Long-and Short-term S&P 500 Outlook

At the same time last year, the S&P 500 was in the early stages of a 270-point drop and logged one of the worst Januaries in history.

On January 20, and February 11, the S&P was as low as 1,810. Headlines, such as the one below, sprouted up everywhere (talk about financial bloopers):

  • “Warning: The Stealth Bear Market is About to Show its Teeth” – MarketWatch
  • “Here Comes the Recession and Bear Market” – Forbes
  • “Marc Faber: Assets will Crash like Titanic” – Bloomberg
  • “Soros: It’s the 2008 Crisis all Over Again” – CNBC
  • “Gartman: It’s Definitely a Bear Market this Time” – CNBC
  • “The Bear Market in Stocks has Finally Arrived” – MarketWatch
  • “Market could Go from Bear to Worse” – TheStreet
  • What a difference a year makes.

The chart below plots the S&P 500 against six different investor sentiment gauges. Sentiment has gone from extremely bearish in January/February 2016 (green bar) to extremely bullish today.

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.

Here is the elephant in the room: From a contrarian perspective, is investor sentiment bullish enough to cause a significant drop right now?

When viewed in isolation, the answer is: Yes. By some measures, today’s sentiment extremes rival extremes seen in late 2007 (December 31 Profit Radar Report includes a comparison between investor sentiment in 2007 and 2016).

We never rely on any one single indicator, and other indicators – which predicted this rally before it started – continue to point higher (our longer-term bullish indicators were discussed here: S&P 500 – Expect the ‘Abnormal’ – Comprehensive S&P 500 Analysis).

The S&P 500 has yet to reach the up side target published by the August 5 Profit Radar Report (see chart below).

There are times where stocks continue to climb despite sentiment extremes. Now may be such a time.

Short-term Outlook

The December 14 PRR stated that: “Yesterday’s high could be the end of wave 3 (perhaps a wave 3 within a larger wave 3), to be followed by a choppy wave 4 correction with much sideways action (sideways action following strong moves has certainly been a pattern in 2016).”

After three weeks of choppy trading, the market did what it does best. It fooled the crowd by briefly dropping below the 20-day SMA and double trend line support at 2,245.

This drop triggered another set of buy signals for the S&P 500 SPDR ETF (SPY) and Nasdaq QQQ ETF (QQQ), and the January 2 PRR stated that: “The S&P 500 broke below support at 2,245. This may just be a fakeout move. The DJIA, Russell 2000 and Nasdaq are at support. We will allow stocks to regain their footing and move higher from around current levels.”

The strongest part of this rally is behind us, but further gains are still likely. Instead of straight up, future gains will probably take the shape of ‘two steps forward, one step back.’

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.

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String of Indecisive Dojis Foreshadows Trouble for SPDR S&P 500 ETF

Increasing demand following a lasting bottom generally leads to higher prices. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF has seen higher prices (since the June 24 low), but the candle formation since then reflect uncertainty, not increasing demand.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) has rallied as much as 4.3% from last week’s low and some analysts feel that the market has been cleared for takeoff again.

That may be the case, but the string of dojis of the recent low doesn’t inspire confidence in the longevity of this bounce.

A doji candlestick is formed when the open and close are the same or very close to equal, despite a wide trading range. They are generally an indication of equality between buyers and sellers.

The SPY chart below highlights the seven consecutive dojis since the June 24 low. The doji’s suggest that this rally is lacking the kind of buying pressure associated with lasting lows.

In fact, a closer look at the hourly chart (see gray chart insert) shows that SPY gapped higher in the first hour of trading five of the last six trading days. In other words, most of the gains occurred in the overnight futures session.

The big players may be running up the futures at night to sell their long position during the day.

While the string of dojis looks bearish for stocks, technicals are currently neutral.

I believe the overall odds favor lower prices. A well-defined resistance level for SPY, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 provides a promising low-risk opportunity to go short. A break below support (also less preferred) would open a similar opportunity.

It will take sustained trade above resistance to unlock higher price targets.

The Profit Radar Report highlights the resistance level that serves as a low-risk entry for short sellers.