S&P 500 Update – Expect the Abnormal?

Last week the S&P 500 almost reached the year-end target (2,220) given by the Profit Radar Report back in January. What’s next?

The S&P 500 is up 130 points since the beginning of the month, S&P 500 futures soared as much as 183 points.

Stocks are overbought, and under normal circumstances there should be a noteworthy pullback. But there is reason to expect the abnormal.

When Abnormal Becomes Reality

The August 28 Profit Radar Report published an uber-bullish Elliott Wave Theory-based projection. The Profit Radar Report’s forecasts are always built on multiple indicators, and this bullish projection was confirmed by liquidity, long-term investor sentiment and bullish year-end seasonality.

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 excerpt below is longer than usual, but it explains why an ‘abnormally’ strong rally was likely to develop. From the August 28 Profit Radar Report:

The two main reasons we want to buy in the foreseeable future is:

1) The breadth thrust off the June low (July 4 PRR)
2) Bullish Elliott Wave Theory potential

We never rely unduly on any one single indicator. It is noteworthy however, that the three most likely Elliott Wave Theory (EWT) interpretations are all bullish. The degree of bullishness varies, but according to EWT, more gains are ahead. The question is not if, but how much and for how long.

The first chart below shows conceptually where the S&P 500 is at relative to the three most likely EWT options along with the odds for each scenario.

The second chart provides a more detailed (yet basic) outline/labeling of EWT counts #1 (45% probability – light green) and #2 (35% probability – dark green).

What we are focused on for now is the most likely scope of any pullback. The down side risk for #1 is larger (around S&P 2,130 – 2,070 – see light green square) than for #2 (around S&P 2,150 – 2,130 – see dark green square).

No further detail is shown for the most bullish option, #3 which would translate into a few more years of bull market. At this point, we discount #3 (20% probability) because some cycles point to prolonged weakness starting in H2 2017.

Summary: At this point we don’t know the scope of any pullback, but EWT and the June breadth thrust suggest that any weakness will be bought (perhaps even furiously)We consider the longer-term up side potential to be significantly larger than the down side risk.

The anticipated pullback drew the S&P 500 to 2,084 (right inside the first target zone). Stocks haven’t looked back since.

The November 13 Profit Radar Report added that: “The DJIA and Russell 2000 ended the week overbought, which normally will cause a pullback. However, if the S&P is truly in a wave 3 advance, stocks will continue to plow higher without much letup.”

Overbought, But No Bearish Divergences

Unless you’re already on the bus, a momentum driven market is one of the hardest markets to get in (like jumping onto a moving bus), because it rarely stops.

At some point momentum will halt (which is sometimes followed by a nasty correction), but the question is when? The chart suggests to watch support at 2,190 – 2,200 (if lucky, we may even see 2,170 – 2,150).

Waves 3 (according to EWT) are generally strong and relentless moves. Stocks appear to be in such a third wave advance.

Many investors consider EWT hocus-pocus, and I can understand way. I’ve seen many horrid EWT interpretations cost investors a ton of money.

That’s why the Profit Radar Report never relies on any one single indicator. As of right now, the weight of evidence (not just EWT) points towards higher prices (with or without prior pullback). We go where the indicators take us.

Back in January, when the S&P traded below 1,900, our year-end target of 2,220 seemed outrageously bullish. As it turns out, it actually may not have been bullish enough.

Continuous updates with actual buy/sell recommendation (which help balance down side risk with the risk of missing out on the up side) 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.

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How Elliott Wave Analysis Helps and Harms Investors

If you look at your graduation class you’ll probably find that some of the biggest oddballs or nerds have landed the best jobs. Elliott Wave Theory (EWT) is the oddball of technical analysis, but has produced some spectacular results … spectacularly good and spectacularly bad. Here’s how to make EWT work.

The right dose is important, because it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Take for example mold. Mold can be dangerous so we try to stay away from it. In small doses though, mold can be all right, even tasty.

If you like Gorgonzola, Blue Cheese, or Roquefort cheese you are basically eating moldy cheese that contains Roquefortine, a mold dangerous in large quantities.

