Apr 12

These are the discounts we were asking for

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis:

On Thursday the S&P500 bounced back from Wednesday’s modest weakness and continues hovering near 2,650 resistance. Headlines remain overwhelmingly negative. Wednesday added a potential military response in Syria and confirmation from the Fed to expect three more rate-hikes this year. That is on top of Trump’s trade war and Muller’s growing investigation.

But rather than fear these waves of bad news, the market is holding up remarkably well. Owners have been given more than enough excuses to drop everything and run for the exits. Yet most of them seem content holding for higher prices. Strong price-action in the face of bad news is typically very bullish. If this market was going to crash, it would have happened by now. That tells us the path of least resistance is higher, not lower.

While it is tempting to argue with the market and insist it must go down because of all of these bearish headlines, the thing to remember is we trade the market, not the news. If the market doesn’t care about these headlines, then neither should we. The trade war and Muller’s investigation has been with us for weeks, even months. Everyone who fears these headlines has been given plenty of time to get out. Every one of these nervous sellers has been replaced by confident dip buyers who demonstrated a willingness to hold these risks. Once all the people who are afraid of a headline are out of the market, then the headline stops mattering because it is priced in.

Technically we are at the upper end of the latest trading range and that leaves us vulnerable to a dip back to the lower end of the range and even a test of support. But that won’t change anything. This weakness would be a buying opportunity, not an excuse to sell stocks. This is a resilient market and these discounts are attractive. A couple of months ago people were begging for a dip so they could get in at cheaper prices. The market answered our prayers. Don’t lose your nerve now.

The thing to remember is we cannot pick a bottom and it isn’t even worth trying. Once we come to terms with that idea, then we are left choosing between buying too early, or buying too late. If prices slip a little further over the next few days and weeks, all that means is we bought a little too early. No big deal. As I said earlier, if this market was fragile and vulnerable to a crash, it would have happened by now. Instead we should be impressed by how well it is holding up despite these waves of negative news. That tells us this market is strong, not weak. These are attractive discounts attractive even if prices slip a little further, which they might not. Wait too long and you will miss this opportunity.

Bitcoin surged today on news that some high-profile money managers are buying. While on the surface that sounds like good news, it probably isn’t as bullish as it seems. First, these guys are really good at keeping secrets when they are buying. They only let it out after they finished accumulating their positions because obviously they don’t want the price to surge while they are buying. Second, if these whales have been buying over the last few weeks and months, shouldn’t prices have bounced more meaningfully? If this is the best BTC could do while these big money managers were accumulating positions, what happens when they finish buying? The knee-jerk reaction was to send prices higher on the news, but unless other people follow these big names into Bitcoin, prices will resume their down-trend. I don’t expect prices to bounce until we get in the $4k range and all today’s headlines do is delay the inevitable.

Much like the broad market, the FAANG stocks are basing and are on solid ground. These are the discounts we’ve been waiting for and months from now people will be kicking themselves for not buying more at these levels. Have we put in the bottom yet? Maybe. Maybe not. But either way this will be a profitable position months from now. Our P&L doesn’t care if we buy early or we buy late, as long as we buy.


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Apr 10

What to make of these whipsaws

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis:

The S&P500’s whipsaw continues as Monday’s fizzle turned into Tuesday’s surge. On Monday the market opened strong following a weekend where tariff headlines cooled. Unfortunately the relief was short-lived because a FBI raid on Trump’s personal lawyer sent the market tumbling from its early highs. But Monday night the president of China took a conciliatory tone in a speech about trade and that was enough to kick off Tuesday’s buying frenzy. What does Wednesday have in store? If overnight futures falling 0.5% are any indication, it looks like another whipsaw is headed our way.

