S&P 500 Update – Was Risk Flushed Out?

The last S&P 500 update introduced the risk/reward heat map (RRHM), which projected increased risk in January/February (see image below). How exactly the RRHM is produced is discussed here: Risk Reward Heat Map Methodology

The January 15 Profit Radar Report warned that: “Based on our risk/reward heat map, we are approaching a period of increased risk with an initial emphasis on late January.”

Just 4 days later, stocks suffered the biggest pullback since October 2019.

The pullback stopped on February 3, which makes the analysis from the February 2 Profit Radar Report (republished below) all the more interesting:

                                        * * * * *  February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

“Based on preliminary data, 82.85% of NYSE-traded stocks ended Friday lower, the biggest down day since August 8, 2019. The chart below shows various breadth gauges. The bottom graph reflects down days. A cluster of down days (80% or 90%) tends to reflect selling exhaustion and is usually seen near bottoms, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.

We’ve seen two 80%+/- down days already, so one could argue there’s already a measure of exhaustion.

Almost all of our short-term sentiment gauges perked up nicely and are already showing minor extremes. In times past, readings of similar degree have been enough to mark a bottom. Since we’ve seen some significant optimism extremes at the top, it is quite possible we need some more significant pessimism extremes. This, however, is not required.

The S&P 500 closed right on the green support trend line, which could be considered the minimum down side target for this pullback. Due to the sentiment extremes at the top and our RRHM, we would like to see lower prices, with 3,190 being the next and 3,130 +/- a more ideal down side target.”

                                      * * * * *  End February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

The S&P 500 spiked 110 point this week. The chart below shows the resistance (red) and support (green) levels mentioned in the February 3 Profit Radar Report.

The S&P tagged the minimum down side target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2016. The S&P failed to reach the ideal target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2007, and would have reflected a more proportional correction.

Resistance is still at 3,336. A break above 3,336 would allow for a move to next resistance, but the CBOE equity put/call ratio is getting dangerously low once again, and the RRHM suggests we may not be out of the woods yet.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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Risk/Reward Heat Map Methodology

The Risk/Reward Heat Map (RRHM) is essentially a sophisticated ‘pros and cons’ list that visually expresses whether risk or reward will dominate over a specific time frame.

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.

Process of Compiling RRHM

  • The calculation starts with identifying a unique event, such as: The S&P 500 broke to a new all-time high for the first time in 1 year (more examples of events below are listed below).
  • Once the event is identified, we look for past events (or occasions) that fit the same criteria.
  • Once past events are identified, we calculate the forward performance (for each individual event) for the next 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 month.
  • Once the forward returns are calculated, we consider the result an indicator, study or signal (ISS).
  • If 80% or more of a particular ISS show a positive return for a certain timeframe, it is added to the bullish column for that time period. One ISS can be bullish or bearish for multiple time frames (I.e. ISS is bearish for the next 2 and 3 month, but bullish for the next 6 and 12 month)
  • If 50% or less of a particular ISS show a negative return for a certain period of time, it is added to the bearish column for that time period.

Here is an actual example of an event and corresponding ISS published in the December 15, 2019 Profit Radar Report:

Event: For the first time since January 26, 2018 (474 days ago), the NY Composite set a new all-time high.

ISS: The NYC reached a new high for the first time in more than 400 days 8 other times since 1970.

2 weeks later, the NYC was up 4 times (50%), 1 month later up 6 times (75%), 2 month later up 7 times (88%), 3 month later up 8 times (100%), 6 month later up 7 times (88%), 1 year later up 8 times (100%).”

Below is a sampling of events that have been considered in the past. The examples are listed to show the depth and variety of events used to compile the risk/reward heat map. “X” and “[]” indicate variables.

  • [index] may refer to S&P 500, Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Russell 2000, NY Composite
  • [high or low] may refer to all-time high, 52-week high, highest or lowest level in X days/weeks/month, X above or below a moving average, bollinger band, or other indicator.
  • [indicator] may refer to RSI, MACD, CBOE put/call ratio, hedgers’ exposure, NY Composite a/d line, unemployment claims, yield curve, analyst estimates, sentiment polls, Hindenburg Omen signals, technical breakout or breakdown, period of time above/below certain threshold, or other sentiment, economic, breadth, liquidity indicator

Examples of Events

  • [Index] registered a new [high or low]
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] for the first time in [X] days
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] for the first time in [X] days, while [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index] came within [X] percent of a new [high or low] while [indicator] stayed [X] above or below [high or low].
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] while [x] percent of [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index A] outperformed [index B] for [X]
  • [Index A] outperformed [index B] for [X] while [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index] traded [X] consecutive days above [indicator]
  • [Index] traded [X] consecutive days above [indicator 1] while above [indicator 2]

Analysis

There are 3 ways to categorize the RRHM:

  1. Total signals (bullish and bearish)
  2. Net signals only
  3. Change (total or net) for a specific timeframe

Analysis #1 and #2 allow us to identify time periods of elevated risk or reward. Time is only one component of market forecasting, price is another – more important – one. A break below support or above resistance is usually required to start validating the message conveyed by the RRHM.

