Comprehensive S&P 500 Update

The latest S&P 500 all-time high clocked in at 2,440 as the S&P 500 continues to plow over bearish forecasts

Will the S&P 500 in particular, and stocks in general, continue to slog higher?

Here is our comprehensive forecast based on the “four stock market engines:”

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

Supply & Demand

We first unveiled our favorite liquidity indicator in 2014. This indicator correctly foreshadowed the 1987, 2000 and 2007 market top and – aside from a timely caution signal in 2015 – persistently pointed towards continued bull market gains.

For readers of our free website, we’ve dubbed this indicator ‘secret sauce.’ Why, and how this indicator is used is explained here.

In short, major market tops have been preceded by bearish divergences (S&P 500 rallies to new all-time highs, secret sauce does not).

Throughout 2016 and 2017 however, there’ve only been bullish divergences (secret sauce rallies to new all-time highs, but the S&P 500 lags behind). The last four times this happened was on April 30, and April 9, 2017, September 22, and April 16, 2016 (see green arrows).

Each time the Profit Radar Report stated that: “[Secret sauce] is already at new highs. The S&P 500 will soon follow.”

Secret sauce just confirmed the latest S&P 500 high, which means a major market top is still many months away (this doesn’t mean we can’t see a correction though).

Technical Analysis

The most exotic ‘tool in the technical analysis box’ has also been the most accurate: Elliott Wave Theory. Therefore we will focus on Elliott Wave Theory for this update.

The charts below were initially published in the August 28, 2016, Profit Radar Report, and have been our roadmap ever since as the S&P moves toward 2,500.

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

We have made some minor adjustments recently, which place the S&P near the beginning of a more pronounced, choppy correction (see ‘we are here’ on top graph). This correction would be labeled as wave 4 (likely intermediate degree).

Despite rising prices, there has been a measure of internal weakness (see chart below). There have been no strong up days (90% days, where 90% or more of volume flows into advancing stocks). The percentage of stocks above their 50-day SMA is also lagging.

This is compatible with a rally that’s nearing a (temporary) point of exhaustion.

Investor Sentiment

The chart below provides a long-term comparison between investor sentiment near the 2007 high and today.

In short, investors are not as euphoric about stocks today as they were in late 2007. Based on investor sentiment, stocks are not at a major market top.

In fact, stocks may still benefit from the pessimistic extremes seen in January/February 2016 (when the S&P traded below 1,900).

The January 29, 2016 Profit Radar Report stated that: “Sentiment turned pessimistic enough to become a bullish tailwind for the coming months.”

Seasonality & Cycles

Cycles project weakness later on in 2017 and seasonality is hitting a soft spot until September/October.

Conclusion

Once the S&P 500 reaches our up side target we will be looking for a more pronounced correction, but not the end of this bull market.

Continuous updates and actual buy sell recommendations (we haven’t had a losing trade since June 2015) are provided 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.

 

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S&P 500 Update

This article was published on June 1, 2017 at 9:00am PST on iSPYETF.com

15 points in 12 weeks. That about sums up the S&P 500 ‘progress’ since March 1.

The March 21 Profit Radar Report warned that: “In terms of Elliott Wave Theory, the March 1 high (2,400.98) is a wave 3 high. This means we are in a wave 4 correction. Waves 4 are the most choppy, and unpredictable of all waves. The coming months will likely test investors patience.”

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

Predicting a ‘go nowhere’ market is no fun, but it helps set expectations and limits frustration.

Even within trading ranges, there are brief bursts where the market telegraphs its next move.

For example: The May 7 Profit Radar Report featured this chart with 3 projections (based on Elliott Wave Theory).

Each option (green, dark blue, and light blue) projected a pullback around S&P 2,410 in mid-May followed by a renewed rally. The pullback happened on May 16, a day after the S&P hit 2,406.

Although this pullback failed to hit our buy trigger (which was set a bit lower), buyers stepped in as anticipated. The S&P has moved as high as 2,419 and is currently held back by trend channel resistance (see chart below).

The rally from the May 18 low at 2,353 seems to support the green Elliott Wave Theory-based projection. If that’s the case, the S&P will continue to move higher.

Although Elliott Wave Theory has been very accurate in recent years (it projected the February 2016 low and the ‘Trump rally’), there are reasons (i.e. lake of breadth, bearish divergences, ATR – see vertical red lines in chart above) to take this bullish Elliott Wave projection with a grain of salt.

