Teflon rally shakes off economic contraction. AAPL struggles with $460 and chances of a quick rebound are fading fast.
Stocks traded modestly weaker on unexpected news of economic contraction in the 4th quarter, but given the magnitude of the headline, the market’s reaction is surprisingly subdued.
People can trade technicals, fundamentals, or the market. Technicals say we are overbought. Fundamentals say we are two-months away from a new recession. Yet the market could care less and is holding near 5-year highs. Markets are a collection of traders buying and selling their opinions and expectations. Fundamentals and technicals are secondary because they only influence trader’s opinions and expectations, they don’t actually move markets. More importantly, we only care about changing opinions and expectations.
Buying and selling is what makes markets move. Traders with existing opinions have already placed those trades and are waiting. It is traders who are changing their minds that provide the buying and selling that moves prices.
Today’s economic contraction report did little to change anyone’s mind, so prices stayed the same. Bears remained bearish and bulls stayed bullish. The bad news for bears is that headline was about as spooky as it gets and if any bulls were hanging on by their fingertips, that would have pushed them over the edge. This proves bulls are confident and holding on for higher prices regardless of what the fundamentals or technicals show.
Journalists will point out the half-full parts of the report to explain this resilience, but their job is to find reasons to explain the market’s move, or in this case the lack of a move. The truth is bulls are getting greedy and bears are impotent (already out of the market). When a headline like this cannot change a bull’s mind, the only one left to change is bears buying into the market and that is why we should expect higher prices over the near-term.
If headlines of economic contraction can’t spook bulls out of their positions, not much else will. If this market cannot be brought down by negative news, then the only other thing is running out of buyers. As long as cynics remain, the market will have fuel to continue rallying. Eventually bears will develop a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude and buy this market Those that jump on the bandwagon sooner will profit more than those that wait until the very end and buy the top. It is okay to be wrong, it is fatal to stay wrong. The sooner we recognize and fix our mistakes, the more successful we will be.
Markets can go down for any number of reasons, but this market is demonstrating an immunity to negative news and that greatly mitigates unexpected downside risks. This rally will eventually turn over, but only after everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. With today’s resilience, and if it holds through the close, we should expect the pace of bears turning into bulls to accelerate, but this is the last push toward the end of this rally and those that get in too late will be left holding the bag.
AAPL finally broke above $460 this morning, but is struggling to hold this level midday. Moving into last week’s gap will be a significant technical milestone. There are a lot of new buyers and regretful holders at the $460 level, but once we get through their selling pressure, the clear air of the gap will give less resistance up to $490 because there will be fewer people trying to get their money back. But we have to break above $465 first.
We are in the fifth-day of the post-earnings selloff and the longer we trade at these levels, the less likely a V-bottom becomes. If we fail to break into the gap this afternoon, chances of a quick rebound are practically nil. The two remaining options are a grind higher and more selling. Since so many people are still bullish on AAPL at this valuation, I see a much larger pool of available sellers (current holders) than new buyers. If someone does not already own APPL at these levels, they probably are not going to buy it no matter how cheap it gets. That lack of demand from new investors will be a real headwind turning this stock around.
Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.