This was the largest weekly loss since the election, even beating out the final week of 2012 when Fiscal Cliff fears climaxed. Volume was also the highest of the year as holders wavered in their resolve and were selling by the truckload. The market finished just above the widely followed 50dma/10wma. The largest weekly gain immediately followed by the biggest selloff shows the market’s personality is chaining from the steady and predictable first quarter rally.
Was this week’s high-volume selloff the capitulation point before resuming the up-trend? Without a doubt that is one of the possible outcomes. Losing 60-points over a handful of days is more than enough to flush out weak hands. Buyers replacing the sellers are clearly not afraid of this market and proved willing to step in front of a freight train. Finding support at 1540 on Friday provided vindication for the buy-the-dip crowd, but is this real support or just a pause on the way lower?
True capitulation happens when emotional and irrational selling gets so carried away value investors can no longer resist and jump in, scooping up shares with both arms. Is that what happened here? Did we plunge far beyond sane levels and value investors were unable to hold back any longer? That is a hard case to make when we only broke through to these levels in March. Not a lot has changed in the ensuing weeks to make this 1540 level irresistible to value investors when they were uninterested in it six-weeks ago. Heck, things are actually a tad worse with dramatically slowing employment and the precedent set by the Cyprus bailout. There is no way value-buyers propped up the market on Friday when we are only 2.5% off of all-time highs and in the face of deteriorating economics.
If it wasn’t value investors, who was buying on Friday? Speculative dip-buyers. Every other dip this year was buyable and when people see something happen often enough, they start expecting it. The unfortunate thing for bulls is dip-buyers lack the conviction, confidence, and deep pockets of value investors. These late chasers opinions change with the wind and they will sell in droves as soon as the market moves against them. Only after the selling accelerates and prices drop precipitously will reliable value investors finally step in and prop up the market.
Even if the this market is built on a house of straw, we could continue higher for a few more days. Friday’s bounce will likely suck in another wave of dip-buyers, but look for the rebound to stumble when the limited supply of new buyers dries up. Retesting 1540 shows buyers are running out of strength and can no longer support further upside. A break of this key level will quickly send the market to 1500. From there it is just a hop, skip, and jump to 1450.
As we discussed in Friday’s PM post, bearishness is picking up, offsetting the widespread optimism seen a couple of weeks ago when we set record highs. Many of these pessimists are already out of the market and the aggressive went short, relieving potential selling pressure and making a move higher more likely. Churn in sideways trade is what makes flat bases work as the paranoid sell to the confident. Flat bases take longer to develop because they grind down optimists instead of frighten them with a sharp and decisive plunge.
If we hold 1550 through next week, bulls are stronger than most give them credit for and look for new highs. Selloffs develop quickly and the longer we stay at these levels the more likely a continuation is.
AAPL finally broke recent lows at $419 and plunged 9% on a fresh wave of selling. The sliver lining is this dropped first quarter’s expectations below the already low levels and reduces pressure on next week’s earnings. Failing to find a bottom is finally extinguishing hope and causing many AAPL evangelists to give up. Only after the most loved stock becomes the most hated does it stand a chance at bouncing. A disappointing earnings next week will trigger one last selloff and AAPL will finally be buyable. An earnings beat only prolongs the agony as the resulting bounce inevitably sells off. This move has nothing to do with fundamentals and the selloff won’t end until all the hopeful are finally driven off. Anything that delays this cleansing process puts off finding the bottom.
GLD found temporary support at $130 and finished at the highs of the weekly range, albeit down 6% for the week. Volume was the highest we’ve seen since the market top in 2011. Optimists will call this a capitulation bottom, and they might be right, but if a dip is too easy to buy, it is rarely the bottom. Anyone in GLD should use this strength to sell and wait to buy back in at lower prices.
Plant 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.