The yo-yo continues as we dropped into the 1540s this morning. The key level of support is 1540 and expect a wave of selling to hit the market if we break this widely followed price. If we test 1540, this would be the third time in a month and technical analysis books rarely mention tripple-bottoms because third-tests are less likely to hold.
No one is winning this maddening market and both sides are humiliated with equal malice. Anyone with an opinion is at risk of being duped into buying high and selling low, or selling low and buying high for the bears. There are three traders surviving this, the extremely nimble day-trader catching each wave, the longer viewed trader with conviction in their position, and the guy who admits he has no clue and is sitting it out. Anyone else forcing trades and reacting to the market is getting destroyed.
Bulls are humble, bears are humble, and we need to figure out what comes next. These sharp dips are shaking the confidence of previously resolute bulls. A large part of the recent rally was driven on light volume as holders were unwilling to sell and the resulting tight supply drove prices higher. Every dip bounced back and holders became complacent toward negative headlines and market weakness. It worked because every dip was on such light volume it was easy for the remaining dip buyers to prop up the market. But volume returned last week and selling swamped dip buyers, triggering selloffs not seen since the rally began.
Volatility is often a characteristic of market tops and we have that in spades. The question is at what point will the market break the confidence of complacent holders. If supply remains tight, it will be far easier for dip buyers to keep the rally alive. But if the flood gates open, there is a lot of air between us and the 200dma.
One day it feels like the market is breaking down, the next the rally is back on. What is a trader to do? I remain cautious of this market because I see too many warning signs between the age of the rally, indifference toward negative headlines, and the perception every dip is a buying opportunity. While I might be proven wrong, that doesn’t mean I need to participate in this rally. If we don’t understand something or feel comfortable with it, the best thing to do is sit it out.
Yesterdays bounce was impressive, but bulls could not add to it today and we undercut Monday’s lows. It feels like bulls are losing this battle and selling will accelerate if we slip through all the stop-losses under 1540. Between the market’s weakness, Gold’s plunge, and AAPL’s dip to $400, it is harder to remain an obliviously confident bull. Expect supply to continue hitting the market as bulls lose their nerve.
It is easy to hate this market here, a little too easy. Yahoo Finance had a poll on their homepage and almost 60% of the responders expected the market to go down. Of course this was after Monday’s plunge and that obviously skewed the results, but the widespread pessimism is bullish. This volatile, sideways trade is flushing out a lot of traders and creating a new pool of buyers for the next rally leg. The market bounced back from several attempted breakdowns and another rebound shows bears cannot get it done. Breakdowns happen quickly and regaining 1570 yet again shows there is more fight left in this bull.
AAPL finally broke $419 and stop-loss selling put sent it in free-fall to $400. This selloff actually benefits AAPL bulls because it further lower expectations and makes an earnings beat next week more likely. Of course the big risk is if AAPL fails to reach the already extremely low expectations. Option spreads are the safest way to trade earnings, but the better trade is waiting until after earnings. An earnings surprise will send the stock back above $450 over several days. A miss will push it to $350, but this will likely be the last selloff and the stock will finally be buyable after everyone gives it up for dead.
GLD is treading water as margin calls abate, but few are willing to buy the dip. Given the level of damage Gold did to traders’ psyches and portfolios, expect it to stay in the dog house for a while.
Plan your trade; trade your plan
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.