S&P Bank ETF Just Erased 18 Months of Gains

Wall Street’s most notorious financial engineers aren’t getting any love from investors lately.

The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) just slipped to the lower end of an 18-month trading range, again.

My December 29 article pointed out that KBE is traded at key resistance around 34 and warned that: “KBE is at an inflection point. Could KBE become the (sector) tail that wags the (broad market) dog?”

KBE is close to support around 31, but a break to at least 29.5 becomes likely if that fails.

Perhaps more intriguing is the long-term correlation between KBE and its cousin the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF).

KBE’s recent reversal below its high kept a divergence alive that proved bearish in 2007. More details here: Bearish Financial Sector Divergence Stokes 2007 Crash Memory (don’t allow the bearish title to scare you … at least not yet).

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013.

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Simon Says: SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) Gnawing on Key Resistance

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) has been leaping from one new recovery high to the next.

But its Wall Street cousin, the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE), has been stuck in a 12-month trading range.

The chart below plots KBE against XLF. KBE is back at key resistance around 34.

KBE is at an inflection point. Could KBE become the (sector) tail that wags the (broad market) dog?

The December 21 Profit Radar Report showed two S&P 500 projections (one long-term bullish, one short-term bearish) and stated:

Stocks may hit an inflection point once the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 record new all-time highs. Depending on measures of market breadth at the time, we will either scale down (or protect) our long exposure or add to it.”

The S&P and R2K did hit new all-time highs and are close to their inflection point.

I’m not sure if KBE will be the tail that wags the dog, but KBE confirms that the market should be watched carefully for either acceleration or temporary breakdown.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013.

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XLF Financial ETF Breaks above Resistance to New 6-year High

The XLF financial ETF just soared to new highs not seen since September 2008. Perhaps more interesting than this new high is the pattern of this breakout. Interestingly, this week’s XLF push mimics the June breakout almost tit for tat.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) has been on fire and just busted through resistance that kept a lid on prices throughout July.

The XLF chart below shows Thursday’s breakout along with various other support/resistance levels highlighted in the past.

The blue boxes highlight the similarities between two recent patterns:

  • Triple top (red dots)
  • Selloff (red arrows)
  • Eventual break to new highs (green arrows) on elevated volume (green boxes)

The question on most investors’ minds is whether this breakout will stick.

If the pattern repeats itself, XLF would enjoy limited upside, a consolidation period and another pullback.

I am not sure if the pattern will repeat, however the prior resistance right around 23.05 is likely to act as support in the days/weeks to come. A drop back below 23 would caution that the bullish breakout is due for a pause.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

Leading U.S. Sector ETFs Send Mixed Messages

Every bull market is built on the shoulders of strong leading sectors. Things tend to get dicey when the leading sectors start to lag. Here’s a look at three leading sector ETFs and some interesting developments.

Looking at leading or lagging sectors can provide clues about the overall health of a bull market.

This article will look at three leading sectors.

Retail Sector – SPDR S&P Retail ETF

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) soared 42.29% in 2013 and was heading for a strong finish (many thought). Retailers love the holidays (November/December), but the 2013 holiday period wasn’t kind to retailers.

As the XRT chart shows, retailers topped in the last week of November and are threatening to break below green support.

A breakdown around 83.50 and 80 for XRT would spell trouble.

Financial Sector – Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF

The financial sector has been leading the S&P 500 for much of 2013 and confirmed Wednesday’s new S&P 500 high (XLF closed 2013 with a 35.52% gain).

Unlike the S&P 500, the financial select sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is trading well below its all-time high. In fact, it is bumping against 50% Fibonacci retracement resistance at 22.01.

It will take sustained trade above 22.01 to unlock higher up side targets.

Small Cap Stocks – iShares Russell 2000 ETF

Small cap stocks tend to outperform large cap stocks in December/January, but the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) has been on fire almost non-stop, up 38.69% in 2013.

Next notable resistance for IWM is around 119 (2002 Fibonacci projection).

Corresponding resistance for the Russell 2000 Index is at 1,166. Unlike IWM, the Russell 2000 Index is already trading above this resistance.

Summary

It’s said that a fractured market is a sick market. We are certainly seeing some ‘unhealthy’ divergences between the various leading sectors (this doesn’t even take into consideration the most recent Dow Theory divergence).

However, XLF and the Russell 2000 Index are at the verge of overcoming their resistance levels. A strong financial sector and small cap segment could also buoy the S&P 500.

The strong 2013 performance of all three leading sectors begs the question if there’s any ‘gas left’ for 2014. The following articles takes a look at how much up side is left:

Did the Strong 2013 Market Cannibalize 2014?

