S&P 500 Update – Panic in Context

In response to the relentless Q4 2019 rally in stocks, I created the Risk/Reward Heat Map (RRHM) to objectively asses upcoming risk  (and reward) based on literally hundreds of indicators and historic precedents. RRHM methodology is explained here.

Below is the very first RRHM, published in the December 25, 2019 Profit Radar Report:

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The red bars projected significant risk, and the market delivered much more risk then even anticipated by the RRHM.

In fact, the market decline is unlike any other we’ve seen before. Below is an excerpt from the March 10 Profit Radar Report, which puts the recent panic into context.

* * * * * March 10, 2020 Profit Radar Report * * * * *

97.70% of NYSE-traded stocks ended down yesterday, the 2nd worst 90%+ down day since 1970. Below is the comple list of 95%+ down days:

  • 08/08/2011: 98.73%
  • 03/09/2020: 97.70%
  • 10/19/1987: 95.98%
  • 10/09/1979: 95.56%
  • 08/04/2011: 95.56%
  • 09/29/2008: 95.11%
  • 08/24/2015: 95.05%

Chart #1 outlines the above dates in ‘big picture’ context (dashed blue lines).

Chart #2 provides thumbnail performance for each instance (highlighted in blue). There were two 95%+ days in 2011.

53.04% of NYSE-traded stocks closed at 52-week lows yesterday. Since 1970, there have only been 10 other days where more than half of all stocks sat at 52-week lows (5 of them in 2008).

Chart #3 shows those instances in ‘big picture’ context (dashed blue lines).

Chart #4 provides thumbnail performance for each instance (highlighted in blue). There were 5 instances in 2008, 3 in 1970, and 2 in 1987. 50%+ lows have come in clusters, does this mean we should expect another 50%+ reading before this correction is over?

The S&P 500 lost 7.60% yesterday, it’s 4th biggest daily loss. Since 1970, the S&P lost more than 7% only on 3 other days:

10/13/2008: 11.58%

10/28/2008: 10.79%

10/21/1987: 9.10%

Chart # 5 below provides big picture context for the top 4 daily % losses.

The more extremes this market delivers, the smaller the list of precedents becomes. 2008 and 1987 are two of the few time periods that come up fairly consistent in our list of precedents.

The 1 – 3 month forward performance for the above studies was positive 55-75% of the time. If we were to exclude the 2008 instances, the forward performance would turn positive 90%+ of the time.

1987 was a brief but nasty ‘rip the bandage off’ type of a decline.

2008 was a long and persistent decline that plowed past the initial extremes seen.

Despite today’s strong gains, it doesn’t look like more than 80% of NYSE-traded stocks closed higher. NYSE-up volume, on the other hand, may have delivered a small breadth thrust (we’ll determine tomorrow after final numbers are in).

The S&P 500 bounced from support around 2,740, but was not able to overcome resistance around 2,860. Based on the cluster of 50%+ NYSE low days in the past, it would not be a first to see another 50%+ NYSE low day.

* * * * * END – March 10, 2020 Profit Radar Report * * * * *

Today may deliver another 50%+ down day, which may spark a sizable rally. Long-term trend line support for the S&P 500 is just below 2,500.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

S&P 500 Update – Was Risk Flushed Out?

The last S&P 500 update introduced the risk/reward heat map (RRHM), which projected increased risk in January/February (see image below). How exactly the RRHM is produced is discussed here: Risk Reward Heat Map Methodology

The January 15 Profit Radar Report warned that: “Based on our risk/reward heat map, we are approaching a period of increased risk with an initial emphasis on late January.”

Just 4 days later, stocks suffered the biggest pullback since October 2019.

The pullback stopped on February 3, which makes the analysis from the February 2 Profit Radar Report (republished below) all the more interesting:

                                        * * * * *  February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

“Based on preliminary data, 82.85% of NYSE-traded stocks ended Friday lower, the biggest down day since August 8, 2019. The chart below shows various breadth gauges. The bottom graph reflects down days. A cluster of down days (80% or 90%) tends to reflect selling exhaustion and is usually seen near bottoms, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.

We’ve seen two 80%+/- down days already, so one could argue there’s already a measure of exhaustion.

Almost all of our short-term sentiment gauges perked up nicely and are already showing minor extremes. In times past, readings of similar degree have been enough to mark a bottom. Since we’ve seen some significant optimism extremes at the top, it is quite possible we need some more significant pessimism extremes. This, however, is not required.

The S&P 500 closed right on the green support trend line, which could be considered the minimum down side target for this pullback. Due to the sentiment extremes at the top and our RRHM, we would like to see lower prices, with 3,190 being the next and 3,130 +/- a more ideal down side target.”

                                      * * * * *  End February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

The S&P 500 spiked 110 point this week. The chart below shows the resistance (red) and support (green) levels mentioned in the February 3 Profit Radar Report.

