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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Leading U.S. Sector ETFs Send Mixed Messages

Every bull market is built on the shoulders of strong leading sectors. Things tend to get dicey when the leading sectors start to lag. Here’s a look at three leading sector ETFs and some interesting developments.

Looking at leading or lagging sectors can provide clues about the overall health of a bull market.

This article will look at three leading sectors.

Retail Sector – SPDR S&P Retail ETF

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEArca: XRT) soared 42.29% in 2013 and was heading for a strong finish (many thought). Retailers love the holidays (November/December), but the 2013 holiday period wasn’t kind to retailers.

As the XRT chart shows, retailers topped in the last week of November and are threatening to break below green support.

A breakdown around 83.50 and 80 for XRT would spell trouble.

Financial Sector – Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF

The financial sector has been leading the S&P 500 for much of 2013 and confirmed Wednesday’s new S&P 500 high (XLF closed 2013 with a 35.52% gain).

Unlike the S&P 500, the financial select sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is trading well below its all-time high. In fact, it is bumping against 50% Fibonacci retracement resistance at 22.01.

It will take sustained trade above 22.01 to unlock higher up side targets.

Small Cap Stocks – iShares Russell 2000 ETF

Small cap stocks tend to outperform large cap stocks in December/January, but the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: IWM) has been on fire almost non-stop, up 38.69% in 2013.

Next notable resistance for IWM is around 119 (2002 Fibonacci projection).

Corresponding resistance for the Russell 2000 Index is at 1,166. Unlike IWM, the Russell 2000 Index is already trading above this resistance.

Summary

It’s said that a fractured market is a sick market. We are certainly seeing some ‘unhealthy’ divergences between the various leading sectors (this doesn’t even take into consideration the most recent Dow Theory divergence).

However, XLF and the Russell 2000 Index are at the verge of overcoming their resistance levels. A strong financial sector and small cap segment could also buoy the S&P 500.

The strong 2013 performance of all three leading sectors begs the question if there’s any ‘gas left’ for 2014. The following articles takes a look at how much up side is left:

Did the Strong 2013 Market Cannibalize 2014?

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (stocks, 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.

Buying Climaxes Soar – Are Stocks Moving from Strong to Weak Hands?

Buying climaxes occur when a stock (or index) makes a 52-week high, but closes the week with a loss. Prior spikes in buying climaxes have usually preceded weak stock prices. This week saw another buying climax extreme.

The last time we looked at buying climaxes was on May 28, 3013. At that time there were 864 buying climaxes in one week.

Over the next month the S&P 500 (SNP: ^GSPC) lost as much as 114 points (6.8%).

Buying climaxes take place when a stock makes a 52-week high, but closes the week with a loss.

According to Investors Intelligence (II), which tracks buying climax data, they are a sign of distribution and indicate that stocks are moving from strong hands to weak ones.

The last two weeks saw back-to-back readings of 386 and 380 buying climaxes, the second highest selling activity in 2013.

The chart below shows the number of buying climaxes with an overlay of the S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY).

The small cap sector (NYSEArca: IJR) and interest rate sensitive sectors such as financials (NYSEArca: XLF) saw a large concentration of buying climaxes.

A substantial increase in buying climaxes doesn’t always result in falling stock (NYSEArca: IWM) prices, but it is an obvious warning.

Buying climaxes aren’t the only red flag. A number of sentiment polls have reached multi-month, multi-year, and record extremes.

Those shouldn’t be ignored, because the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are in a technical ‘make it or break it’ zone.

The following article reveals the more than decade long resistance levels stocks are struggling to surpass.

Nasdaq and S&P 500 Held Back by ‘Magic Resistance’”

Simon Maierhofer is the publisher of the Profit Radar Report.

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

Weekly ETF SPY: XLF – Ticks Away from New 48-Months High

The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (SPY) and entire financial sector are quietly closing in on a 48-month high. Buoyed by Bernanke, rising interest rate margins, and technicals, how high can financials fly?

It’s been a little while since we looked at the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF). The March 15, Weekly ETF SPY featured a long-term chart of XLF that showed a broad support/resistance range.

The daily XLF chart below includes the same support/resistance range (red bar). This range halted the XLF rally in March and April 2013 and proved support for the recent correction.

The fact that XLF didn’t drop below the ‘red box’ was one of the reasons I didn’t trust the latest correction. XLF found support where it should have.

As of today, XLF is just ticks away from eclipsing its May 22 high. A spike above would result in the highest reading since September 2008, 48 months ago.

Once the May 22 hurdle is cleared, there is no real resistance until the 50% Fibonacci retracement of the points lost from May 2007 to March 2009 at 22.

