Finding an Edge in a Dull Stock Market

How to gain an edge:

A bear jumps out of a bush and starts chasing two hikers. They both start running for their lives, but then one of them stops to put on his running shoes. “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!” says one hiker, the other one replies: “True, but I don’t have to outrun the bear; I only have to outrun you!”

What’s the point? The market is the composite opinion of all other investors. In essence, you beat ‘the market’ (aka the ‘bear’) by knowing more than your fellow investors (aka the other ‘hiker’). Knowledge is the edge.

I consistently follow dozes of different indicators, which fall into one of these four categories:

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

When all or most indicators point in the same direction, there’s a good chance stocks will move in that very direction. I call this a high probability trade.

The last such signal occurred in December, when liquidity, sentiment, technicals and seasonality pointed higher. The bullish weight of evidence, at that time, was discussed in this article: Is the Bear Market Over?

Since then, the S&P 500 has gained more than 20%. How much further can stocks rally?

Investor Sentiment

Some sentiment gauges show elevated optimism, but considering the strong Q1 2019 performance, overall sentiment is surprisingly subdued. Shown below is a selection of six different sentiment indicators. None of them shows an extreme reading. Without extremes, sentiment doesn’t provide an edge. It is possible for stocks to move higher.

Technical analysis

Short-term: The S&P 500 is nearing over-bought and is facing mild resistance. The chart below highlights trend line resistance and horizontal volume resitance (volume by price not date) for the S&P 500 futures. Now doesn’t appear to be the time to chase price.

Longer-term: The trend is your friend, but the risk of being ‘un-friended’ exists, and it’s difficult to find low-risk entries in an market that’s driven by momentum, but on the edge of being over-extended.

Elliott Wave Theory, the most exotic tool in the technical analysis tool box, is up to interpretation and of little help (more details here).

Supply & demand

Liquidity continues to flow into US stocks. Uncertainty in the European Union and money on the sidelines in the US are a likely cause for the continued inflows. My favorite liquidity indicator suggested throughout 2016, 2017, and 2018 that new all-time highs will be reached, and that message continues to be the same.

Seasonality & cycles

Bullish mid-term election year seasonal forces, discussed here, appeared late, but they did show up.

Based on mid-term seasonality, more gains are likely, but general S&P 500 seasonality is entering a higher risk window.

Cycles are conflicting.

Summary

There are times when most indicators point in the same direction (as in December), making a directional forecast easy.

And there are also times when indicators are in conflict, such as now.

That doesn’t mean we are left entirely clueless. Based on the market’s pattern in early March, we expected the S&P 500 to see-saw across obvious resistance at 2,815 and secondary resistance at 2,830. The S&P spent two weeks doing just that. But in order to unlock lower targets, it would have had to break below 2,785, which it didn’t.

Periods of relative uncertainty are always frustrating, but two things should be kept in mind:

  1. It’s good to know when visibility is limited and act accordingly. Would you trust on Uber driver who’s speeding in the fog? Can you trust an analysts who’s ignorant of ,or over confident in periods of uncertainty? Knowing there is no edge, is an edge in itself.
  2. Periods of uncertainty always end!

And when certainty returns, the Profit Radar Report will be there.

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 evaluation 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, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

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

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How to Predict a Market Crash

Although I warned of an environment where the risk of a meltdown is high (wave 3 down, based on Elliott Wave Theory), I can’t claim credit for predicting the December crash.

Because of my multi-indicator approach to market forecasting, and profound concern for my subscriber’s portfolio’s, I rarely ever make absolute one-directional predictions based on only one indicator.

Absolute Predictions

There are plenty of absolute and unequivocal predictions out there. Such ‘hit or miss’ or ‘all or nothing’ bets are great when they work out (and like gambling, sometimes they do), but cause excruciating pain when they don’t.

Below are a few examples of recent all or nothing predictions:

December 6: “The last great buying opportunity of the decade is here!”

December 10: “Keep cool! S&P 500 & Nasdaq holding above lows. Signal is bullish!”

December 19: “ All structural criteria is in place to create a POWERFUL 1-2 week rally”

My favorite: May 14, 2018 (and virtually every day since 2011): “I think it likely that the rally is ending today” (red arrows added to show implications of wave 2 top, and subsequent wave 3 decline)

I found in my research that the only folks who ‘predicted’ the December meltdown, are those we’ve been spewing doom and gloom for years (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

My Promise

My intent is not to discredit the above services, but to highlight the flaws of tunnel vision research. That is, research based on only one indicator or one methodology.

