Two Diametrically Opposed Sector Opportunities

The S&P 500 is trading at the same level where it was on July 8. Such a 15-week chop zone is pretty boring, but it doesn’t stop there. The S&P hasn’t made any net progress since May 2015.

When the broad market is stale, it makes sense to look at other opportunities.

The Profit Radar Report always scans various markets and sectors for sentiment extremes or seasonal trades with the potential to provide returns independent of the broad market.

Thus far this year, we’ve found such returns in gold, silver, natural gas, small caps, VIX and the utility sector.

Utilities ETF

The October 12 Profit Radar Report pointed out that every single utility sector stock has been below its 50-day SMA for more than five days. An extremely rare oversold condition.

The October 13 Profit Radar Report observed that: “XLU (Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF) jumped above trend line resistance on strong volume. This increases the odds that some sort of a low is in place. We are buying XLU at 47.80.”

We didn’t want to chase the S&P 500 when it bounced from its 2,120 support level on October 13, but wanted some low-risk exposure to equities.

Being oversold and overhated, XLU fit the bill.

Sometimes there is no particular up side target (as is the case with XLU), but identifying low-risk buying opportunities allows investors to either grab quick gains or hold on and ‘play with house money.’

Bank ETF

The banking sector is approaching a very strong resistance cluster.

The chart of the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) shows price near trend line resistance, 78.6% Fibonacci retracement, and where wave A equals wave C.

Additionally, there was a bearish RSI divergence at the October 27 high.

Seasonality is bearish for the first three weeks of November.

This doesn’t mean that bank stocks will crash, but it certainly indicates that buying KBE right around 35 is a bad idea.

There is no short bank ETF, but traders may consider shorting KBE or buying inverse ETFs like SEF or SKF. This setup may only lead to a short-term correction.

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 Bank ETF Just Erased 18 Months of Gains

Wall Street’s most notorious financial engineers aren’t getting any love from investors lately.

The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) just slipped to the lower end of an 18-month trading range, again.

My December 29 article pointed out that KBE is traded at key resistance around 34 and warned that: “KBE is at an inflection point. Could KBE become the (sector) tail that wags the (broad market) dog?”

KBE is close to support around 31, but a break to at least 29.5 becomes likely if that fails.

Perhaps more intriguing is the long-term correlation between KBE and its cousin the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF).

KBE’s recent reversal below its high kept a divergence alive that proved bearish in 2007. More details here: Bearish Financial Sector Divergence Stokes 2007 Crash Memory (don’t allow the bearish title to scare you … at least not yet).

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.

Simon Says: SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) Gnawing on Key Resistance

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) has been leaping from one new recovery high to the next.

But its Wall Street cousin, the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE), has been stuck in a 12-month trading range.

The chart below plots KBE against XLF. KBE is back at key resistance around 34.

KBE is at an inflection point. Could KBE become the (sector) tail that wags the (broad market) dog?

The December 21 Profit Radar Report showed two S&P 500 projections (one long-term bullish, one short-term bearish) and stated:

Stocks may hit an inflection point once the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 record new all-time highs. Depending on measures of market breadth at the time, we will either scale down (or protect) our long exposure or add to it.”

The S&P and R2K did hit new all-time highs and are close to their inflection point.

I’m not sure if KBE will be the tail that wags the dog, but KBE confirms that the market should be watched carefully for either acceleration or temporary breakdown.

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.

Bearish Financial Sector Divergence Stokes 2007 Crash Memory

Since their inception, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF has almost always confirmed new highs of its cousin, the Select Sector Financial ETF. The only time it didn’t was in 2007 … and today. Here’s what makes this potential repeat intriguing.

For all the Whac-a-Mole bears who’ve been getting clobbered by the omnipresent bull market mallet, there’s finally a faint ray of hope flickering out of the same black hole that caused the last financial meltdown – the financial sector.

True, the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) is humming higher, but the SPDR S&P 500 Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) is not.

To be exact, the KBE bank ETF is trading 6.5% below its March high while the XLF financial ETF has already edged out new recovery highs. That’s unusual.

The chart below shows that since its inception, KBE has confirmed every significant new XLF high (dashed gray lines). Only two exceptions (dashed red lines) created a bearish divergence:

  • May 2007
  • August 2014

Although we don’t need the aid of a chart to remind us of what happened post May 2007, the chart tells us anyway.

Obviously, it would be premature to bunker up and batten down the hatches based on a sample size of one.