Therefore it’s best to play the next moves step-by-step. A move above black trend channel resistance is required to unlock the next up side target (red trend line resistance around 2,430).

A move below 2,400 and 2,380 on the other hand, would seriously rattle the immediate bullish potential.

The longer-term outlook shared in the August 28 Profit Radar Report remains valid.

Continuous 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.

 

This ETF Flaw Caused Subscribers a 30% Loss, But we Fought Back

I am about to share the worst trade of my carrier with you. It cost me a fair amount of sleep (and probably cost me a number of subscribers, who must have thought Simon is quite the moron).

Here is the sad tale of a good trade hijacked by an ETF flaw (fortunately there’s a happy ending).

The Setup

Earlier this year, in mid-January, we saw a number of VIX extremes, such as highly elevated SKEW readings (SKEW measures ‘black swan’ risk), near-record SKEW/VIX ratio readings and the highest ever long exposure of commercial VIX traders (smart money). The charts below, published by the Proift Radar Report in January, illustrate the extremes.

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

Statistically, those conditions led to an average VIX spike of 22% over the next month every time (even a week later the VIX was higher 85% of the time).

The biggest problem (which we were well aware of) was the lack of a suitable trading vehicle for long VIX exposure. Yes, there is VXX, but it suffers from contango (we have often successfully shorted the VIX via XIV, which puts contango in our favor, more about XIV below).

What is Contango?

Below is a brief explanation of contango (taken from an August 2014 report):

The VIX quoted in-day-to-day life is the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spot price (today’s VIX price). However, the futures used to create ETPs like the iPath S&P 500 Short-Term VIX Futures ETN (VXX) are based on the future VIX price, which is almost always more expensive than the spot price. Over time the more expensive VIX futures decline in value, eventually converging with the spot price at expiration.

The chart below compares the current spot price with various futures prices. The difference between the spot price (12.20) and the September futures (13.45) is 9.84%. In other words, it will take a 9.84% move in the VIX to neutralize the time decay between the spot and September futures price.

As time goes by, ETF providers are forced to continuously replace expiring futures with new (more expensive) futures (this process is called ‘rolling over’). The further away the futures expiration date, the bigger the time premium. This time premium and resulting value decay is called contango.

Contango vs the Setup

Despite contango, the VIX buy signal seemed strong enough to deliver a net gain (a 20% short-term VIX spike tends to translate into a 5-7% VXX gain). We were looking for a short-term VIX spike, before a multi-week S&P 500 rally.

On January 23, we pulled the trigger and bought a very small amount of VXX at 20.60. A week later, the VIX traded higher, and a month later, the VIX traded higher. The VIX even spiked 22% (as expected) a number of times, but VXX contango persistently eroded VXX.

VXX by-passed the short-term VIX spike, and then, as anticipated, the stock market continued higher (which kept the VIX depressed). Nevertheless, we expected a period of choppy trading (volatility) to start in February/March.

On March 1, the S&P 500 topped, and has basically been range bound since.

On March 23, it was obvious that the VIX would fall again before the next window for a S&P 500 correction arrived. We bought XIV to hedge VXX, which turned out to be a great move.

The Next Window

The window to unwind this unfortunate VIX trade finally arrived this week. The May 14 Profit Radar Report stated that: “We are still looking to sell XIV and double up on VXX at S&P 2,407. Aggressive traders may elect to short the S&P around 2,410.”

Unfortunately there was another blow. The S&P 500 missed our trigger level for XIV and VXX (2,407) by one point (on Tuesday, March 16). The S&P gapped lower the next morning (by 17 points), robbing us of the best opportunity to unwind this trade.

We took the second-best opportunity. The March 17 intraday Profit Radar Report recommended to sell XIV at 77.40, and double up on VXX at 14.45. We closed XIV for a profit of 12.17% and bought VXX at 14.45.

The next morning (Thursday, March 18) we closed our entire VXX trade at 15.97. The VXX portion bought on January 23 accrued a 22.47% loss, the VXX portion bought on May 17 ended with a 10.51% gain. The 11.96% loss was offset by the 12.17% XIV gain.

At the end, we closed this unfortunate trade combo with a tiny 0.21% gain.

Lessons Learned

Patience and impeccable timing (at the end) rescued this trade, but in hindsight, the best worst trade is one not taken.

Contango needs to be respected. In the past, we traded XIV six times (XIV benefits from contango). All six XIV trades were profitable (12.17%, 14.46%, 13.33%, 7.57%, 15.70%, 4.49%). It’s better to focus on XIV (falling VIX) than VXX (rising VIX), especially in a bull market.