Before publishing the Profit Radar Report (many, many years ago), I lost a lot of money by trusting one single indicator (which at the time had a good track record). Back then, I took off my ‘research blinders,’ and vowed to expand my research horizon.

Better Diversification

Diversification is a popular term in the investment world, and it’s almost exclusively linked to asset allocation. But what about research diversification?

Just as a diversified portfolio smoothes out individual boom and bust cycles, research diversifcation eliminates the ‘hit or miss’ performance tied to any one single indicator.

Multi-indicator Approach

My goal is to distill and compress the message of various indicators (such as: investor sentiment, money flow, breadth, technical analysis, price patterns, seasonality, etc.) into the most likely path going forward, the direction suggested by the weight of evidence.

For example, on October 28, when the S&P 500 first fell into the 2,600s, I published the weight-of-evidence-based projection (yellow lines) along with the below commentary via the Profit Radar Report:

The biggest potential ‘fat pitch’ trades are to go short above 2,830 (red box) or buy at the second low (green box).”

The yellow lines projected a move from 2,600 to ~2,850, followed by a drop to ~2,400.

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

Crash Environment Alert

Starting on December 9, I warned subscribers that a wave 3 crash is a possibility. For example, the December 9 Profit Radar Report stated that:

Based on Elliott Wave Theory, the S&P 500 could be 1) nearing the exhaustion point of this down leg, or 2) be in a strong and sustained wave 3 lower. Scenario #2 seems more likely.”

The December 17 Profit Radar Report reiterated the following:

Based on Elliott Wave Theory, both options discussed on December 9:

1) Washout decline with target of 2,550 – 2,500 (or 2,478 as per Sunday’s PRR)

2) Accelerating wave 3 lower (which could erase another 10% fairly quickly)
are still alive
.”

In case you are new to Ellliott Wave Theory (one of the many indicators of the multi-indicator approach), here is a description of a wave 3:

Wave 3 is the longest and most powerful of all Elliott Waves. Wave 3 continues to move higher (or lower) despite overbought (or oversold) momentum and sentiment readings. A common target for wave 3 is a Fibonacci 1.618 of wave 1 (which currently is 2,269 for the S&P 500).

Pros and Cons

One ‘drawback’ of the multi-indicator approach is that you will rarely hear a flashy ‘all or nothing’ call.

The benefit is that you will rarely be on the losing end of such a call. The multi-indicator approach does however, outline when the risk of a crash or the potential of a spike is elevated.

And perhaps most importantly, there are times when nearly all indicators point in the same direction to form a potent and very reliable buy/sell signal (such as in March 2009, October 2011, February 2016).

Based on what I’m seeing right now, it seems like we are nearing such a signal.

The latest S&P 500 forecast is available here: Short-term S&P 500 Update

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 evaluation 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, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

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

Short-term S&P 500 Update

2018 has been a year of extremes. The year started with stocks becoming extremely over-bought, and ended with stocks getting extremely over-sold.

In fact, 2018 hosted the worst December performance since 1931.

The December 23 Profit Radar Report stated that:

We are likely in an environment where pessimism can become even more extreme, but those extremes can cause violent 1 – 5 day spikes. In terms of seasonality, a Santa Clause Rally (last 5 days of 2018, and first 2 days of 2019), occurs 73.5% of the time (since 1970). The odds of a multi-day rally – within a longer down trend – are elevated.”

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

Over the next two days, the S&P 500 dropped to 2,347 (the lowest level since May 2017), and thereafter jolted 5% higher, in a single day.

How does this rally (up to 174 points in 3 days) fit into the larger picture?

The DJIA already reached its ideal down side target (21,700, which is where wave 3 or c equals 1.618 x wave 1 or a).

The S&P 500 has not yet reached its ideal down side target (2,269, which is where wave 3 or c equals 1.618 x wave 1 or a). However, the S&P bounced from 2,349, where wave 3 or c equals 1.382 x wave 1 or a).

In other words, we are dealing with a measure of conflict:

  • The DJIA already reached it’s down side target, the S&P 500 did not.
  • Sentiment at the December 26 low was extremely compressed, which allows for a larger bounce.

