Finding an Edge in a Dull Stock Market

How to gain an edge:

A bear jumps out of a bush and starts chasing two hikers. They both start running for their lives, but then one of them stops to put on his running shoes. “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!” says one hiker, the other one replies: “True, but I don’t have to outrun the bear; I only have to outrun you!”

What’s the point? The market is the composite opinion of all other investors. In essence, you beat ‘the market’ (aka the ‘bear’) by knowing more than your fellow investors (aka the other ‘hiker’). Knowledge is the edge.

I consistently follow dozes of different indicators, which fall into one of these four categories:

  • Supply & demand (liquidity)
  • Technical analysis
  • Investor sentiment
  • Seasonalities & cycles

When all or most indicators point in the same direction, there’s a good chance stocks will move in that very direction. I call this a high probability trade.

The last such signal occurred in December, when liquidity, sentiment, technicals and seasonality pointed higher. The bullish weight of evidence, at that time, was discussed in this article: Is the Bear Market Over?

Since then, the S&P 500 has gained more than 20%. How much further can stocks rally?

Investor Sentiment

Some sentiment gauges show elevated optimism, but considering the strong Q1 2019 performance, overall sentiment is surprisingly subdued. Shown below is a selection of six different sentiment indicators. None of them shows an extreme reading. Without extremes, sentiment doesn’t provide an edge. It is possible for stocks to move higher.

Technical analysis

Short-term: The S&P 500 is nearing over-bought and is facing mild resistance. The chart below highlights trend line resistance and horizontal volume resitance (volume by price not date) for the S&P 500 futures. Now doesn’t appear to be the time to chase price.

Longer-term: The trend is your friend, but the risk of being ‘un-friended’ exists, and it’s difficult to find low-risk entries in an market that’s driven by momentum, but on the edge of being over-extended.

Elliott Wave Theory, the most exotic tool in the technical analysis tool box, is up to interpretation and of little help (more details here).

Supply & demand

Liquidity continues to flow into US stocks. Uncertainty in the European Union and money on the sidelines in the US are a likely cause for the continued inflows. My favorite liquidity indicator suggested throughout 2016, 2017, and 2018 that new all-time highs will be reached, and that message continues to be the same.

Seasonality & cycles

Bullish mid-term election year seasonal forces, discussed here, appeared late, but they did show up.

Based on mid-term seasonality, more gains are likely, but general S&P 500 seasonality is entering a higher risk window.

Cycles are conflicting.

Summary

There are times when most indicators point in the same direction (as in December), making a directional forecast easy.

And there are also times when indicators are in conflict, such as now.

That doesn’t mean we are left entirely clueless. Based on the market’s pattern in early March, we expected the S&P 500 to see-saw across obvious resistance at 2,815 and secondary resistance at 2,830. The S&P spent two weeks doing just that. But in order to unlock lower targets, it would have had to break below 2,785, which it didn’t.

Periods of relative uncertainty are always frustrating, but two things should be kept in mind:

  1. It’s good to know when visibility is limited and act accordingly. Would you trust on Uber driver who’s speeding in the fog? Can you trust an analysts who’s ignorant of ,or over confident in periods of uncertainty? Knowing there is no edge, is an edge in itself.
  2. Periods of uncertainty always end!

And when certainty returns, the Profit Radar Report will be there.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation 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, 17.59% in 2014, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

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

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Will Momentum Continue to Push Stocks Higher?

From December 3 – December 26, 2018, the S&P 500 lost 453 points. Since then, the S&P rallied 400 points.

Who would have thought that the worst December since 1931 would be followed by the best January since 1987?

Extremes Everywhere

We are truly living in a world of extremes. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer while historic heat waves and polar vortexes ravage the globe. Stock market extremes fit into the picture.

Although the relentlessness of this rally was unexpected (at least for me), the Profit Radar Report highlighted a tell tale sign of the latest buying extreme when 90% of NYSE-traded stocks advanced on January 4 (blue columns).

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as “trader with a good track record” and Investor’s Business Daily says: “When Simon says, the market listens.” Find out why Barron’s and IBD endorse Simon Maierhofer’s Profit Radar Report.

As the table and thumbnail charts below shows (originally published in the January 9 Profit Radar Report), this kind of breadth and momentum thrust is rare and almost always long-term bullish.

Confirmation?

The initial thrust is thus far confirmed by my favorite liquidity indicator (blue graph, first chart), which has already retraced 88.82% of its prior losses, significantly more than the 63% S&P 500 retracement.

A new high of the liquidity indicator prior to a S&P 500 high will be additional confirmation of further gains.

Momentum vs Over-bought

The S&P 500 ended Tuesday overbought (based on RSI-2 – bottom graph, first chart). This is not the first time the S&P has become over-bought, but in 2019 it’s been a ‘mind of matter’ pattern; As long as the market doesn’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Red line resistance, the next potential speed bump, is around 2,745.