Lets discuss the big headlines one at a time. Stocks popped Tuesday when China’s president said he wanted to open the country up to more free trade. While that was a good start, it is a long way from a done deal. As they say, talk is cheap. What these promises of freer trade don’t include is a timeframe and Trump has often accused China of appeasing previous administrations with phony promises it never delivered on. Chances are good Trump will brush off these Chinese overtures and keep applying pressure. And more than that, let’s remember this is the “Art of the Deal” president. If the Chinese really are willing to give an inch, expect Trump to demand a mile. Without a doubt the trade headlines are anything but over and we should expect a bumpy road as we approach next month’s tariff deadlines.

The second story dominating headlines is Muller’s investigation into the Trump administration. The knee-jerk reaction was for owners to sell the news of the FBI raid. But reality is most of that reactionary fear is misplaced. Trump already delivered on tax and regulatory reforms, so most of the good stuff from the market’s perspective is already behind us. If Trump gets bogged down by a scandal, it won’t really affect the things the market cares about. In fact, given Trump’s strong nationalist bent lately, it could actually be a good thing for stocks. If a scandal consumes Trump’s time, energy, and political capital, that means there is less he can do to screw thing sup. As strange as it sounds, a paralyzed Congress and White House is actually bullish. Two decades ago when the Clinton White House was embroiled in a scandal that eventually lead to Clinton’s impeachment, the stock market actually went up. That’s because our government was too busy discussing a blue dress to mess up the economy. Most likely the same thing will happen here. The less our politicians do, the better off we are.

Technically speaking, the market continues hovering near the lows and is falling into a 2,600ish-2,650ish trading range. The problem with sticking near the lows is it makes it more likely that we will stumble under them. Violating widely followed technical levels near 2,600 and 2,550 will trigger swift waves of stop-loss selling and send us tumbling. On the other side, breaking 2,650 overhead resistance is unlikely to trigger waves of breakout buying. Instead demand will most likely dry up as those with cash adopt a wait-and-see approach given all the volatility and uncertainty that surrounds the market. Remember, stocks fall a lot faster than they go up. whi

While the near-term prognosis for stocks is cautious, the economic outlook is actually quite positive. That means any near-term weakness is simply another dip buying opportunity. This is especially true of the vaunted FAANG stocks. These tech highfliers are carving out a base and a few months from now people will be kicking themselves for not buying these discounts. These are attractive levels for anyone with a longer time horizon even if we fall a little lower over the near-term. Remember, no one can consistently pick a bottom. That means either we buy too-early, or we buy too-late. What a trader chooses to do largely depends on their personality and risk tolerance.

It seems like everyone has forgotten about bitcoin and it hardly gets mentioned in the mainstream financial press anymore. That’s a problem for bitcoin bulls because they need the exposure to encourage new buyers to come into the market. As I’ve been writing about for a while, bursting bubbles take six months or more to play out. That happened during the first three major corrections in bitcoin and there is every indication that is what is happening here. At best we are in the middle innings and we should expect further weakness to come. While $6k seems to be providing support, let’s not forget we said the same thing about $14k, $12k, $10k, $9k, $8k, and $7k. I hope everyone sees the pattern here. Expect bitcoin to undercut February’s lows over the next few weeks and for that to trigger a wave of defensive selling that doesn’t stop until we slip into the $4k range. Then and only then can we buy the dip for a quick bounce.


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Apr 06

Weekly Scorecard: A dramatic, but profitable week

By Jani Ziedins | Scorecard

Weekly Analysis and Scorecard: 

It was one hell of a week for the S&P500. Trump’s escalating trade war and the Chinese retaliations dominated headlines. At last count we ran through three rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs and subsequent retaliations. Combined both sides are looking at $300 billion in products being taxed at up to 25%. If the two largest economies battling a trade war doesn’t send a shiver through global growth, I don’t know what will.

Early in the week there was optimism this was little more than posturing ahead of far more sensible negations and compromises. By midweek the markets surged higher in relief and left Monday’s lows in the dust. But any feelings of relief were short-lived because Thursday night Trump lashed out at China’s “unfair retaliations” and tripled the size of his proposed tariffs. That sent markets into a tailspin Friday and we finished the week near the lows.

