everyone’s mind, is the worst behind us, or is this just a bull trap before continuing lower?  If we use history as a guide, the last couple of times the market broke down, it temporarily found support before plunging one last time.  See the accompanying chart.  January 30th we traded to the upper end of a consolidation, but stumbled into a 60-point sell off two-days later.  Same thing happened to April 9th’s rebound, two-days later we were down 55-points.  The bullish takeaway from both plunges is they formed powerful capitulation bottoms that were excellent buying opportunities.

While some fear is dissipating as Western forces gain the upper hand in Iraq and Ukraine, markets remain on edge.  Another bad headline could send traders running for cover yet again.  But rather than fear the volatility, we should embrace it because one man’s panic is another man’s gain.

If I am right:
If buyers cannot push the market above 1,950, then we need to be wary of one last selloff.

If I am wrong:
If buyers shrug off further fearful headlines and continue bidding up prices, holding above 1,950 and the 50dma will signal the worst is already behind us.

Trading Plan:
As long as we remain inside the 1,910/1,940 consolidation, we are in no-man’s land and the market could break either way.  I would be reluctant to buy until the market proves the worst is behind us by reclaiming the 50dma.  If the market stumbles in coming days, that creates an interesting, but very brief shorting opportunity.

Jani

 Posted by at 10:27 pm on August 11, 2014
Aug 072014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

Market Analysis:
Even with the wind at their back, bulls could not get it done and early strength faded into yet another down-day. It doesn’t matter what the financial press attributes this weakness to because we know the truth, no one wants to buy this market.

Every day the market is flooded with hundreds of pieces of news and data. Some of it is bearish, some of it is bullish, and most of it is irrelevant. But in the short-term, none of it matters because most traders simply look for an excuse to justify their preconceived bias. If they are bullish, they will find plenty of reasons to buy. A bear will find countless number of reasons to dump his stock. Allegedly the market sold off on a slight variation of Russian and European news that’s been making the rounds for months. Who cares why the market sold off, the only thing that matters is what people are thinking and how they are positioned.

We are still in a long-term secular bull market and this is just another buyable dip on our way to record highs, but we need to exercise restraint in the near-term. The inability to escape the lower reaches of this trading range proves we are not yet oversold. We all know the market always overdose it, so we need to wait until it reaches those extreme oversold levels before calling a bottom. While some use complicated mathematical formulas to calculate overbought and oversold levels, the only thing that matters is what the market thinks. We’ll know when we’ve gone too far because, it will snap back with decisive speed and ferocity. Groping for a bottom for five days is anything but ferocious.

If I am right:
Watch out for another leg down. This slow motion crash isn’t enough to shake free those hanging on by their fingertips.  We need something more spectacular to send the last of the holdouts scurrying for cover. Breaking under 1,900 support will trigger an avalanche of technical stop-loss orders and the swiftness of that automatic selling will convince others to join in the dash for the exits.  But rather than cascade into the collapse everyone fears, this will be the dying gasp of this correction before we capitulate and bounce higher.

If I am wrong:
The longer we hold near the lows, the more likely it is we will crash through support, but there is a chance this slow motion selloff is convincing enough fearful owners to sell to more confident dip-buyers.  If we churn over an extended period of time, we might not have enough fearful owners left to trigger another emotional selloff.  This is a much more ambiguous bottom and it is impossible to pick a nearby point where it would be clear I was wrong.  I wouldn’t trust this sideways consolidation unless it stretches on for a few more weeks or finally holds above 1,950.

Trading Plan:
The longer we hold near the lows, the more likely it is we’ll see another leg lower.  Shorts can hold on for another leg lower and dip-buyers need to keep their powder dry until we have that capitulation bottom.  Longer-term investors can ride this out, but they should wait a few days before adding to their favorite positions.

Jani

 Posted by at 9:13 pm on August 7, 2014
Aug 062014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
A long way to nowhere as the market opened lower, then broke into the green, before ultimately finishing flat.

MARKET SENTIMENT
While we held 1,920 support, the market had a hard time finding dip-buyers willing to chase prices higher.  Most often capitulation bottoms are violent whipsaws with decisive rebounds.  Treading water at this level is anything but decisive and shows we haven’t reached such extreme oversold levels that the market couldn’t help but snap back.

While we could be forming a rounded base, there is far too much emotion in the market for such a boring move.  Every day we fail to escape this gravity is one more day where late-to-the-party dip-buyers work up the nerve to buy support.  But the more of these guys that get in, the greater the risk of crashing through support as we undercut all the automatic stop-losses forming under our feet.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
This is nothing more than another buyable dip in a secular bull market, but given the market’s inability to bounce shows we have not reached extreme oversold levels yet.  This means we likely have another whoosh lower when the market undercuts all the stop-losses accumulating under support.

Alternate Outcome:
The huge spike in volume over the last several days shows many of the willing sellers have already sold, meaning there is a far smaller pool of prospective sellers remaining.  Markets bottom when everyone is convinced the selloff will continue and this selloff has everyone nervous.  We will reach a point where there is no one left to sell and the market rebounds on tight supply.  Every day of sideways churn brings us one day closer to that day where we run out of sellers.