The Elliott Wave pattern for almost every major index is up to interpretation, but the Nasdaq-100 QQQ ETF pattern offers slightly more clarity than others.

As the chart above shows, QQQ could be completing a 5-wave move. Upon completion, a 5-wave move is followed by a correction (quite commonly a nasty one), and further gains.

One anomaly that also cautions against chasing stocks at this stage is the VIX. As the chart above shows, the VIX has fallen back to support around 15, in fact, it’s at the lowest level since October. At the same time, the S&P 500 is still below its 200-day SMA.

It’s unusual for the VIX to drop to a 3-4 month low while the S&P is still below its 200-day SMA. In fact, over the past 20 years it only happened during the 2001/02 and 2008 bear markets. Forward returns were consistently negative.

In summary, chasing stocks at this stage does not seem prudent. There should be a pullback … and who knows, perhaps the pullback also gathers momentum. We’ll evaluate when we get there.

Continued updates are available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation 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, 17.59% in 2014, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

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

February Mini Meltdown: Warning Signal or Buying Opportunity

What caused the February meltdown? If you are looking for another strong opinion, sorry, you won’t find it here.

Before we address the more important issue – whether now is the time to buy or sell – here is one tell-tale sign (of what contributed to the ‘meltdown’) brought out by the January 29 Profit Radar Report.

On Friday, the S&P 500 jumped more than 1% to a new all-time high with less than 55% of stocks advancing, another one of those unusual events. The only other times this happened was once in 1987 and thrice in 1999. All four events were followed by minor 2-8% immediate corrections, and eventually big corrections and bear markets.”

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as “trader with a good track record” and Investor’s Business Daily says: “When Simon says, the market listens.” Find out why Barron’s and IBD endorse Simon Maierhofer’s Profit Radar Report.

The correction sure was immediate, and it didn’t stop at 2-8%.

Buy or Sell?

Since much of the recent market action happened overnight, we’ll first be looking at the S&P 500 futures chart, which includes overnight trading activity.

The February 5 and 6 Profit Radar Reports published the chart below and stated: “Based on the extremely oversold readings, a bounce is becoming highly likely. S&P 500 futures tested the 200-day SMA and 38.2% Fibonacci. From high to low, the S&P 500 futures lost 12.14%. This is already more than the 5-10% correction we anticipated and close to the 14.38% loss (on average based on the last 4 cycles) leading into the mid-term low (see 2018 S&P 500 Forecast).”

The S&P 500 cash index looks a little different, as the pullback was ‘only’ 9.74%.

Here is one reason why we expect eventual all-time highs: RSI-2 was overbought, which suggested risk, but RSI-35 confirmed the January 26 all-time high.

RSI-35 also confirmed the December 2016 and March 2017 highs. As we mentioned many times in recent years, stocks rarely ever carve out a major top at peek momentum.

Conclusion

This clearly is a market that plays by its own rules (the rules are: there are no rules). Nevertheless, nearly all our studies and indicators suggest a resumption of the bull market once this correction is over.

S&P 500 futures already met our down side target, the S&P 500 cash index not yet. Ideally we’ll see a test of the panic low with a bullish divergence for a higher probability buy signal.

Either way, we consider this a buy the dip market. Continued updates and trade recommendation are available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s profile 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, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

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

How Stocks Escaped from 3 ‘Unavoidable’ Bear Markets

This bull market has been counted out many times. Just over the past few years, stocks faced three – allegedly – unavoidable bear markets … and escaped all of them.

Here are the three ‘unavoidable’ bear markets, and why stocks escaped:

Unavoidable Rate Hike Bear Market

Starting in 2015, the Federal Reserve let it be known that interest rates will be rising.

According to the pros, rising rates would sink stocks. After all, that’s why the Fed kept them near zero for so long.

However, history simply doesn’t agree with this conclusion. The April 26, 2015 Profit Radar Report used the chart below to illustrated that rising rates are not bearish.

In fact, 9 of the 13 periods of falling rates (since 1954) saw stocks rally. That’s why the Profit Radar Report concluded that: “A rate hike disclosed at the April, June, July or even September or October FOMC meetings is unlikely to coincide with a major S&P 500 top.”

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record.” Click here for Barron’s assessment of the Profit Radar Report.

Unavoidable Oil Slump Bear Market

Falling oil prices were the hot topic as prices dropped 50% from June – December 2014.

The general opinion was that falling oil prices would send stocks lower, like in 2008.

The December 14, 2014 Profit Radar Report ousted this bogus reasoning with the chart and commentary below:

This year’s oil price collapse differs from the 2008 collapse relative to the S&P 500. In 2008, the S&P 500 topped before oil did. In fact, the S&P 500 recorded its all-time high in October 2007 and was already down 21% by the time oil topped on July 11, 2008. In 2014, the S&P 500 recorded new all-time highs five months after oil started to decline.

