Simon Says: Financial Sector Needs Buffett’s Berkshire More Than Ever

Bank CEOs live in multi-million dollar mansions near Wall Street, Warren Buffett lives in a 56-year old house in Nebraska. Bank CEOs not only need Warren Buffet to polish their image, but being lumped in with Buffett has other benefits.

Huge amounts of Federal Reserve money can ‘buy’ profitability, but not popularity. Just ask Wall Street.

Bailed out conglomerates like Chase, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of America or Wells Fargo are making money hand over fist, but they are not winning any popularity contests.

Fat cat bank CEO’s live in multi-million dollar mansions near Wall Street. In contrast, Warren Buffett still lives in his Nebraska home, purchased for $31,500 in 1958.

The average person can relate to Buffett more easily than James Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein.

Ironically, as the biggest component of the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF), Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B) is lumped in with Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and the usual suspects.

Berkshire accounts for 8.79% of the XLF ETF and carries more weight than any other financial sector constituent. And XLF may need Buffett’s help.

The Financial Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) is at an important juncture right now.

We looked at the similarities between the June and August breakouts (green bubbles) on August 22 (XLF Financial ETF Breaks above Resistance to New 6-year High).

The blue boxes highlight the parallels between the two patterns:

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

My August 22 conclusions was that: “XLF would enjoy limited upside, a consolidation period and another pullback. Resistance right around 23.05 is likely to act as support in the days/weeks to come.”

Support at 23.05 held on September 25, 26 and 29, but broke today. Support will now turn into resistance, and the path is down as long as trade stays below resistance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The blue boxes highlight the similarities between two recent patterns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Despised Sector is Leading Charge into Correction Zone

posted on iSPYETF on 11-23-2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


XLF Financial ETF is Teetering Above Key Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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The XLF Financial ETF Chart Looks Ominously Bearish

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

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

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

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

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

What Does All This Mean?

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

How to Trade

There are two low-risk ways to trade XLF:

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

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

Why Low Risk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More details here: Hank Paulson Warns of Another Financial Crisis

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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S&P Doesn’t Show it, But Stocks’ Performance Has Investors Scared

An analysis of NYSE trading volume provides one of the most intriguing big picture forecasts available to investors today. Trading volume, although not a short-term timing tool, acts like a lie detector.

Technical analysis 101 teaches us that higher prices on rising volume (often considered a break out) are bullish. Rising prices on falling volume or falling prices on higher volume, on the other hand, are bearish.

Low Volume But New Recovery Highs

Volume/price analysis is fractal and can be applied to all time frames. The break out above 1,389 for the S&P 500 Index (SPY) on August 3 happened on low volume. The rally from the June 4 low occurred on low volume and low and behold the rally from the October 2011 low has seen low volume.

Theoretically that’s all bearish, nevertheless the S&P 500 Index (SPY) just saw a 50-month price high as the Nasdaq carved out a 12-year high. Obviously, volume is not a short-term directional indicator.

Does that mean we should dismiss ominous volume patterns? I don’t think so and here’s why:

Stock Market X-ray

Volume, and volume sub studies such as the advance/decline ratio, reveal underlying tendencies that price simply doesn’t reflect. It’s almost like an X-ray for stocks and what this X-ray reveals is extremely interesting and concerning.

The chart below plots trading volume on the NYSE against the S&P 500 (since 2005). The daily gyrations of volume make it tough to discern a trend (the big spikes are usually triple witching days), but the red 50-day SMA shows a clear down trend in market participation.

Why Volume is Low

There are three reasons why trading volume is low:

1) Since the 2007 market top the value of the S&P, Dow Jones, Nasdaq-100, Russell 2000 and pretty much all other indexes has been cut in half, doubled and jumped around like a jittery cursor. Investors simply don’t want to put up with the market anymore. Who can blame them?

2) High-priced stocks like Google and Apple (GOOG and AAPL trade close to $700 a share) contribute to lower share volume. According to Tom McClellan, the median share price of all NYSE-listed and traded issues was $14.50 in 2009. Today it’s $23.50.

3) Summer trading is always slow.

Volume Pattern More Worrisome than Shrinking Volume

More worrisome than shrinking volume is the actual ebb and flow pattern of trading volume. Within the overall down trend in trading volume there are times when volume spikes quite dramatically. Those spikes reveal investors true feelings about stocks.

The chart below plots the S&P 500 against a 10-day SMA of trading volume. Most declines since the 2007 market top have been swift, so a 10-day SMA captures volume increases nicely.

The gray boxes highlight that selling activity increases whenever stocks decline. Numbers don’t lie, and volume is like a lie detector that reveals investors true intentions. On balance investors are more eager to sell into declines than buy into rallies.

What’s the big picture message of trading volume? Prices for the S&P 500, Dow Jones and almost all major market indexes are still below their 2007 high.

This means that the current rally is a counter trend rally, which is confirmed by rising volume when stocks drop and anemic volume when stocks rally.

Obviously, the market’s behavior has been distorted by the record influx of faux Fed money, but volume analysis strongly suggests that the rally from the March 2009 low will remain a counter trend rally. This rally may not be over yet, but it looks more terminal than many believe.

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The Dow Jones – Close to a Once-in-a-Lifetime Signal?

The Dow Jones sports perhaps the most unique constellation of our generation. Constellations don’t make money, buy or sell signals do. The Dow’s constellation may double as a signal and is of importance for investors.

Since the year 2000 we’ve seen the tail end of a technology boom without parallel, the lost decade, the biggest decline and recession since the Great Depression, record monetary intervention and the strongest rally since the Great Depression.

