Monthly Archives: June 2013

Jun 28

PM: Calm before, or after the storm?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks bounced between 1600 and 1615 as the market searches for its next move.  We are currently stuck in the middle of support at 1600 and resistance at the 50dma.  Since both are widely followed levels, watch for a wave of breakout/breakdown trading when we move out of this range.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Trading sideways at first glance looks like a draw between bulls and bears, but in reality, stemming the selloff and holding recent gains is supportive of this market.  Selloffs are swift and rallies grind higher.  Trading sideways following recent gains is grinding and more consistent with a continuation than a breakdown.

Why did we bounce?  Most will point to comments by policy makers, but the only time words move markets is when they change people’s minds.  Remember, prices only move when people buy and sell, and people only buy and sell when they change their mind.  The question we must ask ourselves is if recent comments from Fed members changed OUR mind and outlook?  I expect most who were bears last week remain bears, and bulls are still bulls here.  The market didn’t bounce because someone reassured us, it bounced because after the emotional panic selling exhausted itself, no one else was changing their mind and we returned to equilibrium.

Source Yahoo Finance: 6/28/2013

Source Yahoo Finance: 6/28/2013

This is a difficult concept for many to grasp because it is so different from how we were taught to trade the markets.  We crave logical reasons behind market moves.  We want to read the news and understand right away how it will affect the market.  We want to see the market break key technical levels, setting up an easy momentum trade.  But any experienced trader knows the market doesn’t move reliably on technical or fundamental indicators.  That’s because the only thing that changes prices is buying and selling.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Focus on what people think and how they are positioned.  From there it is easier to understand these seemingly irrational moves. Focus on the crowd and the pieces start falling together.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The selloff fizzled and bounced because we ran out of sellers in what remains an overly-bearish market.  If it was as overly-bullish as most claim, we’d still be falling.  And beyond the price action, there is other evidence showing just how bearish the market remains.  A poll on Yahoo Finance today shows 64% of respondents are either out of the market or selling here, while just a third is putting money to work here. People claiming this market is overly-bullish are a dime-a-dozen while it remains difficult to find a real bull in the flesh.  

BBRY Sentiment: Source Stock Twits 6/28/2013

BBRY Sentiment: Source Stock Twits 6/28/2013

Alternate Outcome:
While this market isn’t overly-bullish, we could still collapse on lack of buyer confidence.  From there, emotion and panic consumes previously confident holders and they rush for the exits.  We saw that last week and could go through round two next week.  No one has a crystal ball and even the best often get it wrong.  The only thing that protects us from the emotional turmoil is our discipline and stops.

Trading Plan:
There are several ways to trade this market here.  A bull can buy and hold the break above 1600 with a tight stop under this level.  The bear should short falling to reclaim 1620 with a stop slightly above it.  The swing trader could lock in profits and wait for the break above 1620 or below 1600.  No matter what way we come at this market, expect volatility to continue and buy strength and sell weakness.  Keep taking profits early and often because they will likely evaporate days later.

Of course the easiest trade here is avoiding the summer chop all together.  We don’t need to participate in every market and too often we give back all our profits when we force trades in volatile markets.

BBRY daily at end of day

BBRY daily at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
The big trade of the day is BBRY‘s collapse.  I haven’t followed the stock closely, but I know it is a cult favorite and routinely challenges AAPL for the most tweeted stock on StockTwits.  The concern I have for any BBRY holders just how stubbornly bullish they remain.  Reading the $BBRY stream on StockTwits, it is really hard to find anyone with a negative outlook.  Everyone claims this is an overreaction that will bounce.  Others say new products are just around the corner and ready to make the stock surge.  But all I see is unbridled hope and optimism.  Where are the pragmatists?  Where are the doubters?  And to back up my observations, StockTwits sentiment indicator shows their users are 91% bullish and only 9% bearish.  I don’t recall ever seeing any other stock’s readings so heavily skewed and helps explain today’s 28% plunge.  One of the more insightful posts, even thought it was from a raging bull, said this stock will either go to $50 or $0.  Well, today’s price action is likely telling us which one.  Stay away from stocks everyone loves because that means there is no one left to buy.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 27

AM: What selloff

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 2:44 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:44 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks pushed toward 1620, recovering two-thirds of the Tapering selloff.  The market is just shy of the 50dma, which could act as overhead resistance for this three-day old rebound.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Buying opportunity, dead cat bounce, or sideways chop?  That’s the million dollar question.

The irrational, panic-driven selling ended when we bounced off 1560 Monday morning.  Since then we rallied 60-points on the back of dip-buying, short-covering, and seller exhaustion.  Talking heads attribute this strength to comments out of random Fed members and Japanese policy makers, but they overlook the simple fact market prices respond to nothing more than supply and demand.  It makes no difference what some policy maker says or doesn’t say, markets bounce when we don’t have enough supply to meet demand.  If markets reacted in logical and predictable ways to fundamental news, this stock market game would so much easier and we all know that’s not the case.