Even if the 2007 scenario is playing out again, it’s too early to pencil in a market crash in your 2014 trading calendar. Why?

  1. There’s a grace period between the XLF high and the final S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) high. In 2007, the S&P 500 rally continued five months after XLF topped and the market didn’t enter free fall territory until a year after XLFs all-time high.
  2. XLF just saw a technical breakout. This looks bullish on the chart until proven otherwise. However, the breakout mimics a prior pattern that failed (see “XLF Breaks above Resistance to New 6-year High” for more details).

A small detail many have already forgotten is that the S&P 500 dropped nearly 12% in July/August 2007 just before shooting to its final October hurray.

A similar pullback now would certainly make this financial sector divergence even more intriguing.

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.

Federal Reserve ‘Financed’ 17% of all U.S. Stock Purchases

At one point or another over the last few years we’ve all heard about the bursting Federal Reserve Balance sheet (it’s still growing by the way). However, how big is the Fed’s balance sheet in correlation to the total U.S. stock market? It’s big!

A billion used to be a big number, but ‘billions’ today are outdated like Myspace.

Today we (and with ‘we’ I mean the Federal Reserve) talk in trillions.

The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is about $3.7 trillion. As recently as July 2008 the Fed’s balance sheet was below $900 billion.

Since then the Fed embarked on a little shopping spree (about $3 trillion worth). As it turns out, when the Fed goes shopping, Wall Street goes shopping.

According to the World Bank, the total market capitalization of the U.S. stock market in 2012 was $18.67 trillion (2013 estimate around $21.4 trillion).

Based on preliminary 2013 figures, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet could have bought 17% of all U.S. traded stocks.

The chart below provides a visual as it plots the total annual U.S. stock market capitalization against the S&P 500. According to Standard & Poor’s, there is over $5.14 trillion benchmarked to the S&P 500 index (NYSEArca: SPY).

We know that the Federal Reserve doesn’t directly buy equities (other central banks do), but it may as well have.

The Federal Reserve is pumping about $85 billion of fresh money (about $110 billion total since maturing funds are reinvested) into the ‘economy.’

‘Economy’ sounds better than big banks and financial institutions (the Fed calls them primary dealers, there are 21 such primary dealers, most of them U.S.-based), but that’s where the money is going.

Big banks on the other hand turn around and buy stocks and ETFs – which may include Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF), or SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE), and of course Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (not Myspace).

Aha Moment

We’ve all heard how big the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is before and have gotten used to (and desensitized) to the number.

However, when viewed in comparison to the total market capitalization of all U.S. traded stocks, it becomes obvious just how big a player the Federal Reserve really is.

If you – like me – are fascinated with large numbers, you’ll like this little piece of trivia:

Is it possible to put a price tag on all the assets held in the entire United States of America? Yes it is. In fact, we’ve done this right here (based on Federal Reserve data): How Much is The Entire United States of America Worth?

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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Hank Paulson Warns of Another Financial Crisis

First the Federal Reserve, now former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is warning of a financial ‘firestorm.’ Paulson’s list of worries is long and includes banks, derivatives, shadow banking and Fannie Mae. The dollar stats are truly staggering.

Remember Hank Paulsen? He was the United States Secretary of the Treasury during the financial crisis.

We don’t hear much about him domestically, but he just shared his concerns about another financial crisis with the German finance/economy newspaper Handelsblatt.

Literally translated, Paulson warns of another financial ‘firestorm’ sparked by one of the following factors:

Too big too fail banks, the ballooning derivatives market, hardly regulated but rapidly growing shadow banks, and the growing influence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could trigger another ‘firestorm’ at any moment.

Below are some staggering stats and numbers (source: Handelsblatt newspaper):

Too Big to Fail

The five biggest US banks have amassed $8.3 trillion in assets. That’s $2.5 trillion more than in 2007. The chart below compares the assets the five biggest banks held in 2007 with today. JPMorgan Chase is 74% bigger today than in 2007, BofA 44%, Wells Fargo 177%, and US Bancorp 66%. Only Citigroup has shrunk.

The problem of too big to fail is that any one big bank (NYSEArca: KBE) can light up the entire financial house of cards.

Handelsplatt reports plans of a corporate ‘last will and testament’, where banks have to outline how they can be wound down most efficiently during times of crisis.

Ballooning Derivatives Market

The derivatives market, which sparked the 2007 firestorm, has grown from $586 trillion in 2007 to almost $633 trillion today and is largely unregulated.