What is worrisome and can be indicative of a ‘last hurrah rally’ is the significant lag of RSI since its high watermark in September 2012 (red dot).

The last leg of the big XLF rally started when sentiment surrounding the financial sector reached a significant low (green dot). At that time, on August 5, 2013, the Profit Radar Report wrote:

“Financials account for 14.21% of the S&P 500, which makes them the second biggest sector of the S&P 500 (behind technology) and worth a closer look. The SPDR Financial Sector ETF (XLF) is butting up against minor trend line resistance at 14.90 and the previous June/July highs at 14.85.

Financials are currently under loved (who can blame investors). Of the $900 million invested in Rydex sector funds, only $18 million (2%) are allocated to financials.

With such negative sentiment a technical breakout (close above 14.90) could cause a quick spike in prices.”

A similar bullish sentiment extreme would be a welcome tell tale for a future selling opportunity. Perhaps we’ll see that closer to 22.

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The Economy’s ‘Bread and Butter’ Sector is Back in Recession

The Federal Reserve has ‘manufactured’ a relentless bull market for stocks while kicking the economy’s ‘bread and butter’ sector – manufacturing – into recession territory. Manufacturing activity is at a 42-month low, stocks at an all-time high. What gives?

On the first business day of each month the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) releases the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, also known as ISM Manufacturing Index.

The forecast for May called for a reading of 53, but 49 is what we got. This is the worst ISM headline print since June 2009.

We hear the headline print report every month, but what does it (49 this month) mean anyway?

The Manufacturing ISM Report on Business is based on the responses of member purchasing and supply executives from around the country.

Survey responses reflect the monthly change, for each of the following indicators: New orders, backlog of orders, new export orders, imports, production, supplier deliveries, inventories, customers’ inventories, employment and prices.

The resulting single diffusion index number reflects the percentage of positive response from the segments that qualify for seasonal adjustments (new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries). For May that number was 49. Any print below 50 indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally declining.

Stocks and Manufacturing Out of Sync

A declining manufacturing economy doesn’t automatically translate into lower stock prices. As the chart illustrates, a contracting manufacturing economy from 2004 – 2007 didn’t deter the S&P 500 from soaring to the 2007 high.

The same thing happened from 2011 – 2013. The S&P 500 (corresponding ETF: SPDR S&P 500 ETF – SPY) and all major market indexes (with exception of the Nasdaq) are now trading near all-time highs, the ISM manufacturing index at a 42-month low.

There’s one major difference between the 2004 – 2007 and 2011 – 2013 period:

Prior to 2007 the Federal Reserve didn’t spend trillions of dollars to prop up the economy.

I don’t use the ISM Manufacturing Index as a leading indicator for stocks. Based on Monday’s strong rally despite a weak ISM reading, the stock market cares as much (or little) about the manufacturing data as I do.

A Price to Pay … Eventually

A strong manufacturing sector is as vital to a healthy economy as a strong heart for the body. If the heart is weak, the body suffers … eventually.

If the manufacturing sector is weak, the economy suffers … eventually. When the economy suffers, the stock market declines … eventually.

The divergence between stocks and the ISM Manufacturing Sector was dissolved in 2007/08 when the S&P lost about half of its value.

The key question with all things QE is this: When will the Fed ‘manufactured’ bull market backfire? Answer: Eventually? Question: When is eventually?

It’s the mission of the Profit Radar Report to identify major turning points for the stock market and to quantify what exactly ‘eventually’ means.

Earnings Euphoria: Precursor to Bearish Mean Reversion?

Corporate America has never before seen higher profits than now. Are healthy profits a reflection of a healthy economy or have earnings reached a point of unsustainability?

In good old times past it used to be that when complacency reigns on Wall Street, investors get wet. It’s different in a QE world; When complacency reigns, investors get wet eventually. Are investors complacent?

Bloomberg reports: “With 72% of earnings exceeding analysts’ estimates, it may be difficult for U.S. stocks not to reach a record in 2013. The S&P 500 is poised to recover fully from the financial crisis that began almost six years ago.”

According to 11,000 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, profits of S&P 500 companies are expected to exceed $1 trillion this year, 31% more than when the gauge peaked. Bloomberg calls this the “biggest expansion in profits since the technology bubble of the 1990s.”

This is a bold statement. There was not only the earnings explosion of the late 1990s, there was also the financial leverage earnings explosion of the mid 2000s. In 2007, earnings of the financial sector (corresponding ETF: Financial Select Sector SPDR – XLF) accounted for over 40% of all U.S. profits.