The chart below plots oil against the S&P 500 and shows that falling oil prices are not consistently bearish for stocks. If history can be used as a guide, stocks are likely to hold up despite the oil meltdown.”

Unavoidable QE Bear Market

In 2008, the Federal Reserve unleashed it’s first round of Quantitative Easing (QE). A couple trillion dollars later, QE came to an end in October 2014.

Investors feared the withdrawal of QE would sink stocks (just like a junkie will crash without new fix).

The simplified logic (QE started this bull market, the end of QE will finish the bull market) seemed logical, but it wasn’t factual.

The October 5, 2015 Profit Radar Report plotted the QE money flow against the S&P 500 and concluded that: “We expect new bull market highs in 2015.”

Why?

The correlation between QE and stocks (at least in 2013/2014) did not support the notion of a bull market end. More importantly, our major market top indicator said the bull market is not over.

2016 Bear Market?

At the beginning of the year, when the S&P traded near 1,900, the media found countless of reasons why the bear market is finally here (many of them are listed here).

About six months and a 15% rally later, it’s obvious that the bull market is alive and well.

Short-term, the S&P has reached the lower end of our up side target range, so a pullback becomes more likely (more details here). However, any pullback should serve as a buying opportunity.

If you are looking for common sense, out-of-the-box analysis, check out the Profit Radar Report. It may just make you the best-informed investor you know.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s profile 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, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

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

Is the Stock Market Rigged? … and a More Important Question

Is the stock market rigged? Many believe it is … and rightfully so.

However, there are more interesting and pertinent questions, such as:

  • To what extent is the market rigged, and how does it affect me?
  • Why do allegations of a rigged market sprout up right now?

Different Ways to Rig the Market

There are different ways to ‘rig’ the market, and there are different entities to do so.

  • High frequency traders attempt to gain a time advantage.
  • Inside traders try to get information ahead of the crowd.
  • The Federal Reserve and central banks around the globe aim to prop up equity markets via various types of quantitative easing or low interest rates. The chart below plots the S&P 500 against the actual QE liquidity flow to illustrate the correlation (or lack thereof, may the reader judge) between stocks and QE.

Regardless of the exact correlation between QE and stocks, even the Federal Reserve’s own research admitted that FOMC meetings drove the S&P 55% above fair value (more details here).

But none of the above is new or shocking.

Why Now?

Perhaps more interesting than who and how is why now?

Isn’t it curious that articles and charts (like below) about central bank liquidity driving up stocks are popping up just as the S&P 500 is breaking to new all-time highs?

There were no such claims last August or early this year when the S&P traded below 1,900. Seems like investors (and fund mangers) are fishing for excuses.

As the chart below shows, investors and fund managers were clearly under-invested at the recent lows. 3 out of 4 large cap fund managers got beaten by the S&P 500 in 2015. How to explain such dismal performance?

Central bank liquidity is a welcome scapegoat. Fund managers could (and do) essential argue: “Our research suggested lower prices, but central banks stepped in and unexpectedly buoyed stocks.”

Boycotting Yourself Out of Profits

This is the most hated stock market rally ever, that’s why it’s gone on for so long.

Today’s market hater is tomorrow’s buyer (disgruntled, but ‘better late than never’). As long as this cycle perpetuates, there’s more up side. We observed this back in 2013: QE Haters are Driving Stocks Higher

Boycotting the market by avoiding stocks may feel like the ethical thing to do, but it hurts the portfolio.

There is no question the market is rigged to some degree, but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage for open-minded investors.

Rigged or not, the stock market has responded reasonably well to time-tested indicators. A number of them pointed to a strong stock market rally.

The key question is not whether the market is rigged, it’s how do you handle a rigged market? Now is the time to be the best informed investor you know.

The latest indicator-based S&P 500 forecast is available here: Stock Market Melt-Up Alert?

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s profile 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, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

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

 

Stock Market Melt-Up Alert?

The S&P 500 is at new all-time highs, so it may be appropriate to call to mind – and then discgard – all the bear market chatter of recent months.

Here is just a small selection of bear market headlines:

  • Barron’s: “Bracing for a Bear Market” – February 19, 2016
  • Forbes: “Investor Alert: We’re Firmly in a Bear Market” – January 25, 2016
  • MarketWatch: “If it Looks Like a Bear and Feels Like a Bear, it Probably is a Bear” – January 14, 2016
  • Benzinga: “The Bear Market is not Over Yet” – September 30, 2015
  • Forbes: “Here Comes the Recession and Bear Market” – January 6, 2016
  • Kiplinger: “Best Funds for Riding out a Bear Market” – September 15, 2016
  • Time: “The Next Bear Market Won’t Roar a Warning Just for You” – September 12, 2015
  • Motley Fool: “3 Timeless Tips for Surviving a Bear Market” – September 11, 2015
  • Investorplace: “Why the Bears will Keep Winning” – February 9, 2016

We never bought into the bear market idea.

