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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

US Stocks: 5 Intriguing Charts, 1 Conclusion

Here is a look at the 5 (in my humble opinion) most intriguing and important charts right now. As you will notice, not all charts point in the same direction. Nevertheless, I will conclude with a weight of evidence-based conclusion.

1) S&P 500 Tug of War

The July 15 Profit Radar Report introduced subscribers to a massively bullish S&P 500 chart pattern with an up side target of 3,000+.

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.

The chart insert shows price since July 15. Thus far, triangle support has held, the pattern has not been invalidated, but also not confirmed.

Short-term, as brought out by the August 8 Profit Radar Report, sellers have a window of opportunity due to triple resistance around 2,860.

2) Nasdaq Resistance

The Nasdaq-100 QQQ is up against double resistance comprised of the red trend line and a Fibonacci projection level going back to its 2002 low. As long as resistance holds, bears have a window of opportunity to take QQQ lower.

3) Bear’s Best Friend

All major indexes (S&P 500, Dow Jones, Nasdaq, Russell 2000) have been dancing to the beat of their own drum.

For a broader assessment of US stock’s health, some look at the NY Composite (NYC), which includes some 2000 stocks.

The NYC thus far only retraced 61.8% of the decline from the January high. 61.8 is a Fibonacci number, in fact, it is the ideal retracement of a counter trend rally, a dead cat bounce. That’s what makes the NYC “bear’s best friend” right now.

A look under the hood however, reveals two important facts:

  • More stocks have been advancing than declining (blue graph)
  • The ratio of advancing stocks has slowed significantly (gray graph)

Based on the NYC advance/decline line and ratio, the most likely outcome is short-term weakness followed by longer-term strength.

4) VIX

The August 1 Profit Radar Report published the chart below, which plots the VIX against hedgers’ (smart money) exposure and seasonality. Based on those factors, a spike to 17 (red trend line) seemed likely.

This week, the VIX spiked from 10.17 to 15.02, a 47% move. Higher readings are still possible.

5) Doom-and-Gloom Hurray

Investors loved doom-and-gloom stories a couple weeks ago. I took a screenshot of most popular MarketWatch articles on July 31. The top two were:

  • Prepare for the biggest stock-market selloff in months, Morgan Stanley warns
  • This ‘prophet of doom’ predicts stock market will plunge more than 50%

Admittedly that’s anecdotal evidence, but heavily bearish investors tend to get burnt first. The early August rally did just that.

Conclusion

If you want to be bullish, there’s plenty of data to support your view.

If you want to be bearish, there’s plenty of data to support your view, too.

Looking at the data objectively, my conclusion (based on the weight of evidence) is that short-term weakness will provide at least one more buying opportunity.

Weakness may not materialize if the S&P 500, Nasdaq, NY Composite move above their respective resistance levels.

Support levels, up side targets and continuous updates are available in the Profit Radar Report.

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.

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, 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 Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

February Mini Meltdown: Warning Signal or Buying Opportunity

What caused the February meltdown? If you are looking for another strong opinion, sorry, you won’t find it here.

Before we address the more important issue – whether now is the time to buy or sell – here is one tell-tale sign (of what contributed to the ‘meltdown’) brought out by the January 29 Profit Radar Report.

On Friday, the S&P 500 jumped more than 1% to a new all-time high with less than 55% of stocks advancing, another one of those unusual events. The only other times this happened was once in 1987 and thrice in 1999. All four events were followed by minor 2-8% immediate corrections, and eventually big corrections and bear markets.”

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.

The correction sure was immediate, and it didn’t stop at 2-8%.

Buy or Sell?

Since much of the recent market action happened overnight, we’ll first be looking at the S&P 500 futures chart, which includes overnight trading activity.

The February 5 and 6 Profit Radar Reports published the chart below and stated: “Based on the extremely oversold readings, a bounce is becoming highly likely. S&P 500 futures tested the 200-day SMA and 38.2% Fibonacci. From high to low, the S&P 500 futures lost 12.14%. This is already more than the 5-10% correction we anticipated and close to the 14.38% loss (on average based on the last 4 cycles) leading into the mid-term low (see 2018 S&P 500 Forecast).”

The S&P 500 cash index looks a little different, as the pullback was ‘only’ 9.74%.

Here is one reason why we expect eventual all-time highs: RSI-2 was overbought, which suggested risk, but RSI-35 confirmed the January 26 all-time high.

RSI-35 also confirmed the December 2016 and March 2017 highs. As we mentioned many times in recent years, stocks rarely ever carve out a major top at peek momentum.

Conclusion

This clearly is a market that plays by its own rules (the rules are: there are no rules). Nevertheless, nearly all our studies and indicators suggest a resumption of the bull market once this correction is over.

S&P 500 futures already met our down side target, the S&P 500 cash index not yet. Ideally we’ll see a test of the panic low with a bullish divergence for a higher probability buy signal.

Either way, we consider this a buy the dip market. Continued updates and trade 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.