The S&P tagged the minimum down side target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2016. The S&P failed to reach the ideal target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2007, and would have reflected a more proportional correction.

Resistance is still at 3,336. A break above 3,336 would allow for a move to next resistance, but the CBOE equity put/call ratio is getting dangerously low once again, and the RRHM suggests we may not be out of the woods yet.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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S&P 500: Short-and Long-term Risk vs Reward Analysis

it happened again: The S&P 500 erased a month worth of gains in just 3 days. Being aware of the up side potential compared to down side risk is always a good idea, but especially now.

Let’s objectively assess bullish and bearish factors to determine up side potential vs down side risk for the short-and long-term.

Up Side Potential – Short-term

The October 20 Profit Radar Report published the S&P 500 futures chart below and stated that: “A close above 3,002 (blue triangle) could eventually lead as high as 3,187.75 (3,167.74 for S&P 500).

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The S&P 500 came within 12 points of this target and then dropped 84 points in 3 days (as projected, see last chart of this article). Based on the above projection, near-term up side potential is limited.

Up Side Potential – Longer-term

On November 25, the VIX closed below 12 for the first time in 3 months. Over the past 20 years, this has happened 8 other times. 1 year later the S&P 500 traded higher every time (the blue lines below highlight the instances since 2013).

On November 25, the Russell 2000 reached a new 52-week highefor the fist time in a year. Over the past 20 years, this happened 5 other times. 1 year later, R2K traded higher 4 of 5 times.

For the first time since August 2018, the monthly MACD histogram for the NY Composite crossed above 0. The blue lines below highlight times when the MACD histogram exceeded 0 for the first time in a year. This signal was rare (only 6 times since 1980) and always followed by gains 1 year later (on average 16%).

Short-term Down Side Risk – Short-term

The November 24 PRR mentioned that VIX hedgers held a record amount of VIX positions and warned: “The last two times this happened, the VIX spiked and S&P 500 took a nasty spill.”

From November 27 – December 3, the VIX soared as much as 50%. This may have satisfied the need for a VIX spike already, but more could still be to come.

Longer-term Down Side Risk

The November 20 PRR noted that: “Unlike stocks, junk bonds have been trending lower. The chart below plots the S&P 500 against the SPDR High Yield Bond ETF (JNK). The blue boxes highlight other periods where JNK trended lower while the S&P trended higher. It usually and eventually led to stock market pullbacks of various degrees.”

It is difficult to put a time-frame on this ‘setup’ as the bearish divergence could be followed by weakness sooner or later.

Conclusion

When compiling my forecasts I look for ‘signal clusters.’ Those are times when indicators and studies coherently suggest a specific performance over a certain time frame.

Right now, a cluster of bullish studies suggests that stocks will be higher about 1 year from today.

Another cluster of indicators projects lower prices over the next 3 month. This cluster, however, is in conflict with the strong momentum market we’ve seen since early October.

In short, the weight of evidence suggests that pullbacks over the next 3 month are an opportunity to buy.

The yellow projection below, published in the December 1 Profit Radar Report, outlined a path in harmony with a number of indicators.

As you can see, the projection correctly captured the decline from 3,150 to below 3,100. Another rally to the high is quite possible and – if all goes according ‘to plan’ – should be followed by another pullback, potentially a much deeper, but also temporary one.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations 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.

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5 ‘Keep it Simple’ Stock Charts and 1 Bearish Constellation

The rally from the June 3 low has created many bullish price and breadth patterns and studies (5 of them are discussed here). The market has followed through on them thus far.

However, the short-term Elliott Wave structure does not look bullish, and the long-term projection published in the June 2 Profit Radar Report (shown here) points to a serious speed bump.

In short, there is a measure of conflict between indicators. When that happens, I like to go back to the basics and keep it simple.

Resistance

The DJIA shows probably the most important resistance range to watch: around 27,300.

Support

The S&P 500 shows some important support levels to watch: around 2,910 and 2,875.

Short-term Trend Channel

The June 23 Profit Radar Report used this chart to simplify the short-term: “A break below channel support would unlock a pullback. The wave labels show the most bearish EWT-based option. It’s not ideal, but it seems more likely than other options.”

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.

Trend channel support failed the next day and unlocked the biggest pullback of June. It is possible to count the decline from June 21 as 5 waves, which cautions that the trend may have changed from up to down.

Leader Fatigue

The rally from the June low has been led by defensive sectors like consumer staples. Contrary to popular belief, such (defensive-led) rallies are statistically not doomed to fail.

However, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) carved out a pattern with a lot of bearish potential. I recommended to go short at 59.07 on June 13. The stop-loss is now set at breakeven, which allows us to ‘play with house money.’

Overlap

Small cap stocks represented by the Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) are lagging. In fact, IWM fell below the June 5 high. If one wanted to count the June rally as 5 waves, June 5 would be wave 1, but yesterday price dropped below the June 5 high. This creates a bearish (wave 4 / wave 1) overlap (blue arrow) that’s not allowed and voids a short-term bullish Elliott Wave count.