No one can accuse the market of discrimination because it is clearly an equal opportunity humiliator.  Last week bulls got whacked, this week it’s bears turn.  Anyone trying to make a directional bet in this chop is giving money away.  The best strategy in volatile periods is avoiding allegiances and biases.  Be an opportunist, not a bull or bear.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The market is stalling just shy of the 50dma.  Are we hitting our head or simply pausing while bears use this obvious resistance level to short the market?  We will know the answer soon enough.  Without a doubt some traders are selling this level, expecting another leg down, but the key is how the market responds to this challenge.  If it swallows all this selling as nothing more than a speed bump, that shows there is plenty of resilience left in this bounce.  If buying dries up and selling takes over, we are running out of dip-buyers.  No one has a crystal ball, but we can gain insights into trader’s views and positioning by how the market responds to these key levels.

Alternate Outcome:
As we just witnessed, the market likes to disguise its true intentions.  What looks like a bounce, ends up breaking down.  Something else appears like a crash, but it bounces back.  We trade moves through support and resistance, but we must be prepared to deal with the inevitable head fake.  This is a volatile and emotional market and it will send of plenty of false signals before revealing its true intentions.  Discipline is the only tool we have to get out of these head fakes in a timely manner.

Trading Plan:
The challenge putting on a trade here is we are in “everyman’s land”.  There is a solid case for the bull, bear, and swing-trader.  Bears can short the rebound to resistance.  Bulls can buy retaking major support at 1600.  And nimble-swing traders can lock in profits, look to add position if we break resistance, and short stalling at the 50dma.

There is really no wrong trade here as long as we follow our plan and honor our stops.  Bulls can buy/hold with a stop under 1600.  Bears can short with a stop above 1620.  And swing-traders can lock in profits and wait to trade the breakout/breakdown from the test of resistance.  We remain in a volatile market, so keep taking profits early and often.  And perhaps the easiest trade is taking the summer off.  Most traders give all their hard-earned profits back by forcing trades in emotional and volatile markets.

TSLA daily at 2:44 EDT

TSLA daily at 2:44 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
Institutional investors are not coming AAPL‘s rescue here.  Cash horde, dividend yield, absurdly low P/E, brand equity, ecosystem, pipeline, etc, none of it matters as the greatest buy of the decade keeps getting cheaper.  AAPL’s problem isn’t that no one believes in it, paradoxically it struggles because everyone believes in it.  Everyone loves the company and its products, but that also means they already own the stock and there is no one left to buy.  Stock prices are not driven by fundamentals, technicals, opinion, or any of that other stuff the talking heads obsess about.  They trade on supply and demand.  When everyone who wants some already has some, we run out of new demand and there is nowhere to go but down.

The same logic explains why GLD struggles here.  “Everyone needs some gold in their portfolio”  or at least that’s what some people say.  And that is great when gold is going up, but I’ve never been a fan of broad diversification in a trading account.  Does it make any sense to offset our winners with losers?  Own it when it works and dump it when it doesn’t and clearly gold is not working here.

TSLA is putting the hurt on bears again.  There is no logical reason to own this stock here, but it is suicidal to short this stock.  Between the astronomical short-interest and the all the shares tied up by management and loyal investors, this stock will not act rationally.  It will come down at some point, but not before it defeats and bankrupts all those bears.

Plan your trade; trade your plan 

Jun 26

AM: The squeeze is on

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 2:31 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:31 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Markets are up for a second day following Monday’s plunge.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Panic driven selling is taking a break, giving holders and prospective buyers the opportunity to think rationally and act deliberately.  Stability and sanity is supportive of markets and hopefully we reached a place where cooler heads prevail.  That doesn’t eliminate the possibility of further declines, but it greatly mitigates the probability of an out of control crash.

The market hates uncertainty and things it doesn’t fully understand.  There are times when we only see the tip of the iceberg, like the period building up to the 2008 Financial Crisis.  The market was oblivious to the underlying risks, leading to a large and painful selloff.  Right now the market is fretting over the timing of Tapering, but it is hard to claim that is an iceberg.  In fact, failing to taper will likely lead to greater risks of bubbles and inflation.  While some will argue we already passed that point, that is a different debate.  Even thought exact timing of Tapering is up in the air, we know it will happen at some point over the next few quarters and it will be a gradual implementation.  There are plenty of icebergs out there, but this is not one of them.

TRADING OPPORTUNITY
Expected Outcome:
The plunge trade is over as we recover 1600.  No one knows how high or long this bounce will last, so the best approach remains buying weakness, selling strength, and locking in profits.  Don’t chase market moves and take profits early and often.  In volatile periods, never feel bad about selling early and only capturing 20-points of a 50-point move.  Those that hold on too long will see all their profits evaporate days later.

It is easy to make money in the markets, the hard part is keeping it.  Traders reacting to these volatile swing are giving back months of profits.  Even if we sell early, I guarantee you locking in a 20-point gain is better than most who are riding the yo-yo of buying high and selling low.

Alternate Outcome:
This bounce could be nothing more than a bull trap on the way lower.  The market saw a nearly non-stop rally from 1350 and the recent selling is just scratching the surface of what could be a normal and healthy pullback.  The biggest challenge to the rally is hitting its head on 50dma resistance.  No one knows for sure what the future holds, the best we can do is identify opportunities and uses stops to protect us in case we are wrong.