How do we resolve the conflict?

The December 30 Profit Radar Report published the chart below, which illustrates the ideal outcome, along with the following commentary:

The S&P 500 has not reached the 161.8% Fibonacci projection level (2,269), which as a common down side target for waves 3. Unless the S&P closes above Friday’s high (2,520), we assume that we’ll see new lows.”

The above path is still in harmony with the outlook published in the October 28, 2018 Profit Radar Report, which projected (yellow lines, chart below) a rally from 2,600 to 2,850 (in October/November) followed by a drop to about 2,400 thereafter.

Obviously there has been much flux and volatility, and trading this market comes with a fair amount of risk.

But, where there’s risk, there is usually opportunity, and if the S&P follows our path, hits our down side target while over-sold and with bullish divergences, we will want to buy.

Continued 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 evaluation 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, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

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

This is Probably the Most Important Seasonal Pattern of 2018

Seasonality is one of 4 key indicators we analyze (the other 3 are: Money flow, technicals, and investor sentiment). Out of many seasonal patterns, this is probably the most important one for all of 2018.

The 2018 S&P 500 Forecast (part of the Profit Radar Report) highlighted this seasonal pattern (and chart):

2018 is a mid-term year (based on the 4-year presidential election year cycle. Historically, stocks rally from the mid-year (2018) low to the pre-election year (2019) high (on average 50%). The average S&P 500 gain over the last 5 cycles was 36.8% (see chart for individual cycle gains).

Historically (going back to 1950), stocks fall about 20% into the mid-term (2018) low. The average S&P 500 loss from the preceding high to the mid-term low over the last 5 cycles was 18.41%. However, the 2002 loss was unusually large (34.54%). Excluding 2002, the average loss over the last 4 cycles was 14.38%.”

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

From the January high to the February low, the S&P 500 lost as much as 12.26%.

This is close to the average loss of 14.38% mentioned above.

Based on this seasonal pattern, we should be looking for two developments:

  1. A buyable bottom
  2. A multi-month rally

Continuous updates will be 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.

Are Stocks Quietly Deteriorating or Revving up for More Gains?

Every major market index has been marching to the beat of their own drum.

The Nasdaq-100 just slid to the lowest level since May 18, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) set a new all-time (intraday) high just on Monday. The S&P 500 is about a percent below its all-time high.

Some reason that there’s no longer enough liquidity to buoy the whole market.

This begs the question, if all this range bound churning is a sign of internal deterioration (and the ‘inevitable’ drop) or if stocks are just taking a breather and revving up for the next spurt higher?

KISS – Bottom Line

The May 29, 2017 Profit Radar Report already observed this: “There are times when indicators line up and we discuss (high) probabilities, and there are times when indicators conflict, and we are forced to discuss possibilities. Unfortunately the later is the case right now.

Each of the major indexes is tracing out a different EWT pattern, breadth measures, seasonality and investor sentiment do not offer a clear message. Therefore we are reduced to dealing with possibilities.

The weight of evidence suggests that in the not so distant future stocks will run into some trouble. The up side target for the S&P 500 is 2,450 – 2,530. The S&P 500, Russell 2000, DJIA and Nasdaq-100 are all overbought, but above short-term support. As long as this support holds, more gains are likely.”

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.

Not Exciting, but Effective

Ever since we’ve been watching support (which has been at 2,420 for the S&P 500) as stocks have gone nowhere. It should be noted that the 2,420 support level is becoming too obvious and therefore less important. The June 25 Profit Radar Report stated that: “A move below 2,420 (especially 2,400) would increase the odds that a multi-week/month top is in.”

Watching support (and resistance) is not the most exciting approach to market forecasting, but there are times where it’s best to realize there are no clear signals (such as in May), and simply wait for the market to offer the next actionable clue.

This approach protects against overtrading or the anxiety associated with a non-performing (or worse, losing) trade. In short, it provides a measure of peace of mind, a rare commodity in this market.

Summary

Mid-and long-term, our comprehensive S&P 500 forecast remains on track.

Short-term, we are waiting if the S&P pushes deeper into the 2,450 – 2,530 target zone, or if the June 19 high at 2,454 was the beginning of a more protracted (but temporary correction).