Analysis #3 allows us to identify changes. For example: The RRHM may project risk in February. If true to the projection, the S&P 500 drops X % in February, and ISSs start giving much more bullish signals, the RRHM change may indicate when a bottom is in.

The most recent RRHM will be available via the Profit Radar Report (along with a detailed interpretation and analysis of other factors), but below is a copy of the January 1 RRHM. Since January 1, an additional 56 ISS have been catolgued and included in the RRHM.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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S&P 500 Update: Epic Tug-of-War

Two of the most powerful stock market forces are facing off in an epic tug-of-war. Momentum vs sentiment.

On October 25, 2019, the S&P 500 broke above the blue triangle shown below. Although this break suggested higher prices, I did not – at first – expect such relentless momentum.

But in late November it became clear that we are dealing with a rare momentum market and I warned via the November 24 Profit Radar Report that: “Momentum markets tend to move higher than expected.”

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.

Here is one example of why momentum markets do not die easily: On December 12, the NY Composite hit a new high for the first time in 20 month. Since 1970, the NYC hit a 20-month high 8 other times. 3 month later, it was higher every time. 1 year later, it was higher 7 times.

Of course, a by-product of persistent gains is increase optimism. In fact, in mid-December we started seeing some legitimate extremes of enthusiasm. The equity put/call ratio set a number of extremes, one of them being a 1-year low. When this happened in the past, the S&P 500 was higher 1 and 3 month later only 33% of the time.

Here is the chain reaction extreme optimism tends to trigger:

  • Most investors have converted into buyers
  • There are few buyers left to bid up price
  • Sellers outnumber buyers and price falls, often rapidly

The Stage is Set

The stage has been set and the battle between momentum (bullish for stocks) and excessive optimism (bearish for stocks) has begun.

To better assess and gauge the risk/reward potential going forward, I introduced the risk/reward-meter or risk/reward heat map in December.

Risk/Reward Heat Map

Here is how this heat map is compiled: I look at various indicators, studies, signals (ISSs) and calculate their statistical forward return over the next 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 month.

The ISSs include the two examples mentioned above, as well as other ISSs related to sentiment, momentum, money flow, technical break outs (or break downs), certain economic indicators (like the yield curve), seasonality, cycles, etc.

  • ISSs with positive forward returns 80% (or more) of the time are added to the green reward side.
  • ISSs with negative forward returns 50% (or less) of the time are added to the red risk side.

The result is a visual heat map. Below is the first heat map published back in December. Since then, the visual has been refined and dozens of additional ISSs have been added.

The continuously updated heat map is available via the Profit Radar Report.

Technical Analysis

The risk/reward heat map allows us to properly and objectively assess current risk, but it is not a stand alone tool. Why? Risk only becomes reality when price follows.

The S&P 500 futures chart shows that price has been advancing within a trend channel. I am showing the futures chart because it includes over-night activity and reveals price action not seen in the S&P 500 cash chart.

For example, on Tuesday night, S&P 500 futures fell over 70 points or 2% to test trend channel support (this move happened overnight and is ‘invisible’ on the S&P 500 cash chart), but support held and the trend remains up.

Based on the risk/reward heat map, risk outweighs reward for the January/February period, but a break below support is still needed to trigger a deeper pullback.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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S&P 500: Short-and Long-term Risk vs Reward Analysis

it happened again: The S&P 500 erased a month worth of gains in just 3 days. Being aware of the up side potential compared to down side risk is always a good idea, but especially now.

Let’s objectively assess bullish and bearish factors to determine up side potential vs down side risk for the short-and long-term.

Up Side Potential – Short-term

The October 20 Profit Radar Report published the S&P 500 futures chart below and stated that: “A close above 3,002 (blue triangle) could eventually lead as high as 3,187.75 (3,167.74 for S&P 500).

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 S&P 500 came within 12 points of this target and then dropped 84 points in 3 days (as projected, see last chart of this article). Based on the above projection, near-term up side potential is limited.