Trump promised us he didn’t want a trade war, but his actions say otherwise. What started as a complaint about Chinese policies is now threatening hundreds of thousands of American jobs and higher prices will plunder middle America’s discretionary income. If that is how Trump looks out for hard working Americans, they would probably be better off if he stopped trying to help them.

I wrote a fairly critical post Thursday evening. If Trump is your guy, then you probably won’t like it. But if you want to understand what is going on and how it affects the stock market, it is a worthwhile read.

As for next week’s outlook, expect the volatility to persist. The market was willing to give Trump the benefit of doubt and is why prices rebounded nicely in the middle of the week. But Thursday night’s betrayal will stick with traders for a while and they will be far less willing to give him a pass next time. Even though this trade war will most likely cool down over the next few weeks, don’t expect traders to chase stock prices higher anytime soon.

Weekly Scorecard

Even though it was a challenging week for the market, my analysis proved to be quite insightful and profitable.

Last week I warned subscribers:

While the market’s resilience is impressive, we could still see a little more near-term weakness before this is over. Rebounds from oversold levels are shockingly fast. Instead of rebounding higher, we seem to be drifting sideways. The market rarely gives us this long to buy the bottom and that means we might not be at the bottom yet. This is still an attractive level to buy the discounts, but any dip-buyers need to be patient and be prepared for a little more weakness.

This was the Friday before Monday’s dramatic, 2.3% plunge.

But rather than run for the hills, on Monday I told subscribers:

Most likely this [trade war] won’t amount to much over the near-term and prices will rebound once the headlines cool off. But until then, expect volatility to persist. Thing will get ugly if Trump and China turn this into a major trade war, but that is the worst case scenario and is weighing on the market today. Anything short of that will be a relief and prices will rebound. We could see further near-term weakness, but most likely this is the time to be buying, not selling.

Two days later the market was 100-points.

Tuesday’s analysis proved to be prophetic in both directions:

Trump is the biggest wild card in this. If he says the wrong thing, that could lead to another 3% down-day. If he says nothing, then prices rebound and dip-buyers make a lot of money. Without a doubt that makes this a challenging time to own stocks, but the only way to make money is by taking risks. By the time things are safe, the discounts will be gone.

That afternoon stocks exploded higher when Trump held his tongue following China’s second retaliation. For a brief moment in time traders thought the worst of the trade war headlines were behind us. And Wednesday the surge higher continued. But Thursday night Trump proved everyone wrong by tripling down on his trade war. Thursday Night I told free blog readers:

Are today’s threats simply more political posturing ahead of negotiations? I wish I knew. But the one thing I do know is the market hates uncertainty and I don’t think the stock market is going to forgive Trump as easily this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, but this is one of those things that is better watched from the safety of the sidelines…

…I was one of those confident dip buyers and everything looked awesome this afternoon as my profits were piling up. But all of a sudden I’m not as confident anymore. I have a reasonable profit cushion, but I’m definitely less confident than I was this afternoon and I will seriously think about locking in profits tomorrow. If too many people feel the same way, Friday could be an ugly day. The only thing we can do is wait for China’s response and hope that confident owners stay that way.

On Friday the stock market actually recovered a big chunk of those overnight losses. But that was as good as it got because not long after the stocks rolled over and we didn’t stop until we fell more than 2%, erasing nearly all of the week’s prior gains. I was lucky the market opened fairly strong and I was able to lock-in profits before things got a lot worse.

Now I will be the first to admit I was a bit lucky in calling this week’s moves so well and it often isn’t this easy. But the better we understand the market, the more lucky we tend to be.

Looking ahead, even though I locked-in profits this week, Friday’s volatility is setting up another buyable dip and I will be looking to jump back in soon. The best profit opportunities come from the scariest markets. Not all that long ago people were begging for a pullback. Now that the market has answered our wishes, don’t lose your nerve.


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