Whichever direction the market breaks, it will eventually be reversed. Ideally, we are looking to sell the rips (above 2,454 if we get it) and buy the eventual dip (although this dip may last longer than many expect).

Continued 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.

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.

 

Comprehensive S&P 500 Analysis Reveals Longevity of this Rally

The S&P 500 has soared almost 10% since Election Day. This move has been dubbed the Trump rally or Trump bump.

The media is quick to slap a label on an event (especially after the fact), but lest we forget that the media, analysts and pundits a) did not see a DJ Trump win and b) expected a market crash in the unlikely event of a DJ Trump win.

Key stock market indicators strongly suggested prior to the election that stocks would rally regardless of the election outcome (the four most powerful stock market indicators are discussed in detail here).

Here is what indicators said before the election, and what they are still telling us today:

Money Flow

The stock market is a supply and demand-based market place, that’s why money flow is one of the most important indicators. Falling demand will eventually be followed by falling prices and vice versa.

The September 25 Profit Radar Report published the chart below. The dark and light blue graphs make up our favorite money flow indicator (two versions of the same indicator). This indicator has correctly foreshadowed the 1987, 2000 and 2007 bear markets and projected higher prices since 2009 (except for a brief ‘caution’ signal in 2015). The indicator and its track record is discussed in detail here.

Out of respect for paying subscribers (who know the indicator’s real name), we will call this indicator ‘secret sauce.’

On September 22, the ‘secret sauce’ money flow indicator (blue graphs) rallied to new all-time highs even though the S&P 500 did not. This was to be longer-term bullish, because rising demand was to be followed by rising prices.

The percentage of stocks above their 50-day SMA (purple graphs) did not confirm the new ‘secret sauce’ highs. This suggested short-term weakness.

The September 25 Profit Radar Report concluded the following: “Longer-term: We are still looking for the S&P 500 to reach our long-standing up side target around 2,300. Short-term: We are waiting whether the S&P will break below 2,119 prior to moving higher.”

Investor Sentiment

Investors have been predominantly bearish throughout this bull market. Based on bearish investor sentiment (bullish for stocks), we never wavered from our position that a major market top is not visible.

For example, the Profit Radar Report’s 2016 S&P 500 Forecast stated back in January that: “Investor sentiment near the May 2015 all-time highs was not as euphoric as at prior tops and not bullish enough for a major market top.”

The January 29 Profit Radar Report, however, pointed out bearish sentiment extremes (bullish for stocks) and noted that: “The pessimistic extremes were relieved enough to allow for another drop lower in the coming days. A drop lower is not required, but would be a good buying opportunity if it happens.”

The buying opportunity appeared in February, when the S&P 500 dropped into the low 1,800s.

The most recent comprehensive sentiment update (November 27 Profit Radar Report) compared current sentiment with the 2015 S&P 500 highs (see chart below).

The conclusion: “On average, investors today are still not as bullish as one would expect at a major market top. This allows for, and suggests, further gains in the months to come.”

Technical Analysis

The August 28 Profit Radar Report showed three uber-bullish forward projections (shown here) and stated that: “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 June breadth thrust is discussed in detail here: 2016 Bear Market Risk is Zero Based on this Rare but Consistent Pattern

A detailed technical analysis and Elliott Wave Theory-based outlook is available here: S&P 500 Update – Expect the Abnormal (the ‘abnormal’ refers to continuous gains despite overbought conditions).

Seasonality

S&P 500 seasonality is bullish for the entire fourth quarter into the New Year.

Conclusion

All important indicators pointed higher before the election. The question was only how much of a pullback and how deep of a shakeout move we’ll get prior to the melt up. “The question therefore is not if stocks will rally, but when they will rally” was the conclusion shared in this MarketWatch article.

An indicator-based investment approach is superior to a news-based approach.

Using multiple credible and time-tested indicators further enhances results, especially when all indicators point in the same direction (such as before the election).

The image below illustrates how the odds of a winning trade are improved by a multi-indicator approach.

This doesn’t guarantee a profitable trade, but Profit Radar Report subscribers rarely ever find themselves on the wrong side of the trade.

Short-term, the market is overbought and over-loved and may pull back, but the bullish longer-term factors present months ago (aside from sentiment) remain valid.

Continuous updates with actual buy/sell recommendation 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.