Up Side Potential – Longer-term

On November 25, the VIX closed below 12 for the first time in 3 months. Over the past 20 years, this has happened 8 other times. 1 year later the S&P 500 traded higher every time (the blue lines below highlight the instances since 2013).

On November 25, the Russell 2000 reached a new 52-week highefor the fist time in a year. Over the past 20 years, this happened 5 other times. 1 year later, R2K traded higher 4 of 5 times.

For the first time since August 2018, the monthly MACD histogram for the NY Composite crossed above 0. The blue lines below highlight times when the MACD histogram exceeded 0 for the first time in a year. This signal was rare (only 6 times since 1980) and always followed by gains 1 year later (on average 16%).

Short-term Down Side Risk – Short-term

The November 24 PRR mentioned that VIX hedgers held a record amount of VIX positions and warned: “The last two times this happened, the VIX spiked and S&P 500 took a nasty spill.”

From November 27 – December 3, the VIX soared as much as 50%. This may have satisfied the need for a VIX spike already, but more could still be to come.

Longer-term Down Side Risk

The November 20 PRR noted that: “Unlike stocks, junk bonds have been trending lower. The chart below plots the S&P 500 against the SPDR High Yield Bond ETF (JNK). The blue boxes highlight other periods where JNK trended lower while the S&P trended higher. It usually and eventually led to stock market pullbacks of various degrees.”

It is difficult to put a time-frame on this ‘setup’ as the bearish divergence could be followed by weakness sooner or later.

Conclusion

When compiling my forecasts I look for ‘signal clusters.’ Those are times when indicators and studies coherently suggest a specific performance over a certain time frame.

Right now, a cluster of bullish studies suggests that stocks will be higher about 1 year from today.

Another cluster of indicators projects lower prices over the next 3 month. This cluster, however, is in conflict with the strong momentum market we’ve seen since early October.

In short, the weight of evidence suggests that pullbacks over the next 3 month are an opportunity to buy.

The yellow projection below, published in the December 1 Profit Radar Report, outlined a path in harmony with a number of indicators.

As you can see, the projection correctly captured the decline from 3,150 to below 3,100. Another rally to the high is quite possible and – if all goes according ‘to plan’ – should be followed by another pullback, potentially a much deeper, but also temporary one.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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Comprehensive S&P 500 Update

The S&P 500 has arrived at major trend line resistance (see chart). Will it relapse lower or climb above?

To answer this question, we’ll look at various indicators:

  • Investor sentiment
  • Market breadth & liquidity
  • Seasonality & cycles
  • Technical analysis

Investor sentiment – Obsession with Recession

The August 25 Profit Radar Report pointed out various bearish sentiment extremes – including that google searches for ‘recession’ spiked to the highest level since 2008 – and warned that stocks are likely to rally to flush out investors’ obsession with recession (for more details and chart go here: “Today’s stock market pessimism is a reliable sign of a stock market rebound“).

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 >150-point rally since certainly alleviated recession fears and turned investors more bullish.

The chart below plots the S&P 500 against 6 longer-term sentiment gauges.

The second chart plots the S&P 500 against 4 shorter-term sentiment gauges.

Sentiment summary: Sentiment is not frothy enough where it eliminates the possibility of further gains, but it now is more of a headwind than tailwind and more likely to curb gains and cause a pullback.

Market Breadth & Liquidity

The S&P 500 reached new all-time highs on four of the last eight trading days (November 5 – 14). But, on six of the eight days, more stocks declined then advanced.

There’s weakness ’under the hood,’ and it caused a number of bearish divergences shown on the chart below.

Bearish divergences can be erased quickly, but while they exist, they reveal a measure of weakness often seen prior to pullbacks.

Seasonality & Cycles

In terms of seasonality, the S&P 500 has passed the riskiest period of the year. However, cycles do not agree with the bullish year-end seasonality.

Technical analysis

The chart below highlights all the levels highlighted by the recent Profit Radar Reports:

  • Blue trend line: Potential resistance, but move above will lead to test of purple trend line
  • Purple trend line: Potential resistance, but move above will unlock higher targets
  • Red trend line: Potential resistance, but move above allows for further gains.
    Although the yellow triangle formation cautions that a move above red trend line resistance will not last.

Initial target for any pullback will be the purple trend line. A break below the purple trend line is needed to get lower targets.

Summary

The S&P 500 is at red trend line resistance. A temporary move above (post triangle spike) seems likely, but the risk of a relapse and test of purple trend line support (at minimum) is high. A break back below red trend line resistance (assuming there will be a spike above it) is needed to signal a reversal.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

Can the S&P 500 Suffer Another ‘Air Pocket Decline?’