Although we knew that the VIX would fall mid-term, we bet on a short-term rise. It’s not smart to bet against the larger trend.

With the VXX trade closed at a miniscule profit, we keep our streak of no losing trade (since June 2015) alive.

The Profit Radar Report provides about 20 specific trade setups per year.

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 Alarming is the 23-year VIX Low?

According to Barron’s, the VIX is flashing a stock market warning. Barron’s is not alone. If you threw a water balloon in a room filled with analysts, odds are you’ll hit someone who’s bearish stocks because of the VIX.

Facts Trump Opinions

VIX readings below 10 are rare. There’ve only been 9 other ones since the VIX’s inception in 1993. None of them led to stock market crashes (click here for detailed analysis).

Some claim that the 2000 and 2007 market tops were preceded by a low VIX, but that’s one of the biggest misconceptions on Wall Street.

This special report, published by the Profit Radar Report on June 16, 2014, showed why the VIX was TOO LOW for a major market top back then (and still is today).

VIX Seasonality

VIX seasonality supports overall lower readings until the major seasonal low in early July.

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

VIX-based Indicators

The chart below plots the S&P 500 against the VIX, VIX/VXV ratio, CBOE equity put/call ratio, and contango.

The VIX/VXV ratio gauges fear of short-term volatility (30-day, VIX) compared to longer-term volatility (90-days, VXV). Readings above 1 happen when investors are more concerned about the short-term than longer-term.

This occurs near stock market lows and has been a very reliable buy signal. The April 16 Profit Radar Report noted the VIX-sell signal highlighted in green (VIX is down 39% since).

On Monday, the VIX/VXV ratio was 0.776. Readings below 0.76 happen when investors are more concerned about the longer-term than the short-term.

Although a potential warning sign, the VIX buy signal (<0.77) has not been as accurate as the VIX sell signal (>1.0).

The CBOE equity put/call ratio and contango are showing a measure of bearish (for stocks) potential, but have plenty room to become more extreme.

S&P 500 Outlook

The April 11 Profit Radar Report published the chart below along with the following forecast: “As long as trade remains above 2,330, we are still looking for higher prices. The chart below outlines two potential up side targets (2,365 – 2,375 and 2,380 – 2,410).” The upside target was revised to 2,405 – 2,410 on April 26 (more detailed outlook available here).

The S&P is now just below 2,410. It remains to be seen whether bears will take a stand, but if they do, it should be around 2,410 (which would result in a VIX spike).

Continued analysis for the S&P 500, VIX and other asset classes is 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.

 

S&P 500 Update – Churning for a Burning?

The S&P 500 reached our minimum down side target and rallied strongly. Is this rally for real or are stocks just ‘churning for another burning’?

Bullish Signals

This week’s rally is credited to the French election, but a series of solid buy signals triggered days before the news from France.

The CBOE equity put/call ratio signaled a S&P 500 rally.

Contango and the VIX/VXV ratio signal a VIX decline.

The chart below – which plots the S&P 500 against the VIX, VIX/VXV ratio, CBOE equity put/call ratio, and contango – was published in the April 16 PRR along with the following commentary:

The VIX/VXV ratio, equity put/call ratio and contango are at multi-month extremes.It appears like the amount of sellers left (needed to drive prices lower) is rather limited. The weight of evidence strongly suggests that we should focus on the upcoming buying opportunity, not on how much more down side may or may not be left.”

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

The same Profit Radar Report also highlighted positive seasonality (see below).

Bearish Caveat

This bounce is in sync with seasonality and various buy signals, but will it last?

The April 9 PRR featured the yellow projection shown below. According to this scenario (based on Elliott Wave Theory), the S&P would reverse above 2,390 and fall to new lows (2,320 or below).

The S&P 500 is above 2,390 and has entered a price zone where a relapse becomes possible.

We will be watching various breadth, money flow, sentiment and technical indicators to determine whether this rally will stop here or not.

Continuous 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.

 

Is the Correction Already over or Just Re-loading?

The last free update (March 2: S&P 500 Reaches Up Side Target – Now What?) pointed out that the S&P 500 reached our up side target, and that risk of a pullback is increasing.

Since March 1, the S&P lost as much as 79 points, the largest drop since last October (followed by a 50-point snap-back rally). Is the correction already over, or are stocks ‘re-loading’ for the next leg down?

