Jun 21

Should we fear Trump’s trade war?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

On Thursday the S&P500 stumbled again as trade war nervousness persists. While things definitely feel ominous, don’t lose sight of the fact we are only 4% from all-time highs and prices barely slipped 1% since this latest round of trade war headlines flared up on Monday.

As with everything in the market, there are two ways to look at this muted reaction. The lack of a larger selloff could be telling us most owners don’t care about the escalating trade war because it is already priced in. Alternately, holding near recent highs leaves us vulnerable to further weakness as last week’s relief turns into this week’s anxiety.

The truth ultimately lies somewhere between those two opposing views. Clearly equities are holding up remarkably well given the headline uncertainty. Stock market crashes are brutally quick and typically happen before most people figure out what is going on. The classic “sell first, ask questions later.” That is definitely not happening here since this selloff has only managed to shave off a couple dozen points in nearly a week. Bears are telling us the crash is coming, unfortunately for them crashes don’t work like that. No doubt the trade war situation could get worse, but it is hard to imagine how much worse it could get worse since both sides are already threatening to tax nearly everything they import from the other.

For anyone still tempted to argue we are on the verge of collapse and missed what I wrote on Tuesday, let me share it again because it is just as relevant today as it was then:

Pundits love to tell us complacent markets are bearish. But what they forget to tell us is complacency can last an awful long time. Confident owners don’t sell and the resulting tight supply makes it easy for modest demand to prop up prices. And that is exactly what has been happening here. Rather than argue with a market that isn’t doing what we think it should be doing, we should try to understand why it is acting the way it is. If we used this approach, it wouldn’t take long to realize this is an incredibly strong market. We are not vulnerable. We are not overbought. Anyone who understood these things wouldn’t have been overly concerned by this morning’s headlines and weak open. Complacency will eventually catch up with us, but this is not that time.

The market’s muted reaction thus far means we can take “crash” off the table because if it was going to happen, it would have happened by now. But there is a big difference between a shocking crash and a drawn out grind lower. Even though we might not crash, we can still give back a large chunk of the latest gains. Risk is a function of height and this month’s gains left a lot of air underneath us and it wouldn’t take much to slip back to 2,700 support.

Most people would rather the market keep going up, but we knew that wasn’t reasonable given that we are in the middle of the slow summer season. 2,800 resistance was always going to be a hurdle and if we didn’t slip on trade war fears, something else would have knocked us down. So far the market is acting well. Resilience in the face of bad news is a good sign and means we should stick with what has been working. Don’t fall for all the misleading noise swirling around us. If this market was fragile and vulnerable, we would have crashed by now. Instead, view this weakness as a simple and routine dip. If this is nothing but a routine dip, then that means it is creating buyable entry point for those of us that are paying attention.

The headlines are predominately bearish, but the price-action remains constructive. Everyone knows markets trade sideways most of the time, but that is easy to forget when we are looking at the far right edge of a chart. Too often we convince ourselves every headline and price gyration means something. But the truth is today’s price-action will most likely be as inconsequential as any other random day over the last 12 months.

If there was something fundamentally wrong with this market, it would have shown up in the price-action by now. Instead we are holding up remarkably well and that tell us we are still standing on solid ground. But solid ground doesn’t preclude us from dipping modestly over the near-term. As I wrote on Monday, these things are rarely one-day events and we should expect uncertainty to persist. But I would be surprised if we failed to hold 2,700 support. In fact I doubt we even get that far. Which is unfortunate because I’d love to buy those discounts. Instead this dip will most likely bounce way too soon and won’t give us that great entry point.

As for our favorite buy-and-hold investments, there isn’t much to do except ignore the noise and keep holding.


Apple is the only FAANG stock struggling with these trade war headlines, but that’s not a surprise. They are the only one with huge Chinese manufacturing exposure. The rest of the FAANG stocks are escaping this uncertainty and are a good place for investors to hide out. Most likely this trade war stuff will blow over, but if it doesn’t and AAPL keeps slipping, that would be a better place to be buying more, not getting defensive and selling. People beg for a discount and any further weakness in AAPL would be answering our prayers. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of it.

Bitcoin is muddling along in the $6k’s, but the same thing happened in the $9k’s, $8k’s, and $7k’s. Unless we can find buyers willing to pull us out of these lows, it is almost inevitable another negative headline will come along and send us tumbling lower. At this point dip buyers don’t want to (or can’t because they are already fully invested) save this cryptocurrency and that means lower-lows are ahead.

If you found this post useful, return the favor by sharing it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and StockTwits!

Jani

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Jun 19

Should we fear a trade war?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

On Tuesday the S&P500 tumbled at the open as U.S./Chinese trade tensions flared up and global markets crashed. China retaliated against Trump’s initial tariffs and not to be outdone, Trump retaliated against the Chinese retaliations by adding tariffs to another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China hasn’t responded to Trump’s latest move, but in the past they said they would match Trump’s tariffs dollar-for-dollar. This latest back-and-forth sent the Shanghai market tumbling nearly 4% and put a big dent in European equities before the U.S. market opened. Following the global selling, the S&P500 opened down 0.8%.

