PM: Holding near recent highs

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Feb 06
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

The S&P500 continues holding 1500 and the uptrend remains intact.  AAPL is whipping traders around, NFLX is crushing shorts, and AMZN looks interesting.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks rebounded from early weakness and ended the day flat.  Volume was lower than Tuesday but still achieved respectable levels.  This was the 10th day the market traded at or above 1500 and it is creating solid, albeit volatile support around this level.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Bears and swing-traders tried to break this market after Tuesday’s strong rebound, but selling never picked up speed and the market finished where it started.  Bears inability to tempt holders into selling bodes well for a continuation.  Every attempted pullback shakes out weaker hands and this churn is what builds a foundation for the next move higher.

As much as people believe markets respond to fundamentals and technicals, prices only move because of actual buying and selling, also referred to as supply and demand.  Bears and bulls can talk until they are blue in the face, but it isn’t going to make a difference.  Only traders actually buying and selling move the market.  No matter how dire the headlines or substantial the bear’s case is, these last few selloffs failed to bring new supply to market, meaning current owners are fairly confident in their positions.  If current holders cannot be spooked out of the market, supply will tighten and prices head higher.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
The ceiling at 1515 is the next hurdle for the market.  The market bumped its head on this level the last four days and no doubt bears have positioned their stop-losses just above this level.  If we break through, expect a short-squeeze to propel stocks higher.

The near-term trend is clearly higher and support at 1500 indicates the high-probability trade remains to the upside.  The bigger question is how much further this can go.  1525 is easily within reach.  1550 is also on the table.  We will be pushing toward all time highs as we move up to 1575.

Maybe we will hit resistance at 1550 and experience a brief pullback before making an assault on all time highs, I can’t really say.  We will take this one-day at a time and adjust our expectations with each new data point.  Going forward from here, sideways trade is supportive of a sustainable rally.  If the rate of gains picks up, look for a blow off top before pulling back.

Alternate Outcome:
Bears calling for a pullback will eventually be right and most likely it will happen when we least expect it.  Most often this is long after people have given up calling for a pullback and the last of the bears concede defeat and jump on the rally bandwagon.  But ironically the last bears buying signals exhaustion and the market rolls over.  While this is most often how things play out, we could also see fear of this market dry up supply in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When too many traders are afraid of a pullback, they stop buying, and that triggers the pullback.

The big difference between those two scenarios is how deep and long the resulting pullback is.  A blow off top leads to a sharper, deeper, and longer pullback.  Buyers shying away from the market creates a modest dip that bounces back in days.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL had another roller coaster day.  Rumors of a dividend/buyback sent the stock up to $465, but it couldn’t hold those gains and closed down fractionally and the recent trading range of $435 to $465 remains intact.  The market will breakout one of these days, but in the meantime the best trade remains selling strength and buying weakness.  Anyone unwilling to sell their AAPL shares should consider selling options and take advantage of elevated premiums due to recent volatility.  Sell covered calls at the upper end of the range and puts at the lower end.  There is a lot of risk when selling options so this is best suited for experienced traders.

NFLX daily at end of day

NFLX daily at end of day

NFLX popped above recent resistance and added to its monster move, up 80% in just a few weeks.  Anyone lucky enough to be in this should consider taking some profits off the table.  The bigger concern is for anyone reckless enough to short this stock.  Momentum is clearly to the upside and while the stock could crash any moment, it could also jump above $200 tomorrow.  Someone not in this stock should resist the temptation to chase and instead wait for more stable support to form.  While this could continue higher, it could also come back $30 in the blink of an eye.

AMZN traded lower on light volume, but it is still above the 50dma.  Look for support and buy the bounce off the moving average.  The stock is getting extended, so don’t get greedy and take profits early and often.  For the bears, this stock’s day is coming, just not yet.  Remember early is the same thing as wrong, so wait for the right entry.

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 6, 2013

Hi Jani,

Do you use any other indicators apart from volume?

    Jani Ziedins February 8, 2013

    Any widely followed indicator loses its effectiveness when too many people trade off of it. Proprietary (and secret) systems can work for a while, but the thing I don’t like about mechanical systems is the market is always changing and a rigid system cannot keep up. Many people try to remove the emotion by following a system, but the market is far too complex to distill down to a handful of rules. My approach is more intuitive because the human mind is far more powerful than some system, calculation, or computer. Markets move for a reason and understanding the market’s mood is a big part figuring out what it will do next. Mechanical systems do not have a feel for the market, so I largely ignore them.

    I follow volume, moving averages, and support/resistance because so many other traders follow these they become self-fulfilling. It is also insightful when the market fails to respond to these key levels. In my mind success in the market is about understanding what the other guy is thinking and how he is positioned. But this is just the way I trade because it is consistent with the way I think and view the world. There are plenty of other ways to beat the market.

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