Stocks closed flat for the week, up less than 2-points. The range was tight, 0.7%, with a low of 1514 and high of 1525; both of these levels representing near-term support and resistance.
Exchange volume was right around average, but since it was option expiration week, volume was actually a little light. The slow trade allowed the 10-week moving average to catch up and it is now just 48-points under the market and the slower moving 50-week moving average is trailing by 110 points.
Holders have not been interested in selling this market. We’ve seen multiple dips to support, but nothing achieves critical mass and inevitably rebounds quickly. If there was one trade that worked well with the indexes the last couple months, it’s buying anything, dips or not. A few weeks ago traders were afraid of this too-far, too-fast market, but now that every sale, stop-loss, and short has been a mistake, cynics are finally coming around. But the thing to be careful of is this shift in sentiment is what causes an intermediate market top; after everyone buys, demand dries up, and stocks dip.
There were tons of reasons not to buy this market a few weeks ago, but a relentless series of new highs is giving traders amnesia. Everyone isn’t sold on this market yet, but they are coming over in larger numbers with each passing day. How much longer this can keep up is the big question.
I don’t expect the market to collapse because there are still too many cynics remaining, but there is no more effective persuader than seeing everyone else make money. This means there are two ways we can move ahead. One is directly and the other is after a nerve rattling dip. Straight up will suck in the last of the fence-sitters and exhaust demand in one final push higher. Typically this happens on the largest weekly gains we’ve seen since the early days of the rally. This would be the quickest route to a material pullback.
The slower, but more sustainable trade would be dipping dramatically to flush out some of this new-found complacency. To continue sustainably the market needs to shake out recent buyers and tempt aggressive bears to short the market. Once this limited selling runs its course, look for the market to find support and resume its rally. A mid-rally dip like this could last a couple of weeks before resuming higher, but expect it to feel like the real selloff because that sense of panic is what will refresh the rally.
Look for near-term weakness from a sustainable rally or a strong push higher out of a topping pattern. We are half way through the first quarter, meaning there are at most six-weeks left in this move, and possibly less. The conservative trade is taking profits and the aggressive trade is squeezing out a little more. If you like sleeping at night sell some stocks, if you enjoy the thrill of the chase, tighten up your stops and get ready to hang on.
The advantage of selling into strength is you don’t have to guess if a dip is just a dip or the start of a real selloff. Chances are weakness next week will be another buying opportunity, but there are no guarantees and the aggressive trader will have to decide wither or not to sell.
The market is not always predictable and a strong break higher could be a buying opportunity, but that is a low probability trade and one I’ll just have to sit out. I don’t need to make all the money, just the easy stuff.
AAPL finally had a down-week after two-weekly gains following the post-earnings plunge. Was this two-week rebound the dead-cat bounce or is this week’s weakness just a dip on the way higher? The stock ran into psychological resistance at $485 and is currently retesting support at $460. A dip under $460 would trigger more stop-loss and short-selling, pushing the stock back down to recent lows of $430. To resurrect this stock from the dead, it will need to regain and hold $500, but in the near-term the stock will make for a far better swing-trade than buy-and-hold investment. Buy the dips and sell the rallies and the stock swings between extremes of hope and despair.
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.