It’s hard to believe that S&P 500 earnings today are 77.6% higher than at the 2000 peak and 10.3% higher compared to the prior 2007 all-time high.

A voice of reason often tends to get over looked in an unreasonable world, but the chart below reminds us of unpopular past realities. Mean reversion took many by surprise and earnings peaks turned into stock market peaks.

What do earnings tell us about stocks? Corporate earnings aren’t a short-term timing tool and shouldn’t be used as such, but record earnings sow the seeds for subsequent declines.

The S&P is currently trading just above a major long-term support/resistance level. As long is it remains above support, stocks may grind higher, but a trip below may quickly turn into a fast and furious decline.

The Profit Radar Report highlights the support and risk management levels needed to avoid a surprise move.

Bi-Polar Technology Sector is Torn By Performance of Groupon, Facebook and Apple

About 18 months ago stocks were fueled by the Facebook, Groupon, and the smart phone app frenzy (i.e. Angry Birds). None of the above companies are actually included in the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF, but the prospect of a new tech boom was enough to lift the entire sector.

And while the technology sector has continued to move higher, it has left Facebook, Groupon and others in the dust. Why? Allow me to republish some research notes previously reserved for subscribers.

Facebook Warning: Published May 11, 2012

“Facebook (FB) is expected to go public on Friday, May 19. The media will gladly spread the frenzy, but I’d like to point out a few nuggets to put Facebook’s insane valuation into perspective:

– Assuming a valuation of $100B, FB will trade at 33x advertising revenues. Google trades at 5.5x.

– At $100B, FB will be worth more than: Caterpillar, American Express, Home Depot, Walt Disney and even McDonalds. In fact, 15 components of the mighty Dow Jones Industrial Average have a market cap of less than $100B.

– The market value of Google at its IPO was “only” $27B

– Apple currently trades around 3.8x sales. The same metric applied to FB would put its valuation at $15B.

To some degree the social media bubble is reminiscent to the 1999 tech boom. Most social media companies are valued based on promises more than established accounting standards. Recent IPO’s of Groupon, Pandora, Yelp, and Zynga created a lot of hope during the first couple of days of the IPO and fizzled thereafter.

Will FB await the same fate? You can’t predict the extent of any frenzy, but the amount of fizzled frenzies dwarfs that of sustainable ones. My bold prediction is that FB will loose at least 30% of its IPO price by sometime in 2013.”

Well, it turns out I was wrong. Since its May 2012 IPO ,Facebook shares have fallen as much as 61% (from a high of $45 to a low of $17.55). Facebook’s market cap is now $44 billion.

Groupon Warning: Published December 17, 2010

It was my belief that the Groupon movement (group coupons) is dangerous for the economy and unsustainable. This was contrary the most of Wall Street‘s outlook. I picked on James Altucher, a popular tech cheerleader, to contrast our difference of opinions.

“Altucher doesn’t believe there’s a new social media/coupon bubble. This time is different because Groupon’s rejection of Google’s $6 billion bid is ‘the dawn of a new and improved internet bubble. Unlike the bubble of the late 90s, though, this one is based on fundamentals, not irrational exuberance’.

It’s ironic that Groupon’s success and refusal of Google’s advance is seen as the dawn of a new era. Groupon has a killer business model, which is a goldmine for Groupon, but poison for healthy economic growth.

This new way of buying nurtures frugality and robs restaurants and other retail stores of their pricing power. Groupon is feasting on a deflationary trend while wizards like Altucher see the company as a gateway to the new and improved economy.

According to Altucher this is ‘not a bubble, it’s a real significant boom.’ It’s a boom all right, we’ll just have to see whether it’s an economic or deflationary boom. My money is on the later.”

Since its November 2011 IPO Groupon shares have fallen from a high of $31.14 to a low of $4. Groupon’s current market cap is $3 billion, half of what Google was willing to pay for the company.

Technology Sector at 11+ Year High. Why?

The Facebook, Groupon, smart phone app boom is deflated, so why has the tech sector moved on to an 11+ year high?

A look at the top holdings of the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) may hold the answer.

Apple, IBM, and Google account for 34% of XLK and trade at or near all-time highs.

Microsoft, AT&T, and Verizon account for 19% of XLK and, like the Nasdaq-100, trade at or near a 10-year high.

Former highflyers like Cisco, EMC, Hewlett Packard, Corning, Yahoo, Broadcom, Dell, Applied Materials, Sandisk, Juniper Networks and others continue to trade near the lower end of their 15-year range.

It appears that a few strong companies mask the performance of many weak companies. That’s not the definition of a strong market or sector.

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.