If all of this sounds familiar, that’s because similar headlines sent us tumbling several weeks ago. Last time it was threats of tariffs, this time there is more intent behind the threats. But this morning, rather than send U.S. traders scrambling for cover, the S&P500 bottomed within the first hour and ended up erasing half of those opening losses by the close. Instead of panicking and fleeing the market, most traders were more inclined to buy the dip. But this isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog over the last few months.

As I’ve been saying for awhile, if this market was going to crash, it would have happened by now. There have been more than enough bearish headlines to send a vulnerable market tumbling. Rate-hikes, increasing interest rates, the growing Muller investigation, and a brewing trade war. Those are all the extremely negative headlines this market endured. If these things couldn’t dent this market, why would today’s headlines be any different? Given today’s resilient price-action, yet again most owners chose to ignore the headlines and keep holding their favorite stocks. When confident owners refuse to sell the headlines, they stop mattering.

Pundits love to tell us complacent markets are bearish. But what they forget to tell us is complacency can last an awful long time. Confident owners don’t sell and the resulting tight supply makes it easy for modest demand to prop up prices. And that is exactly what has been happening here. Rather than argue with a market that isn’t doing what we think it should be doing, we should try to understand why it is acting the way it is. If we used this approach, it wouldn’t take long to realize this is an incredibly strong market. We are not vulnerable. We are not overbought. Anyone who understood these things wouldn’t have been overly concerned by this morning’s headlines and weak open. Complacency will eventually catch up with us, but this is not that time.

But just because this is a strong market doesn’t mean buying last week’s strength was a good ideas. As I wrote in last week’s free blog post:

This is a strong market, not a weak one. Bears have been wrong for months and they will stay wrong unless they change sides. But another thing I frequently point out is risk is a function of height, meaning this rebound to the highest levels in several months also makes this a more risky place to be adding new money. The best buys come when the crowd is scared, not when it is breathing a sigh of relief. The best time to buy was weeks ago, and anyone not invested is probably better off waiting for a better entry point.

The latest surge to 2,800 resistance left us vulnerable to today’s dip. I don’t believe today’s headlines will trigger a larger selloff, but they are enough to trigger a near-term consolidation and is what made adding new money last week a bad idea. That strength was a better place to be taking profits. While everyone understands this conceptually, we often forget it when contemplating buying and selling stocks.

While a full-fledged trade war isn’t good for the economy, most in the market participants don’t expect this to get that bad. We trade the market, not the headlines. That means if the market doesn’t care, then we shouldn’t either. The great thing about being a independent investor is we are small enough to change our mind and adjust our positions with a few mouse clicks. As long as this market keeps acting well, we should continue doing what is working. That means sticking with our favorite buy-and-hold stocks and waiting for a better entry point for our short-term trading account. Today’s dip was interesting, but we didn’t fall far enough to skew the risk/reward far enough in my direction and I will keep waiting for bigger discounts.

If you found this post useful, return the favor by sharing it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and StockTwits!

Jani

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Jun 14

Does anyone still care about rate-hikes?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

On Thursday the S&P500 traded sideways for a fourth day as we consolidate recent gains under 2,800 resistance. Things got a little spooky Wednesday after the Fed said a fourth rate-hike this year was likely, one more than previously expected. Higher rates have been a concern and that was enough to send some traders scrambling for the exits and prices stumbled into Wednesday’s close. But the selling was short-lived and prices rebounded Thursday, hardly missing a beat.

As I’ve been writing about for months, the headlines that have been dominating the financial pages have already been priced in. If any of these headlines were going to knock us down, it would have happened by now. Instead, owners who feared these headlines bailed out months ago and were replaced by confident dip-buyers willing to own these risks. If they didn’t sell rate-hike headlines two, three, and four months ago, why would they sell them now? The answer is they wouldn’t. And as we saw Thursday, Wednesday’s dip was little more than a flash in the pan.

This is a strong market, not a weak one. Bears have been wrong for months and they will stay wrong unless they change sides. But another thing I frequently point out is risk is a function of height, meaning this rebound to the highest levels in several months also makes this a more risky place to be adding new money. The best buys come when the crowd is scared, not when it is breathing a sigh of relief. The best time to buy was weeks ago, and anyone not invested is probably better off waiting for a better entry point. Or at the very least, dollar-cost-averaging into the market.

The market is acting well and we should keep doing what is working. Our favorite buy-and-hold positions are doing great and we should stick with them. Even though the S&P500 is consolidating underneath prior highs, FAANG stocks are on fire and many of them are setting new all-time highs on a daily basis. The strongest stocks are leading the way as expensive keeps getting even more expensive. The downside is this rebound sucked a lot of emotion out of the market and volatility is crashing. While that is good for nerves, it isn’t so good for swing-trading. Those of us that were paying attention made good money this spring jumping in and out of the emotional gyrations, but unfortunately the market is transitioning back into slow-money where buy-and-hold works better than swing-trading.

Summer is often a slow time for the market, but that calm often sets the stage for a more exciting fall season. So far the market is acting well and that most likely means big money will start chasing prices higher into year-end when they return from their summer cottages. In the meantime, stick with what is working and right now that is buying-and-holding our favorite tech stocks.

If you found this post useful, return the favor by sharing it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and StockTwits!

Jani

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