Bearish Constellation

Not only small caps are lagging. The transportation and banking sector are too (see chart below).

Only two other times (July 1990 and July 1998) has there been such a big divergence between the S&P 500 and small caps, transportation, and banking. This is a small sample size, but it led to a rocky and negative performance over the next quarter.

Conclusion

Even during times where there is conflict among indicators, going back to the basics provides some general guidance.

It will take a sustained move above resistance to unlock higher targets, and a break below support to unlock lower targets.

Another big but temporary drop would certainly clear up the structure and provide a lot more certainty, but we’ll let the above levels indicate whether it will happen.

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.

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S&P 500 Update – Big Fake or Little Fake?

As mentioned in the last S&P 500 update we were looking for stocks to continue lower into the next target/inflection zone, which was around 2,740 (May 29 Profit Radar Report: “We expect 2,740 – 2,720 to be reached. From there, a larger bounce may develop.”).

Sunday’s (June 2) Profit Radar Report featured the chart below and stated that: “S&P 500 Futures are down some 15 points in Sunday night’s session and already reached their first target. Aggressive investors afraid of missing out on a bounce (which could turn into something more) may put some money to work.”

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.

This bounce happened, and it happened quickly and honestly stronger than I expected.

Big Fake or Little Fake?

Now the question is: Will stocks relapse or continue to new all-time highs?

The chart below shows that the S&P 500 fell as low as 2,728.81 on Monday. This drop closed the open chart gap at 2,744.13 and tagged Fibonacci target at 2,739.45, where wave c = wave a (a common target for waves c). The open chart gap at 2,851.11 is the next up side target (I wrote about the power of chart gaps here last week).

In terms of breadth, this week’s market action was bullish. Despite Monday’s 6-point drop, 65.03% of NYSE stocks advanced (strength ‘under the hood’), and on Tuesday, 81.48% of NYSE stocks advanced.

The horizontal blue line helps us determine other times when more than 80% of stocks advanced. In general it’s been a positive (green lines), but there’ve been false signals as well (May 16, red line and October 16, 2018, not shown).

So Tuesday’s strong up day is positive, but not an infallible buy signal.

I still prefer for this rally to relapse. The question is how high it will rally and relapse (big fake, or little fake). The June 2 Profit Radar Report outlined the 4 most likely paths going forward. One was already eliminated by this week’s action. That leaves three. Continued updates, projections, and buy/sell recommendations 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.

 

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.

Will Momentum Continue to Push Stocks Higher?

From December 3 – December 26, 2018, the S&P 500 lost 453 points. Since then, the S&P rallied 400 points.

Who would have thought that the worst December since 1931 would be followed by the best January since 1987?

Extremes Everywhere

We are truly living in a world of extremes. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer while historic heat waves and polar vortexes ravage the globe. Stock market extremes fit into the picture.

Although the relentlessness of this rally was unexpected (at least for me), the Profit Radar Report highlighted a tell tale sign of the latest buying extreme when 90% of NYSE-traded stocks advanced on January 4 (blue columns).

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.

As the table and thumbnail charts below shows (originally published in the January 9 Profit Radar Report), this kind of breadth and momentum thrust is rare and almost always long-term bullish.

Confirmation?

The initial thrust is thus far confirmed by my favorite liquidity indicator (blue graph, first chart), which has already retraced 88.82% of its prior losses, significantly more than the 63% S&P 500 retracement.

A new high of the liquidity indicator prior to a S&P 500 high will be additional confirmation of further gains.

Momentum vs Over-bought

The S&P 500 ended Tuesday overbought (based on RSI-2 – bottom graph, first chart). This is not the first time the S&P has become over-bought, but in 2019 it’s been a ‘mind of matter’ pattern; As long as the market doesn’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Red line resistance, the next potential speed bump, is around 2,745.

The Elliott Wave pattern for almost every major index is up to interpretation, but the Nasdaq-100 QQQ ETF pattern offers slightly more clarity than others.

As the chart above shows, QQQ could be completing a 5-wave move. Upon completion, a 5-wave move is followed by a correction (quite commonly a nasty one), and further gains.

One anomaly that also cautions against chasing stocks at this stage is the VIX. As the chart above shows, the VIX has fallen back to support around 15, in fact, it’s at the lowest level since October. At the same time, the S&P 500 is still below its 200-day SMA.

It’s unusual for the VIX to drop to a 3-4 month low while the S&P is still below its 200-day SMA. In fact, over the past 20 years it only happened during the 2001/02 and 2008 bear markets. Forward returns were consistently negative.

In summary, chasing stocks at this stage does not seem prudent. There should be a pullback … and who knows, perhaps the pullback also gathers momentum. We’ll evaluate when we get there.

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.