Like Gorgonzola, Blue Cheese or Roquefort, Elliott Wave analysis can be healthy (for your portfolio) in controlled quantities. Like moldy cheese, Elliott Wave analysis may also be an acquired taste.

The Technical Analysis Oddball

Elliott Wave Theory (EWT or Elliott Wave analysis) is the oddball of technical indicators. Some love it, others hate it.

But investing is supposed to be about results not emotions. So regardless of emotional bias, serious investors should take an objective look at EWT.

EWT – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I’ve been exposed to EWT for about 10 years and have seen EWT at its best and worst. Here are the top 4 most important facts you should know about EWT:

1) EWT is interpretative. Five different Elliotticians (that’s how followers of EWT call themselves) may have 5 different interpretations of the market’s current whereabouts and next move. Some Elliotticians (example below) know just enough to be dangerous, literally.

2) At certain inflection points the correct interpretation of EWT can be invaluable. It will provide insight no other form of analysis can (see example below).

3) Never use EWT as a stand-alone indicator. I always use EWT (when I use it) in combination with technical support/resistance levels, sentiment and seasonality.

4) EWT has been effective in spotting major market bottoms (with the help of EWT I’ve been able to get my subscribers back into the market in March 2009, October 2011, and June 2012), but rather ineffective in spotting tops.

EWT – The Good

As mentioned above, there’s a time to use EWT and there’s a time to ignore EWT.

One of the more recent times I referred to EWT was via the August 18 Profit Radar Report, which featured the S&P 500 chart below. At the time, EWT strongly suggested that with or without a minor new low, stocks are gearing up for a large rally with a target at 1,685 – 1,706 (open chart gaps) or higher.

Trend lines suggested that the S&P 500 will run out of gas (at least temporarily) at 1,735 (September 18 Profit Radar Report).

Partially based on EWT, subscribers to the Profit Radar Report were advised to go long on August 29 when the S&P 500 triggered a buy signal at 1,642.

EWT – The Bad and The Ugly

EWT is largely based on crowd behavior and social mood, which in turn affects the money flow. However, in recent years the Federal Reserve decided to ‘spike’ the money flow and throw EWT a curveball.

We’ll never know how much the Fed’s easy money policy affects EWT, but we know that since late 2009 some Elliotticians have stubbornly predicted a market crash.

Among them is the world’s largest (according to their claim) independent financial market forecasting firm, Elliott Wave International (EWI). EWI’s message has been the same for years. Below are just a few of EWI’s market crash calls:

August 2010: “Stocks are ready to resume the ongoing bear market. The next phase of selling should be broad-based.”

November 2011: “Short-term positive seasonal biases are now dissipating and an across-the-board decline should draw financial markets lower.”

September 2012: “The stock market’s countertrend rally from June stretched to an extreme. This weak technical condition should lead to an accelerated decline.”

July 2013: “U.S. stock indexes are in the very early stages of a multi-year decline.”

Interpretation Spoils Profits

As mentioned earlier, EWT is subject to interpretation. Just because one Elliottician’s (or company’s) interpretation is wrong doesn’t mean EWT is useless.

The last time the Profit Radar Report looked at EWT was on September 8. At the time the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) was trading at 1,655 and many Elliotticians thought that the market had topped for good.

In contrast, the Profit Radar Report (on September 8) focused attention on a bullish EWT option: “There is one (normally) rare exception that allows for new highs even after a completed 5-wave reversal. In fact, the 5-wave reversals in 2010, 2011, and 2012 all led to new highs. Bullish seasonality starting in October supports this outcome.”

Some Elliotticians are still fishing for a major market top and they may well be right.

However, the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: IVV), Dow Jones, and Nasdaq (Nasdaq: ^IXIC) erased their bearish divergences visible a few weeks ago and seasonality and various breadth measures suggest higher prices later on this year.

The odds of a major market top have dropped a bit, but there will no doubt be time when EWT will provide valuable clues.

Regardless of the next EWT signal, I’ll continue to evaluate the dozens of indicators that make up my forecasting dashboard and share my most valuable findings via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

Follow Simon on Twitter @iSPYETF