The Profit Radar Report’s 2016 S&P 500 Forecast expected new all-time highs in 2016, as illustrated by this projection published at the beginning of the year.

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record.” Click here for Barron’s assessment of the Profit Radar Report.

Double Kickoff

Our bullish outlook was confirmed by the February ‘Kickoff’ rally, which was discussed in this article: 2016 Bear Market Risk is Zero Based on this Rare but Consistent Pattern

The April 17 Profit Radar Report featured another liquidity study and a more detailed S&P 500 projection (see chart below) along with the following commentary: “The most likely longer-term implications of our liquidity study remain in harmony with our 2016 S&P 500 Forecast: New all-time highs.”

Another breadth thrust, or kickoff rally, launched in late June, two trading days after the Brexit vote (see chart below).

The post-Brexit kickoff rally sported three bullish developments:

  • Up volume surge
  • Advancing stocks surge
  • New NY Composite a/d highs

The July 4 Profit Radar Report included a detailed analysis of this triple breadth thrust and concluded: “The NY Composite a/d lines are already at new highs, although the S&P 500 is not yet. This, along with the breadth thrust, strongly suggests that the S&P will follow in the not so distant future.”

The ‘not so distant future’ became reality five trading days later.

Buoyed by the breadth thrust, the S&P 500 gained the escape velocity needed to break above the glass ceiling near 2,130, which now serves as initial support (horizontal green bar).

Stocks may pull back due to short-term overbought conditions, but with or without pullback, higher highs are likely. It’s a buy the dip market.

Continued updates are available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s profile 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, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

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

 

2016 Bear Market Risk is Zero Based on this Rare but Consistent Pattern

The following research is an excerpt from the February 21 Profit Radar Report:

After touching 1,810 on February 11, the S&P 500 rallied three consecutive days, each day gaining more than 1.5% (see chart). Historically, this can be considered a ‘kickoff’ rally. How so?

Since 1970, the S&P gained more than 1.5% three days in a row only eight other times.

Every single time, the S&P 500 traded higher a year later (average gain: 19.16%, calculated after the last day of the kickoff sequence). The table below lists all occurrences.

The charts below provide a snapshot of each time this happened. The dashed green line marks the kickoff move. For context, each chart includes 60 trading days (about 3 months) before the kickoff rally, and 255 trading days (above 1 year) after.

When viewed in isolation, the implications of the February kickoff are indisputably bullish. Here are a few more nuances:

  1. Like in 2016, the S&P 500 closed at a 52-week low just before the kickoff rally in 1970, 1987 (December), and 2011.
  2. Four of the nine kickoff moves occurred in October, emphasizing October’s reputation as bear market killer.
  3. The S&P 500 violated the low set prior to the kickoff move only twice (1987, 2002). This second lower low marked the end of the decline both times.

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Reconciling Indicators

This pattern of post-kickoff performance is particularly of interest, because it harmonizes with the outlook published in the February 10 Profit Radar Report, which expected: “A drop towards or just below 1,812, followed by a rally just above 1,950 and a ‘better bottom, likely below 1,800″. 

The February 10 Profit Radar Report visually illustrated this outlook via the solid yellow projection shown below. The solid yellow projection replaced the dashed yellow projection, initially published on January 24 (see here for more details).

The S&P dropped ‘just below 1,812’ the next day (1,810.1 on February 11), and rallied as high as 1,946 (the Profit Radar Report recommended to buy at S&P 1,828 or SPY 183 on February 11).

As the solid yellow projection shows, the S&P almost reached our 1,950+ target area, which increased the odds of a pullback. Although the yellow line projects new lows, the S&P’s refusal to budge much may indicate further strength without a major selloff (6 of the 8 kickoff rallies analyzed above did not break the prior low).

At this point, we will just have to wait and see how the S&P reacts. But regardless of what happens the next few days, the buy signal at 1,828 got us in early, and gives us the luxury to manage profits instead of worrying about missing a runaway rally.

With or without break below 1,810, purely based on the post-kickoff pattern, the remainder of the year looks overall bullish. Of course, the bullish kickoff rally is tempered by the fact that our major market top indicator went off in May 2015, which increased the risk of an upcoming bear market. More details on the major market top signal is available here.

A comprehensive analysis of all pertinent indicators (liquidity, sentiment, technicals, historic patterns, cycles & seasonality, Elliott Wave Theory, etc) along with a projection for the entire year is available via the 2016 S&P 500 Forecast (available to subscribers of the Profit Radar Report).

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, 17.59% in 2014, and 24.52% in 2015.

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