QE Haters are Driving Stocks Higher

Stubborn bearish sentiment is one of the key reasons why stocks continue to rally, essentially giving bears the finger. Bears can’t stop the QE liquidity waves. Perhaps it’s time to stop fighting them and learn how to surf them. It would be the best for bears … in two ways.

Bears, if you are looking for someone to blame for having been on the wrong side of the trade – look in the mirror.

Yes, the Federal Reserve’s financial alchemists have artificially engineered this QE bull market and yes, the economy is still lagging.

But that’s not the only reason. The stock market is actually using the bears as a springboard for higher prices.

Stock markets don’t roll over until most of the bears throw in the towel, but bears maintain a tight grip on their bearishness even at their own detriment.

This front-page article featured in the May 5, 2012 edition of USA Today sums the situation up nicely:

“Wall Street’s long-running story about how stocks are the best way to build wealth seems tired, dated and less believable to many individual investors. Playing the market isn’t as sexy as it used to be. Stocks remain out of fashion.”

I remember this time well, because my three key indicators (I call them the three pillars of market forecasting: technical analysis, seasonality and sentiment) were about to line up for a major buy signal.

In a June 3, 2012 update to subscribers I wrote that: “The S&P 500 is within our 1,248 – 1,284 target range for a bottom. Most of my studies suggest higher prices over the coming weeks and a tradable bottom due soon. While June generally falls in the seasonally weak summer period, we find that election year Junes generally sport a strong performance”

The S&P 500 bottomed at 1,266 on June 4, 2012.

Sentiment Sours as Stocks Rally

Since then stocks have rallied and sentiment has soured.

The chart below shows just how stubborn bears are. The S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) soared as much as 36% since its 2012 low, yet the 6-week SMA of bullish investment advisors and newsletter-writing colleagues (polled by Investors Intelligence) is closer to readings seen near bottoms than tops (red circles).

This trend was obvious in early 2013 when the financial media was outright bearish even though the Dow Jones  just pushed to new all-time highs and the VIX (Chicago Options: ^VIX) was lingering near multi-year lows.

Via the March 10, 2013 Profit Radar Report I shared this observation with my subscribers:

“The Dow surpassed its 2007 high and set a new all-time high last week, but investors seem to embrace this rally only begrudgingly and the media is quick to point out the ‘elephant in the room’ – stocks are only up because of the Fed. Below are a few of last week’s headlines:

CNBC: Dow Breaks Record, But Party Unlikely To Last
Washington Post: Dow Hits Record High As Markets Are Undaunted By Tepid Economic Growth, Political Gridlock
The Atlantic: This Is America, Now: The Dow Hits A Record High With Household Income At A Decade Low
CNNMoney: Dow Record? Who Cares? Economy Still Stinks
Reuters: Dow Surges To New Closing High On Economy, Fed’s Help

The market likes to fool as many as possible and it seems that overall further gains would befuddle the greater number. Sentiment allows for further gains.”

Small Correction, Big Effect

The minor summer correction (big black arrow) has suffocated rising optimism before it had a chance to flourish into extremes.

Now, nearly all major US indexes are near all-time highs – the Nasdaq (Nasdaq: QQQ) is outperforming every other broad market index – but sentiment is at best neutral.

From a sentiment analysis point of view, this suggests yet higher stock prices eventually (this doesn’t preclude a deeper correction).

Aside from sentiment, there is an unnoticed but very effective technical pattern that telegraphed the onset of almost every market rally since the 2009 low.

More details about this pattern can be found here:

The Secret QE Bull Market Trade Pattern that Almost Never Fails

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE Newsletter.


Can The Dollar/Stock Correlation Predict The Next Move?

A rising dollar has spelled trouble for stocks for much of the 21st century. Right now the US dollar is sitting right above important long-term support. The odds of a dollar rally are above average. Does that mean lower stock prices? Here’s a detailed look at the correlation between the dollar and stocks.

Everybody (including me) is trying to get a handle on the market they follow, but not ‘all roads lead to Rome’ when it comes to market forecasting.

Some roads (aka market forecasting approaches) are simply dead ends.

Correlations between asset classes and currencies are a legitimate tool to estimate future moves.

One of those relationships is the correlation between stocks and the US dollar.

Theoretically a falling dollar is good for US stocks. Why? A falling dollar makes US products cheaper in foreign countries, which in turn is good for US profits and stocks.

Does the theory hold up in real life?

The first chart below plots the S&P 500 against the PowerShares US Dollar Bullish ETF (NYSEArca: UUP), a proxy of the US dollar.

Obviously, the correlation is an inverse one and somewhat difficult for the untrained eye to detect.

The second chart plots the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) against an inverted UUP. This makes the correlation a bit more apparent. In fact, comparing the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: IVV) to the inverse dollar is almost like comparing it to the euro (NYSEArca: FXE).

The correlation held up for much of July 2008 to November 2011. What happened in November 2011? Operation Twist was reintroduced, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to upset the correlation.

Regardless of the cause, since November 2011 investors haven’t been able to count on the US dollar/stock correlation to predict future moves for either stocks or the dollar.

Still, it is interesting to note that the dollar is close to important long-term support with above average odds of rallying from here. The red boxes in the first chart shows that recent dollar rallies usually turned into speed bumps for stocks.

So, there’s reason in not ignoring the dollars effect on stocks entirely.

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF


A Detailed Look at 5 Different Sentiment Gauges

If you want to know how much money is waiting on the sidelines to drive stocks higher, take a look at various sentiment measures. Combine those sentiment measures with actual money flow gauges and you’ll get a good idea of how much cash is left (or not) waiting to buoy the stock market.

Seasoned investors look at many indicators before making buy/sell decisions. One of them should be sentiment.