Regulators would like to funnel derivatives transactions through clearinghouses in an effort to increase transparency. Clearinghouses are also supposed to take the hit if any of the involved parties bites the dust. This, however only shifts the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Shadow Banks

With assets of $67 trillion (growing rapidly), the shadow banking sector is already half as big as the ‘regulated’ (if you can call it that) banking sector.

Unlike regulated banks, shadow banks (hedge funds, private equity funds, money market fund) are not subject to capital requirements. This is attractive if you’re greedy. That’s why many players leave the regulated market place in favor of more convenient shadow banking.

A positive; G20 members agreed at the recent summit in St. Petersburg to figure out a way to control shadow banking by 2015. Note the wording. Not to control, but find out how to control.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Are Growing

Not only are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac government controlled, they are more dominant then ever before. 90% of US mortgages are currently guaranteed by the government.

This means that the government, not the free market, determines the price, terms and conditions of mortgages. The lack of free market forces (such as supply and demand) exposes the mortgage/real estate market to renewed excesses.

Hank Paulson observed that every financial crisis is the result of failed political measures, which lead to economic/financial bubbles.

The whole financial leverage subject is a mind over matter issue. Investors don’t mind until it matters.

Investors at large were blindsided by the 2007 financial debacle. Excess leveraged mattered only after the S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq started to tumble and not a moment before.

Bernie Madoff’s investors got bamboozled for years before it mattered. The scam was there all along, but it didn’t blow up until Wall Street got hit.

Bear markets are the best auditors. They reveal things first. The media follows thereafter.

When will the above excesses start to matter again?

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) sports a pretty clear pattern and a specific break down point that – once triggered – should get investors (and the media’s) attention and lead to much lower prices and a more critical examination of banking/financial excesses.

A detailed analysis of the financial sector can be found here: The XLF Financial ETF Chart Looks Ominously Bearish

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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Dow Jones Component Reshuffle is Bearish for Stocks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is about to undergo the most significant changes in a decade. The featured chart shows that S&P Dow Jones Indexes usually gets the timing of its changes wrong. Furthermore, the ‘New Dow’ will be subject to the whims of the most vulnerable sector of the US economy.

Good-bye Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America, and Alcoa. Hello Nike, Goldman Sachs, and Visa.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is undergoing its most dramatic facelift in a decade and will morph into a much more financial sector focused average. The changes will go into effect September 20, 2013.

I see the following risks short and long-term:

Short-term Reshuffling Risks

In recent years reshuffling components was followed by temporary corrections. The weekly DJIA chart below chronicles changes and the effect on the Dow since February 2008 (there was no change from November 2005 – February 2008).

The short-term performance immediately following the shuffle was generally negative, although the losses were limited. Long-term was in line with random.

Long-term Reshuffling Risks

S&P Dow Jones Indexes, a subsidy of McGraw-Hill (which is also the parent company of Standard & Poor’s and J.D. Power and Associates), dropped one financial name (BofA) from the mighty Dow and added two (Goldman Sachs and Visa).

But the exposure to financials is more significant than even the two for one swith suggests. Why?

The Dow Jones (NYSEArca: DIA) is a price-weighted gauge, that’s why it’s called an average not an index. Price-weighted simply means that the stock with the biggest price tag carries the most weight. Currently that’s IBM. At $190 a share IBM accounts for 9.43% of the DJIA and is the unquestioned VIP (Chevron, the ‘runner up,’ trades at $123).

Soon to be deleted Bank of America trades at $14.50 and accounts for 0.74% of the index (keep in mind that the index has only 30 components). That means that BAC would have to move 13 times as much as IBM to match IBM’s effect on the average.

Currently financials are the fifth biggest sector of the DJIA and account for only 11.39%. Here’s where it gets interesting:

Visa trades at $186 and Goldman Sachs at $165. The top three holdings of the Dow Jones will be IBM, Visa and Goldman Sachs. Based on a quick thumbnail assessment, financials will soon be the biggest sub-sector of the Dow with an allocation around 25%.

We shouldn’t forget that the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEArca: XLF) and SPDR S&P Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) lost 85% from 2007 to 2009, significantly underperforming the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY), which was down ‘only’ 57%.

So the heavy financial weighting of the Dow can be a negative.

In fact, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson mentioned in a guest contribution for a German finance and economy newspaper that he fears yet another financial ‘firestorm’ (firestorm is the term he used).

According to Paulson the financial sector is quite vulnerable. This article explains in detail the problem Paulson warns of: Hank Paulson Warns of Another Financial Crisis.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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