The February 20 Profit Radar Report published the chart below with the following ‘worst-case scenario’ assessment:

Based on Elliott Wave Theory, we anticipate that the S&P is near the end of its wave 3 rally (which started on June 27, 2016 at 1,991.68). Micro-managing the end of wave 3 is probably a fool’s errand, but in attempt to assess the following wave 4 correction potential, lets assume wave 3 ends at 2,405 (red trend line). The common wave 4 retracement is 38.2% (of wave 3), which would present a down side target of 2,247.”

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

As it turns out, the S&P ran out of fuel at 2,401, not 2,405. Based on the market’s strength, and momentum leading up to the 2,401 high, a drop into the mid 2,200s would be deeper than expected (but a good buying opportunity if it happens).

Are there other down side targets?

The ‘Peace of Mind’ Trade

The March 26 Profit Radar Report pointed out that the S&P 500 is about to reach the minimum down side target around 2,326 (this was based on Sunday’s overnight selloff), and recommended to buy Monday’s gap down open (which ended up being at 2,329).

Why?

Because the S&P 500 reached the minimum down side target, was oversold and showed bullish divergences at Monday’s intraday low (Sunday night’s new low in S&P futures also showed a bullish divergence). A bounce was highly likely.

We just didn’t know how big of a bounce it will be.

Although another low sometime in April would fit best, it is not necessary. The chart below plots the summer 2016 correction against what we’ve seen this far for a potential template.

The recommendation to at 2,329 on Monday was given to provide peace of mind in case stocks continue higher (like they’ve done most of the past eight years).

If the S&P 500 does not fall to new lows in April, we are already long.

If the S&P 500 does drop to new lows, we will be able to buy at lower prices (and ideally sell our long position for a profit or stop out at breakeven to avoid any losses).

We will monitor various breadth and sentiment measures along with technical resistance levels to help determine if/when stocks will relapse.

Buying at lows – although they may prove temporary – eliminates FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the perceived associated need to chase after price.

The next few months will likely increase the need for FOMO trades, as we expect some big moves and hope not to be left behind.

The Profit Radar Report’s 2017 S&P 500 Forecast and twice-a-week regular updates provide short, mid-and long-term forecasts based on various key indicators.

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.

 

Will the Dow’s Record Streak End with a Bang?

On Monday, February 27, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) recorded its 12th consecutive up day. This is the second longest such streak since 1930 (the longest run was 13 days in January 1987).

The S&P 500 hasn’t dropped more than 1% a day for 104 trading days.

The record gains haven’t gone unnoticed. Many sentiment indicators are in uber-bullish (bearish for stocks territory).

The investment advisors and newsletter-writing colleagues polled by Investors Intelligence are more bullish (63.10%) now than at any other time since 1987. This tumultuous span includes the 2000 tech bubble and the 2007 leverage bubble tops.

The Relative Strength Index (RSI-14) finished February above 70 on the daily, weekly and monthly chart.

However, trading volume has been suspiciously low. Despite solid gains, less than 40% of NYSE volume has been flowing into advancing stocks.

History’s Most Important Lesson

Record optimism and strong gains on low volume … anyone with a bearish disposition could (ab)use those facts to paint a pretty bearish picture.

However, history cautions against that.

Several times throughout the post-2009 bull market – and most recently on December 14, 2016 – the Profit Radar Report pointed out that historically stocks rarely ever top on peak momentum.

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

The February all-time highs occurred on peak momentum.

The green vertical lines (chart below) mark previous peak momentum (based on RSI-35) highs. None of them market major tops.

The blue lines mark strong rallies to new all-time highs on low volume (less than 40% of NYSE volume flowing into advancing stocks).

Most of those instances were followed by corrective pullbacks, but nothing worse.

Expect the Abnormal

Sometimes stocks simply push the envelope and plow higher than anyone thought possible (the S&P 500 already surpassed the 2017 year-end targets analysts set in December).

The August 28, 2016 Profit Radar Report outlined why to expect such ‘abnormal’ gains.

1) Bullish breadth thrust off the February and June 2016 lows

2) Bullish Elliot Wave Theory patterns

Although the risk of a temporary pullback is increasing, the body of evidence points towards further gains in the months to come.

The historic Dow Jones winning streak is unlikely to be followed by a “thud”.  Any correction should be viewed as a buying opportunity.

Visual forward projections (published back in August, but still valid today) and up side targets are available here: S&P 500 Update – Expect the Abnormal. In fact, the up side targets given in August have been reached. Now what? Here is the latest update: S&P 500 Reaches Up Side Target – Now What?

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.