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (stocks, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

Most Despised Sector is Leading Charge into Correction Zone

posted on iSPYETF on 11-23-2013

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) is leading the charge to new (recovery) highs. Unlike the major market indexes, XLF is still having to deal with overhead resistance, such as this solid Fibonacci level.

People dislike injustice and QE is a blatant display of injustice. The Federal Reserve is helping out big banks while the little guy is left holding the bag.

Whether we like it or not, the financial sector is leading the latest charge to new all-time highs for the Dow Jones and S&P 500.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) has broken above resistance provided by the September 2001 low and is heading for the next technical milestone – the 50% Fibonacci retracement (see XLF chart below).

The 50% Fibonacci retracement at 22.01 was isolated as target for this rally in my July 12 analysis of the XLF ETF.

Despite recent strength, the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF still hasn’t even recovered 50% of the points lost from 2007 – 2009.

As of today, the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF is about 2% away from the 50% Fibonacci retracement.

The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) is about 5% away from its 50% Fibonacci retracement.

Does this Fibonacci level matter? The XLF chart chronicles how the financial ETF responded to the 23.6% and 38.2% Fibonacci levels.

The interaction with the 23.6% level was intense and saw a number of tests. The 38.2% level halted XLF’s advance just briefly.

It would be reasonable to expect some sort of reaction to the 50% Fibonacci level.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on XLF (and KBE) here as the financial sector accounts for 16.19% of the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY). This doesn’t mean that the tail wags the dog, but the performance of XLF and KBE may provide a sneak peek for what’s next for the S&P 500.

At the same time, the Dow Jones is reaching the long-term target we called for many months ago … and it’s not Dow 16,000.

Reaching this Dow target has been more than a decade in the making: Forget Dow 16,000 – Here’s the Real ‘Bubble Popper’

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar ReportThe Profit Radar Report uses technical analysis, dozens of investor sentiment gauges, seasonal patterns and a healthy portion of common sense to spot low-risk, high probability trades (see track record below).

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XLF Financial ETF is Teetering Above Key Support

The average investor may not be aware of this, but the SPDR Financial ETF (XLF) is sitting right above major support. This in itself is noteworthy, but its message is further emphasized by the fact that the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are struggling to overcome major resistance.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) chart below features exactly the same support/resistance levels highlighted in my September 12 article about XLF.

It is interesting to note that XLF has come back to test support made up of prior support/resistance levels at 20.30 – 20.50.

We also note that XLF peeled away from resistance at 21.15, which was the September 2001 monthly candle low.

I’ve kept past trend lines on the chart to illustrate that XLF tends to respect support/resistance trend lines created by prior price action.

The green bubble, for example, marks a technical breakout in August 2012. This breakout was foretold by the August 5, 2012 Profit Radar Report, which stated that: “Financials are currently underloved. With such negative sentiment, a breakout above 14.90 could cause a quick spike in prices.”

The gray bubble highlights a fakeout trend line break, which can also be seen on the S&P 500 chart.

In fact, the October 7 Profit Radar Report expected the fakeout trend line break for the S&P 500 (at the time the S&P 500 trend line was at 1,668) and stated that: “A dip below 1,668 followed by a close above 1,671 would most likely be a buy signal.

The fakeout dip below support was expected based on prior fakeout breakdowns that led to new highs (see chart below, originally published in the October 7 Profit Radar Report).

The S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) and Nasdaq Composite (Nasdaq: ^IXIC) are currently bouncing against major long-term resistance. Failure to overcome resistance may cause a correction.

That’s why this support shelf for XLF gains additional importance. A drop below support for XLF will likely indicate more down side, while the ability to stay above would be net bullish for the broad market. The chart for the Vanguard Financial ETF (NYSEArca: VFH) looks similar.

Summary

Investors should keep a close eye on whether support for XLF and resistance for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq holds.

As long as both hold, the broad market is ‘trapped’ in a sideways range (as we’ve seen over the last two weeks).

Where is key resistance for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq? Detailed charts and commentary are available here: Nasdaq and S&P 500 Held Back by ‘Magic’ Resistance.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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The XLF Financial ETF Chart Looks Ominously Bearish

Uncertainty is one of the annoying staples of investing, but there are times when risk and uncertainty can be reduced to an absolute minimum. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) is at such a low-risk inflection point right now.

Technical analysis is not infallible, but sometimes it allows you to pinpoint key inflection areas.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) is at such a key inflection point right now.

The financial ETF (XLF) chart below offers a wealth of information:

1) XLF is butting against resistance created by the May 22 high.
2) The rally from the August 28 low has almost exactly retraced a Fibonacci 61.8%.
3) The current rally high could almost be considered the right shoulder of a head-and shoulders top (although there’s no real neckline).
4) Key resistance is at 20.32 – 20.60.
5) Key support is at 19.50 and 19.30.
6) There is a bearish RSI divergence at the July 23 high.

