PM: All is well with the world

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Feb 19
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

The rally continues and all is well with the world.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks jumped to fresh highs and finished at the top of the day’s range.  Volume was slightly above average.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market is running in clean air, meaning we don’t have overhead resistance from regretful owners looking to get out at break-even.  Everyone with a diversified portfolio is sitting on profits and that is a big reason traders are willing to hold through modest pullbacks.

Many traders were burned by selling the post-election/Fiscal Cliff dip.  They also bailed after the Fiscal Cliff pop went “too-far, too-fast”.  But as the rally continued, most who sold anytime over the last several months have come to regret that decision.  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  The sellers that bought back in and those that held through the dips are more confident in the market than they have been in quite some time.

What this means for the rest of us is this market will not collapse in a wave of panic selling.  It rallied on negative GDP and it clearly knows sequestration is just around the corner, but it doesn’t care.  If those headlines won’t spook this market, anything short of a terrorist nuclear bomb detonation will not dent it either.

If this Teflon market won’t fall on news, the only thing left is running out of buyers.  The calm and steady climb higher is seducing the remaining holdouts and momentum chasers and shorts covering provided much of the buying today on a headline-free jump to new highs.  This market is no longer trading on fundamentals, but supply and demand.  Holders are not selling and former cynics are chasing.  This is a recipe for price increases, but it is also a short-lived phenomenon.  We will eventually run out of chasers and the last people in the door will have little profit cushion, causing them bail at the first signs of weakness.

This chasing rally can last for weeks or even months, so don’t short this market.  But if we know what we are looking for, we will be better positioned to trade the top when it finally happens.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
There are two things the market can do tomorrow, continue higher or pullback to support and consolidate.  A continued surge is unsustainable and will end in an exhaustion top.  A modest pullback to support will spook out some of the momentum traders and tempt bears to re-short this market.  That repositioning clears the way for the sustainable grind higher.

Either way we are getting closer to the end of this run and it is better to be taking profits than initiating new positions.  The time to buy was two and a half months ago when the world was ending, not now when everything seems fine.  There is some upside left in the market, but holding out for top-dollar is often a fool’s game.  We are in this to make money and you can only do that by selling winners.  It is hard to close a position making money, but if the most successful traders sell too early, maybe we should do it too.

I sold half of my SPX trade late today.  I had a trailing stop that let me ride up to the close, but ending at the day’s highs made me take some profits off the table.  We could see this continue higher tomorrow and that will probably get me out of the rest of my position, but if we pullback and find support for a few days, I will look to buy back in.

Alternate Outcome:
Without a doubt this market could go higher and I probably sold too early, but that is what a disciplined trader does.  If this rally is sustainable, there will be other opportunities to get back in.  If it runs up in an exhaustion top, I’ll miss a few dollars of upside, but I would probably end up selling too late and miss the top anyway.  At least when I’m out of the market and have a clear head, I will be better positioned to look for the next trade.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL fell under $460 early and while it recovered from the day’s lows, it was unable to close above $460.  Some of the focus on price levels seems arbitrary, but the power comes from other people trading these same levels.  If everyone looks at $460 as support and places their stop-loss at $459, when the stock dips under this level, it sets off a chain reaction of stop-loss selling.  That is exactly what sent AAPL to $453 in early trade.

Between $460 and $485 the stock is in no-man’s land.  If it cannot regain $460, look for new lows.  If it climbs above $485, look for a run back to $500.  $500 will be a major milestone and significant resistance, but if it breaks through and holds above this level, the rebound is real.

AMZN turned premature shorts upside down again.  In cases like this is it better to be a little late to avoid getting whipped around.  AMZN is a legitimate short, but wait for the stock to dip under the 50dma first.  As long as it holds above this level, the stock is still a buy.

NFLX is within a couple of dollars of $200.  We are getting close to the end of this run and look for a pullback and consolidation before continuing higher.  I still wouldn’t short this stock, but taking profits here after it ran 100% in a few weeks is the smart move.

GOOG daily at end of day

GOOG daily at end of day

GOOG is making new all-time highs in an apparent, “what is bad for Apple is good for Google”.  GOOG is a money-printing machine, but most people forget they don’t make any money selling Android phones; it all comes after the fact from mobile search.  Google’s financial statements don’t care if you buy an Android phone or an iPhone, because both use Google as the default search engine.  This can change as we saw with Apple producing their own mapping application, but after that fiasco, I suspect Apple will think long and hard about replacing Google’s search on the iPhone.  Until then don’t get too excited about Android market share gains on the iPhone because it will not translate to the bottom line.

Stay safe

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About the Author

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.

Jon February 19, 2013

Closed out several winning positions ($GOOG, $BX) today and felt a twinge of regret as price continued to climb throughout the day. Was hard to sell into strength. Sitting on cash now and favoring more pullback buying opportunities rather than breakout.

Curious what your thoughts are on $SPY vs $IWM. Dec 28, 2012 they both started from the same point of relative performance, yet post fiscal cliff $IWM has outperformed $SPY substantially.

https://www.tradingview.com/x/nR4EWwzl/

I’m considering playing an index (for the first time) on the pullback to support, which we’re all anticipating. Thoughts on $SPY vs $IWM post-pullback? Also, thoughts on why $IWM has outperformed $SPY? Hedgies rotating money out of larger caps into small cap high beta longs before close of 1st quarter?

    Jani Ziedins February 20, 2013

    I follow the SPX just because it is the most visible and actively traded. The Russel offers even more exposure to small caps and I agree with your thoughts on the differences between of the two, this is a “risk on” environment and money is chasing beta. As for which to choose, they will perform similarly even if one does slightly better. I trade leveraged ETFs to spice up the modest return of the indexes and there are more products and liquidity in SPX derivatives. But that is just personal preference.

    BTW, making money is always better than losing money. The goal isn’t to top-tic the market, but make money as it swings between under-valued and over-valued. It is hard to say this market is still under-valued here, so we start taking profits. Once it gets a little more expensive, we look for opportunities to go the other way.

Ankush February 20, 2013

Hi,
I bought spxu to short the mkt at 30.57, should I hold onto it or sell it .thanks

    Jani Ziedins February 20, 2013

    The market probably has some upside left before a larger pullback forms. But that is just one man’s opinion. Use stops and price targets to get you out of this is a trade. If it is a hedge for the rest of your portfolio, then it has different goals and your trading plan should be based off of that.

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