My personal ‘three pillars of market forecasting’ are technical analysis, seasonality, and sentiment.

Technical analysis includes trend lines, patterns (like triangle, head-and shoulders, etc.), Fibonacci levels, divergences and so on.

Seasonality includes seasonal patterns and cycles for broad indexes and sometimes individual stocks and sectors.

Sentiment can be subdivided into many segments. I consistently follow more than a dozen sentiment and money flow gauges and regularly chart the following five for Profit Radar Report subscribers:

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX)
CBOE Skew Index
CBOE Equity Put/Call Ratio
% of bullish advisors polled by Investors Intelligence (II)
% of bullish investors polled by the American Association for Individual Investors (AAII)

The chart below is a reprint of the July 25 Sentiment Picture (available to subscribers of the Profit Radar Report).

It plots the S&P 500  against the above-mentioned sentiment gauges.

The VIX (NYSEArca: VXX) continues to linger near a multi-year low. This has been the case for almost a year. Using the VIX to time market highs has been a fool’s errand. We realized that back in November 2012 when the Sentiment Picture ‘quarantined’ the VIX:

“When an indicator doesn’t work, we’ll put it on ‘probation’ until it proves its worth again.” Let’s just say the VIX has continued to be on probabation.

The put/call ratio is a valuable member of the sentiment family. The May 19 Sentiment Picture noted that option traders were finally jumping on the rally bandwagon and warned that: “Risk is rising. A fair portion of current gains should be quickly retraced.” The S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY) quickly lost 7% thereafter before rebounding.

Sentiment polls by Investors Intelligence (II) and the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) are a ‘casualty’ of the QE liquidity market and need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Extreme bullishness reflected in the polls hasn’t had much of an impact on stocks, but bearish extremes have coincided with rallies.

The April 26 Sentiment Picture for example picked up on the extremely bearish AAII poll numbers and the large number of II folks looking for a correction and wrote:

“36% of advisors and newsletter writers polled by Investor’s Intelligence (II) are looking for a correction. Incidentally, that’s exactly what we are expecting. However, the market rarely fulfills the expectation of the masses.” In other words: expect higher prices.

It took years of trial and error to become familiar with the various sentiment gauges and learn how to interpret the different readings. I have found that there’s a difference between sentiment polls and money flow indicators. The equity put/call ratio, for example, is an indicator that shows if investers are really ‘putting their money where their mouth (sentiment polls) is.’

When the put/call ratio finally reached extreme territory in May (and investors started to put their money where their mouth is), the stock market turned sour, at least temporarily. A updated chart and analysis of the equity put/call ratio is available here: “Is a Market Top Near? ‘Smart’ Option Traders Send a Curious Message.

Continuous sentiment analysis is available via the Profit Radar Report.

Are Stocks Overvalued? Yes, According to Dividend Yields

In a world of iPhones, social media, and twitter, it’s easy to forget about time proven market forecasting techniques. But just because there isn’t an app for dividend-based value analysis doesn’t mean it’s not working anymore.

Nobody likes to get trapped. Animals don’t like traps, humans don’t like traps, and investors hate money traps. But how do you distinguish a profit opportunity from a profit trap?

From October 2011 to September 2012 the S&P 500 gained 37%. Was this the beginning of a new bull market or the final leg of the QE bull market?

From March 2009 to September 2012 the S&P 500 soared 121%. Is this rally a new bull market leading to new all-time highs or a monster counter trend rally?

Charles Dow, the founder of the Wall Street Journal and original author of the Dow Theory, said that: “To know values is to know the market.” Yes, valuations might well hold the key to the above questions.

I follow four metrics to determine fair value:

1) Dividend yields
2) P/E ratios
3) The Gold Dow
4) Mutual fund cash levels

A special report analyzing all four valuation metrics was sent out to Profit Radar Report subscribers on Thursday. This article will look at one metric: Dividend yield.

What Dividend Yields Teach about Value

What connection is there between fair value and dividend yields? To illustrate:

Company A trades at $100 a share and pays a dividend of $5 per share. Company A’s dividend yield is 5%.  If company A’s shares soared to $200 a share without dividend increase, the yield will fall to 2.5%.

There’s a direct correlation between a company’s share price and its dividend yield. Higher stock prices lead to lower yields. Low dividend yields are a result of pricey stocks.

Dividend yields are probably the purest measure of valuations. Unlike P/E ratios, they can’t be fudged and massaged (although the current dividend yield is likely inflated by the Fed’s low interest rate policy, which makes it easier for companies to accumulate the cash needed to pay dividends).

Since the year 1900 dividend yields for the S&P 500 have averaged 4.25%. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) currently yields 2.02%, 52.5% below the historic average.

The current yield is much closer to the all-time low of 1.11% (August 2000) than the all-time high of 13.84% (June 1932).

The chart below juxtaposes the S&P 500 (log scale) against dividend yields and shows that every major market top coincided with a yield low, and every major market low coincided with a yield high.

Dividend yields aren’t currently at an extreme that requires an immediate drop in stocks, but they do suggest that stocks are overvalued.

What Does this Mean?

What do low yields mean for investors? Valuation metrics are long-term forecasting tools, they shouldn’t be used to enter or rationalize short-term trades.

The long-term message of dividend yields is that the down side risk is greater than the up side potential. The next big move will likely be on the down side.

The best entry point for long-term trades is usually discovered by shorter-term market timing tools. Every prolonged decline starts on the hourly and daily chart.

The Profit Radar Report monitors long-and short-term market timing indicators to identify low-risk high probability trading opportunities.

Simon Maierhofer shares his market analysis and points out high probability, low risk buy/sell recommendations via the Profit Radar Report. Click here for a free trial to Simon’s Profit Radar Report.