What Does All This Mean?

As long as trade stays below 20.60, odds favor lower prices ahead for XLF, potentially a sizeable decline.

How to Trade

There are two low-risk ways to trade XLF:

1) Go short now with a stop-loss above resistance or
2) Go short once support is broken.

Those are low-risk trades, not no risk trades.

Why Low Risk

Support/resistance levels act like traffic lights. A car driving down the street is most likely to stop (and reverse) at a traffic light. It doesn’t have to, but if the light is red it has to stop.

The XLF resistance level acts like a traffic light. XLF doesn’t have to stop there (in fact, a bullish case can be made if XLF breaks above resistance), but if XLF is going to stop and reverse, it will be at this ‘light.’

Overhead XLF resistance provides a stop-loss level, which exactly defines the risk of the trade. The potential gain is significantly larger than the potential loss, putting the risk reward ratio in favor of the short trade.

Only trading low-risk setups like this one results in about 60% winning trades, but the gains of the winning trades are 3-4 times bigger than the losses of the losing trades. The Profit Radar Report specializes in spotting such trade setups. The green bubble (August 5, 2012), marks when the Profit Radar Report stated: “Financials are currently underloved. With such negative sentiment, a breakout above 14.90 could cause a quick spike in prices.”

XLF echoes the current position of the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY), which trades at a similar inflection point. The Nasdaq (Nasdaq: QQQ) has rallied much further than the S&P 500, the Dow Jones on the other hand (NYSEArca: DIA) has yet to catch up to the S&P 500.

Regardless of the short-term outlook for XLF, the financial sector is still plagued by serious issues.

Out of all people, it’s Hank Paulson – former Treasury Secretary (during the 2008 financial crisis) – who is addressing the vulnerability of the financial sector and actually warns of another financial ‘firestorm.’

More details here: Hank Paulson Warns of Another Financial Crisis

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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Hank Paulson Warns of Another Financial Crisis

First the Federal Reserve, now former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is warning of a financial ‘firestorm.’ Paulson’s list of worries is long and includes banks, derivatives, shadow banking and Fannie Mae. The dollar stats are truly staggering.

Remember Hank Paulsen? He was the United States Secretary of the Treasury during the financial crisis.

We don’t hear much about him domestically, but he just shared his concerns about another financial crisis with the German finance/economy newspaper Handelsblatt.

Literally translated, Paulson warns of another financial ‘firestorm’ sparked by one of the following factors:

Too big too fail banks, the ballooning derivatives market, hardly regulated but rapidly growing shadow banks, and the growing influence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could trigger another ‘firestorm’ at any moment.

Below are some staggering stats and numbers (source: Handelsblatt newspaper):

Too Big to Fail

The five biggest US banks have amassed $8.3 trillion in assets. That’s $2.5 trillion more than in 2007. The chart below compares the assets the five biggest banks held in 2007 with today. JPMorgan Chase is 74% bigger today than in 2007, BofA 44%, Wells Fargo 177%, and US Bancorp 66%. Only Citigroup has shrunk.

The problem of too big to fail is that any one big bank (NYSEArca: KBE) can light up the entire financial house of cards.

Handelsplatt reports plans of a corporate ‘last will and testament’, where banks have to outline how they can be wound down most efficiently during times of crisis.

Ballooning Derivatives Market

The derivatives market, which sparked the 2007 firestorm, has grown from $586 trillion in 2007 to almost $633 trillion today and is largely unregulated.

Regulators would like to funnel derivatives transactions through clearinghouses in an effort to increase transparency. Clearinghouses are also supposed to take the hit if any of the involved parties bites the dust. This, however only shifts the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Shadow Banks

With assets of $67 trillion (growing rapidly), the shadow banking sector is already half as big as the ‘regulated’ (if you can call it that) banking sector.

Unlike regulated banks, shadow banks (hedge funds, private equity funds, money market fund) are not subject to capital requirements. This is attractive if you’re greedy. That’s why many players leave the regulated market place in favor of more convenient shadow banking.

A positive; G20 members agreed at the recent summit in St. Petersburg to figure out a way to control shadow banking by 2015. Note the wording. Not to control, but find out how to control.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Are Growing

Not only are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac government controlled, they are more dominant then ever before. 90% of US mortgages are currently guaranteed by the government.

This means that the government, not the free market, determines the price, terms and conditions of mortgages. The lack of free market forces (such as supply and demand) exposes the mortgage/real estate market to renewed excesses.

Hank Paulson observed that every financial crisis is the result of failed political measures, which lead to economic/financial bubbles.