Bulls and Bears can probably agree that we live in unique times. A look at a long-term chart (with long-term I mean going back all the way to 1896) of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – corresponding ETF: Dow Diamonds: DIA) shows just how unique.

The chart below shows the Dow Jones in a monthly log scale. Here are the most salient points:

·      There are two long-term trend channels (dotted grey lines). One stretches from 1903 as far as 1954. The other one starts in 1937 and is still active today.

·      The 50 and 200-month moving average (blue and red line) are on track to cross each other for the first time since the Great Depression.

I find the Dow’s interaction with its trend channel very intriguing. The 1903 – 1954 channel offered support and resistance at no less than seven major turning points.

Most notable is sequence of trend line interaction that occurred following the bust of the 1929 bubble. The Dow sliced back below the upper channel line and continued tumbling below the lower channel line.

This led to a strong rally that once again tested the upper channel line (red arrow). The same thing is happening now. The strong post 2009 rally has lifted the Dow high enough to test trend channel resistance.

In fact, the Dow has been flirting with this upper channel line off and on since late 2010, but hasn’t been able to stay above it for long. Channel resistance is currently around 13,200.

What does this unique constellation mean for investors? Since we are looking at a multi-decade trend line, we can’t use it as a short-term investment tool or signal.

Long-term investors should closely watch the Dow 13,200 range. Based on the 1938 analogy, the likely current is a counter trend and long-term investors should use current prices to unload equities and nibble on short positions.

Financials – Is the Most Despised U.S. Sector Getting Ready to Rally?

Investors are shunning the financial sector. Although financials account for more than 14% of the S&P 500 (SPY), investors (by one measure) have only 2% of their money invested in financials. Some contrarians take this as a buy signal, is it?

Knight Capital, MF Global, LIBOR fixing scandal, JP Morgan losses, excessive Wall Street bonuses … there seem to be unlimited reasons to dislike the financial sector (Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF – XLF).

When it comes to financials, investors are not only talking the talk, they are walking the walk. Right now financials are the most despised sector in the United States. Of the $900 million invested in Rydex sector funds, only $18 million are allocated to financials, that’s just 2%.

However, the financial sector accounts for 14.21% of the S&P 500 Index (SPY), which makes it the second biggest sector of the S&P (behind technology).

Extreme pessimism often results in unexpected price spikes. Is the financial sector getting ready to rally?

The Technical Take on Financials

Financials appear to be at an important short-term juncture, but let’s provide some long-term context before looking at the short-term.

From the 2009 low to the 2011 high, the financial sector (XLF) jumped from $5.88 to $17.20. Before that, XLF dropped from 38.15 to 5.88. Today XLF trades 61% below its all time high price tag of 38.15. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is less than 8% away from its all-time high.

Important short-term resistance for XLF last week was at 14.85. This resistance was made up of the July 3 and 27 highs and a trend line that connects the March 27 and May 1 highs.

On August 8, XLF was able to close above 14.85. Such a break out is generally bullish. However, the volume on which XLF broke out was significantly lower than average (see chart below).

Based purely on the chart and sentiment, the bullish message deserves the benefit of the doubt as long as XLF remains above 14.80. But a break below 14.80 would severely ding the immediate up side potential for XLF.

What about the down side risk? Aggressive investors may decide to sell or go short XLF with a break below 14.80. The initial down side target would be around 14.45 – 14.50.

Using Asset Class Correlations to Predict Stock Market Moves

Every day about a billion shares of stocks exchange hands on the New York Stock Exchange , but stocks are not the only asset class on the planet. Currencies and bonds are part of the same financial eco system, and we shouldn’t ignore their effect on stocks.

There’s a Bavarian saying that encourages people to “look beyond the edge of their own plate.” Translated in investment terms this means to expand your horizon and look at more than just one asset class.

Several times over the last couple of months the S&P 500  (SPY) has been declared “dead”. In fact, a recent CNBC headline said that: “Bill Gross is latest to join ‘stocks are dead’ club.”

The Fed could have jolted the S&P back to life with a dose of QE3, but decided not to. Against all odds, rather than rolling over, stocks have sprung back to life – a case of “dead man walking.”

On July 25, with the S&P trading as low as 1,331, a special Profit Radar Report outlined why stocks are not ready to decline just yet.

The key to this bold forecast was found in the correlation between various asset classes. Below are excerpts from the special July 25 Profit Radar Report.

July 25, Special Report: Asset Class Correlations

Some asset classes boom while others bust and vice versa. For example, bond prices typically rise when stock prices fall. Those types of asset class correlations should be taken into consideration for any market forecast.

Individual outlook for long-term Treasuries: Long-term T’s are butting up against long-term resistance while relative strength (RSI) is lacking price. This suggests that long-term Treasuries are in the process of topping out. Falling Treasury prices typically means rising stock prices.

Individual outlook for the euro: The euro has been trending down since March 2008 and is currently trading just above the June 2010 low. Although euro prices dropped below the June 1, 2012 low, RSI is solidly above the June 1 low. This suggests that the euro is trying to find a bottom that lasts for more than just a few days. Any bounce could gather steam if the euro is able to move above resistance. A strengthening euro is usually good for stocks.

What this means for stocks: If the euro rallies and long-term Treasuries decline, stocks should move higher or at least have a hard time declining.

The chart below shows how the iShares Barclays 20+ Treasury Bond ETF  (TLT) and Currency Euro Trust (FXE) perform during times when the S&P is in an extended up or down trend.

With Treasuries near a top and the euro near a bottom, stocks should rally or at the very least have a hard time declining.