Trading Plan:
The longer the market holds in this trading range, the more likely it is we will break through support.  While we are close to a bottom, the market is not acting like it is oversold yet.  Bears can hold their shorts and dip-buyers should step back and wait for another whoosh.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 9:19 pm on August 6, 2014
Aug 052014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks gave back all of Monday’s gains on above average volume and ever so slightly undercut Friday’s lows in intraday trade.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Confidence was shattered when someone in the Polish government claimed Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine.  While most doubted the accuracy of this claim, it was enough to send an already weak market into a 15-point tailspin midday.

Poland is a member of both NATO and the EU and the US has a couple dozen F-16s stationed in the country.  It is ridiculous to think Putin would share his war plans with anyone in Poland, so we can discount these particular comments as overblown hyperbole and they don’t warrant further attention.  (Poland has been lobbying for months for the US to increase its military presence in the country and these alarmist comments are self-serving.)

While we can ignore these alarmist comments, it is noteworthy how strongly the market reacted to even a hint, no matter how dubious, of an escalation in Ukraine.  Market participants are skittish following the dramatic selloff last week and any whiff of problems sends them running for cover.

The market is a modest 3.5% from record highs, but you wouldn’t know it given all the pundits claiming the sky is falling.  Sentiment is plummeting, put/call ratios are spiking, and anyone watching the financial media is scared to death.  Given how dramatic the reversal in sentiment, it seems likely this is an overreaction to recycled headlines that have been in the news for months.

Simple fact is markets move up and down.  If everyone knew a dip wasn’t the start of something bigger, no one would sell it, everyone would buy it, and we’d all be rich.  But we know the market doesn’t work that way.  Dips are dips because they scare the hell out of owners and everyone assumes prices will continue dramatically lower.  If they didn’t, no one would impulsively sell their stocks at a discount and we wouldn’t get a dip in the first place.

Most everyone agrees the economy is still improving and the fundamental data backs it up.  The criticism bears have is this market’s gone too far and is overvalued.  They have long claimed we are on the verge of a correction and they are confident this time is the real deal.  And so far they’ve been persuasive enough to convince a lot of other people to dump their stocks too.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Every dip in the history of the market was a buying opportunity and this one will be no different.  The only question is how far this will go before it is buyable.  Given how quickly sentiment shifted and how little meat there is to the fundamental justifications for this weakness, the bottom is likely quite near.  While we might have one last leg lower, that would be the last flush before we bottom.

Alternate Outcome:
If Putin actually invades Ukraine, the threat of WWIII will crush the markets.

Trading Plan:
The best trading opportunities arise from having the courage to buy when everyone else is scared.  While the market is poised for another dramatic down day if we fail to hold 1,920, we should be looking for bargains to be bought rather than dumping stocks at a discount.  Everyone knows markets go up and down, but they always forget it in the moment.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:07 pm on August 5, 2014
Jul 312014
 
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
We go from boring, sideways trade to one of the most exciting days of the year.  Today’s 2% decline was the fourth largest of the last 13-months and volume was off the charts as we smashed through prior support and the 50dma.

MARKET SENTIMENT
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out the adjacent chart.  Today we plunged through support and finished at the lows of the day.  Looking back over the last year, we can see multiple examples of similar dramatic crashes through support.  The most noteworthy thing is each of these prior down-moves was the final gasps of a selloff.  If we use history as a guide, today’s huge volume selloff could very well mean the worst is already behind us.

Today’s move lower was a pain trade, plain and simple.  We didn’t get blindsided by a shocking headline and most traders had a hard time pointing to the one thing that triggered this selloff.  The best journalists and talking heads could come up with was recycling old headlines about taper, interest rates, Ukraine, sanctions, Israel, and Argentinian debt.  There was nothing new today that hasn’t been talked about ad nauseam over the last few weeks and months, meaning today’s selloff wasn’t really being driven by these recycled headlines.

What if the true root cause was simpler?  What if today’s huge move was nothing more than normal market gyrations that got carried away?  Breaking support sent technical traders running for cover and once they started selling, others followed their lead even though they didn’t know why they were selling.  This is the herd mentality that was ingrained in our species by evolution.  When everyone else in the clan started running, our ancestors started running too because anyone left standing around was about to become lunch.  And so while no one could explain why the market sold off today, they sold alongside everyone else anyway.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
We all know the best trading opportunities come from going against the herd but it takes a lot of courage to buy when everyone else is selling.  The market never found its footing today and finished at the lows of the day, but if we look back at previous pullbacks in this bull market, big down moves that broke support and finished at the bottom of the day’s range is fairly bullish.  While we might dip under today’s low by a few points over the next few days, if the aggressive selling doesn’t continue on Friday, the worst is likely behind us.

Alternate Outcome:
If it was too easy to buy the dip, then we haven’t found the bottom.  Everyone knows this is a buy-the-dip market, but we also know this cannot go on forever.  If we don’t find a bottom near Thursday’s lows, then we have to endure more pain before this is over.

Trading Plan:
If we find support Friday, the selloff is dead and everyone should buy the dip.  If we crash another 20-points in early trade, get out of the way because this thing will keep on going.  While we have the monthly employment report Friday, the market will largely trade the direction it wants to go regardless of report shows.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

 Posted by at 10:52 pm on July 31, 2014