The whole financial leverage subject is a mind over matter issue. Investors don’t mind until it matters.

Investors at large were blindsided by the 2007 financial debacle. Excess leveraged mattered only after the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq started to tumble and not a moment before.

Bernie Madoff’s investors got bamboozled for years before it mattered. The scam was there all along, but it didn’t blow up until Wall Street got hit.

Bear markets are the best auditors. They reveal things first. The media follows thereafter.

When will the above excesses start to matter again?

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) sports a pretty clear pattern and a specific break down point that – once triggered – should get investors (and the media’s) attention and lead to much lower prices and a more critical examination of banking/financial excesses.

A detailed analysis of the financial sector can be found here: The XLF Financial ETF Chart Looks Ominously Bearish

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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Banks – Record High Excess Deposits May Fuel Stock Bubble

JPMorgan just recorded the largest amount of excess deposits in the history of banking. This sounds good at first glance, but it reflects a trend that exposes the entire banking sector to way above average ‘human error.’

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Fed kept encouraging banks to lend more.

Money makes the world go round and if banks don’t lend the economy doesn’t hum.

As of June 30, total loans by JPMorgan hit the lowest amount ($726 billion) since September 2012. Yeah, that’s not great, but not terrible either, it’s only a 9-month low.

At the same time deposits hit an all-time high of $1.203 trillion. That doesn’t sound bad; it just shows that JPM is well capitalized.

But behind the façade of engineered figures lurk some troubling questions:

  1. Banks are supposed to lend the money entrusted to them via customer deposits. The interest margin is where banks make their money. Apparently though, the margin business is no longer as attractive as it once was.

    Investing customer funds is obviously more profitable than lending. What happens if banks have no incentive to lend?

  2. JPMorgan’s excess deposits are at an all-time high of $477 billion ($1.203 trillion – $726 billion). Where does the excess money go?

The ‘London Whale’ trading disaster, which cost JPM some $3.4 billion (as far as we know), was funded by excess deposits.

With 61%, JPMorgan has the lowest loan-to deposit ratio and leads a trend. The average loan-to-deposit ratio for the top eight commercial banks has dropped nearly 10% in recent quarters.

We don’t know exactly where banks put their money, but we know Wall Street is just plain greedy. Like a horse, big banks will gorge themselves on juicy returns regardless of the consequences.

Right now it’s easier to make money with stocks, junk bonds, and other sophisticated leveraged instruments than lending. No doubt that’s where money is going and $477 billion (that’s just from one US bank) can buy a lot of stuff.

Based on past experience, big banks don’t know when enough is enough. Rather than stopping while they’re ahead, they’ll continue to play until someone gets stuck with a hot potato.

As per last week’s ETF SPY analysis, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) does not appear to have reached the end of the rope yet.

Higher prices are still likely, but technicals as well as big banks propensity for short-sighted decisions, caution that this time may only have been delayed, not different.

Weekly ETF SPY: XLF – Ticks Away from New 48-Months High

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (SPY) and entire financial sector are quietly closing in on a 48-month high. Buoyed by Bernanke, rising interest rate margins, and technicals, how high can financials fly?

It’s been a little while since we looked at the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF). The March 15, Weekly ETF SPY featured a long-term chart of XLF that showed a broad support/resistance range.

The daily XLF chart below includes the same support/resistance range (red bar). This range halted the XLF rally in March and April 2013 and proved support for the recent correction.

The fact that XLF didn’t drop below the ‘red box’ was one of the reasons I didn’t trust the latest correction. XLF found support where it should have.

As of today, XLF is just ticks away from eclipsing its May 22 high. A spike above would result in the highest reading since September 2008, 48 months ago.

Once the May 22 hurdle is cleared, there is no real resistance until the 50% Fibonacci retracement of the points lost from May 2007 to March 2009 at 22.

What is worrisome and can be indicative of a ‘last hurrah rally’ is the significant lag of RSI since its high watermark in September 2012 (red dot).

The last leg of the big XLF rally started when sentiment surrounding the financial sector reached a significant low (green dot). At that time, on August 5, 2013, the Profit Radar Report wrote:

“Financials account for 14.21% of the S&P 500, which makes them the second biggest sector of the S&P 500 (behind technology) and worth a closer look. The SPDR Financial Sector ETF (XLF) is butting up against minor trend line resistance at 14.90 and the previous June/July highs at 14.85.

Financials are currently under loved (who can blame investors). Of the $900 million invested in Rydex sector funds, only $18 million (2%) are allocated to financials.

With such negative sentiment a technical breakout (close above 14.90) could cause a quick spike in prices.”

A similar bullish sentiment extreme would be a welcome tell tale for a future selling opportunity. Perhaps we’ll see that closer to 22.

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