The last S&P 500 update highlighted the bearish implications of trend line resistance and the ominous VIX wedge.

I reiterated the importance of this trend line in the July 28 Profit Radar Report when stating that: “We are looking at many indicators, but the purple trend line – boring as it may seem – is probably more helpful than other gauges at this point.”

The S&P 500 fell over 200 points after tagging purple trend line resistance (see ‘before and after’ charts below).

Obviously, the purple trend line worked, but will the S&P 500 tumble another few hundred points as implied by the expanding triangle pattern (wave E shown on left)?

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.

Here are a few other facts and indicators to help gauge the odds:

New Lows

On Monday, 249 NYSE-traded stocks fell to new 52-week lows. This is the highest reading of 2019. In fact, it’s very unusual for such high 52-week low numbers to occur so soon after the S&P 500 was at an all-time high. The blue lines in the chart below show other times when 52-week lows spiked above 240 when the S&P was within 10 trading days of a 52-week high. It wasn’t a good sign for stocks.

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Technicals

The S&P 500 is back above trend line resistance (now again support, tomorrow around 2,905). As long as trade remains above this green trend line, the rally can continue higher.

Next resistance is at 2,950 – 2,985.

Island Reversals

The term island reversal is often associated with tops but can also mark bottoms. It simple donates a number of candles at a price extreme separated by two gaps.

As outlined by the blue oval, the S&P 500 just staged an island reversal to the up side.

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As indicated by the blue lines below, similar island reversals occurred in August 2,015, December 2015, February 2016 and June 2016. The short-term performance was mixed, but long-term performance was positive.

Breadth

Monday’s Profit Radar Report stated that: “Today’s drop saw 87.87% of all stocks declining. This tends to be indicative of at least short-term lows. A bounce is likely.

The developing bounce delivered an 83.45% up day (83.45% of NYSE-traded stocks advanced) Thursday. The green lines in the chart below show that this has been positive 3 of the last 5 times it happened.

Summary

Purple trend line resistance has been validated by the S&Ps 200-point drop. It’s rare for indicators to foretell are massive drop, but the evidence allows for a continuous decline.

The S&P 500 will have to stay below resistance (2,985) and fall to new lows to start validating the bearish implications of the expanding triangle pattern discussed here.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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5 ‘Keep it Simple’ Stock Charts and 1 Bearish Constellation

The rally from the June 3 low has created many bullish price and breadth patterns and studies (5 of them are discussed here). The market has followed through on them thus far.

However, the short-term Elliott Wave structure does not look bullish, and the long-term projection published in the June 2 Profit Radar Report (shown here) points to a serious speed bump.

In short, there is a measure of conflict between indicators. When that happens, I like to go back to the basics and keep it simple.

Resistance

The DJIA shows probably the most important resistance range to watch: around 27,300.

Support

The S&P 500 shows some important support levels to watch: around 2,910 and 2,875.

Short-term Trend Channel

The June 23 Profit Radar Report used this chart to simplify the short-term: “A break below channel support would unlock a pullback. The wave labels show the most bearish EWT-based option. It’s not ideal, but it seems more likely than other options.”

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.

Trend channel support failed the next day and unlocked the biggest pullback of June. It is possible to count the decline from June 21 as 5 waves, which cautions that the trend may have changed from up to down.

Leader Fatigue

The rally from the June low has been led by defensive sectors like consumer staples. Contrary to popular belief, such (defensive-led) rallies are statistically not doomed to fail.

However, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) carved out a pattern with a lot of bearish potential. I recommended to go short at 59.07 on June 13. The stop-loss is now set at breakeven, which allows us to ‘play with house money.’

Overlap

Small cap stocks represented by the Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) are lagging. In fact, IWM fell below the June 5 high. If one wanted to count the June rally as 5 waves, June 5 would be wave 1, but yesterday price dropped below the June 5 high. This creates a bearish (wave 4 / wave 1) overlap (blue arrow) that’s not allowed and voids a short-term bullish Elliott Wave count.

Bearish Constellation

Not only small caps are lagging. The transportation and banking sector are too (see chart below).

Only two other times (July 1990 and July 1998) has there been such a big divergence between the S&P 500 and small caps, transportation, and banking. This is a small sample size, but it led to a rocky and negative performance over the next quarter.

Conclusion

Even during times where there is conflict among indicators, going back to the basics provides some general guidance.

It will take a sustained move above resistance to unlock higher targets, and a break below support to unlock lower targets.

Another big but temporary drop would certainly clear up the structure and provide a lot more certainty, but we’ll let the above levels indicate whether it will happen.

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.