Trading Plan:
The recent bounce is putting the squeeze on late shorts and recovering 1600 will keep the pressure on.  Look for resistance at 1620, consider locking in profits, and even go short if we run into a wall.  If the market breaks above the 50dma, look for a continuation to the middle of the 1600/1700 range.  Stay nimble, trade proactively, and take profits.

GLD daily at 2:30 EDT

GLD daily at 2:30 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL‘s struggles continues as it doesn’t enjoy today’s broad market strength.  We are under $400 and any dip buyers need to be extremely careful here.  On the other side shorts can press their luck with a stop above $400.  Many of the expected catalysts came and went without pumping life back into the stock.  Anyone who believes in this story is already fully invested and there are few prospective buyers left to bid up the stock price.  The biggest hope was placed on the dividend increase, but even that could not attract buyers willing to pay premium prices.

GLD fell out of bed again this morning.  This is an ugly trade for anyone who bought the bounce above $140 a couple of months ago.    Much like AAPL, Gold was an over owned asset.  Everyone who wants gold already has all they can hold, meaning there is no one left to buy.  Normally something falling so far creates a buying opportunity, but there is no reason to rush in and buy because there is still room for more panic driven selling.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 25

AM: Volatility continues

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:50 EDT

S&P500 daily at 1:50 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks recovered most of yesterday morning’s plunge and are just shy of 1590.  Obviously the market is volatile and that trend will likely continue.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The market hates being predictable.  The obvious bounce off 1600 fizzled and collapsed another 40-points, but not long after the obvious breakdown bounced right back.  The market has no allegiances will and humiliate both bulls and bears any chance it gets.    This behavior isn’t vindictive, simply a function of supply and demand.

When everyone anticipates the bounce off support, they keep holding, knowing it would be foolish to sell just before the market rebounds.  When it doesn’t, they rush for the exits at the same time as their stop-losses under support are triggered.  This wave of selling sends the market sharply lower.  But just when everything looks the most hopeless, the market bounces back because everyone already sold ahead of the expected market crash.  Once that wave of impulsive selling passes, there are few sellers left and the market bounces back.

Volatility will continue for a while as those paralyzed by fear and indecision during the previous plunge sell every bounce as the market recovers to levels they wish they sold at on the way down.  This entire process goes back and forth over a period of weeks with the amplitude diminishing with each whipsaw until stability and sanity returns and we continue the prior trend.

We might still see lower lows, but holding in this area for another day greatly mitigates the probability of a market crash.  The end of emotional selling and coming to terms with Tapering is what will let this market settle down, building the base for the next leg higher on improving economic news.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:

Holding 1560 through Wednesday is an encouraging sign the wave of selling is abating.  While the coast is never clear and there is no such thing as a safe time to invest, it shows much of the emotional selling is behind us.  Tomorrow could bring something new, but stability here shows the market is coming to terms with Tapering.

Buying the dip with a stop under yesterday’s low is not a bad trade if someone has an itchy trigger finger, but for the average person, trading the sideways chop is an exercise in futility.  Stay in cash, but if you have to trade, take profits quickly.

Alternate Outcome:
While the market might be coming to terms with Tapering, volatility in Asia is waiting to take us down.  No matter what we think, we initiate all new trades with defense in mind.  We cannot get it right every time and stop-losses are what keep us out of trouble.

AAPL daily at 1:50 EDT

AAPL daily at 1:50 EDT

Trading Plan:
Volatility will persist and we must lock in profits when we have them because they will likely be gone days, even hours later.  Yesterday’s 30-point dip didn’t even last 24 hours before most of it was reclaimed.  This applies to both bulls and bears.  Buy weakness and sell strength with stops just on the other side of support/resistance.  We must trade this market proactively, anyone reacting to the whips is going to give money away.

A dip under 1560 over the next two days likely means this market is pushing toward the 200dma, but barring that, assume the market put in a bottom.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL is not enjoying the broad market’s rebound and is just a few cents above $400.  This level is a major psychological milestone and expect many of the recent dip buyers to call it quits if drop much further.  The optimistic swing trader could trade the bounce off of $400 with a tight stop, but this is just a trade.  The stock is acting like the selloff is not done and look for a dip to $350 before all the hopefully are finally driven out of this name.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 24

PM: Still looking for a bottom

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks fell over one percent, continuing the recent selloff.  The silver lining is the midday bounce from much lower levels, but a loss is still a loss.  Volume was well above average as traders dump shares by the truckload.  There is modest support back near 1540 from March and April, but the next major level is the 200dma just above 1500.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Huge trading volumes over the last three-days as the market is anything but complacent.  The alleged rumor is Ben Bernanke yelled fire and everyone rushed for the exits.  Of course no one personally heard him say fire and is panicked simply because everyone else is.

The Fed is still has their foot on the gas and is pumping $85 billion of liquidity into the markets and will continue buying bonds well into next year, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  As we’ve long discussed on this blog, markets don’t trade fundamentals, they trade investor perceptions.  Right now investors are acting like three-year olds, throwing a tantrum because Uncle Ben won’t promise easy money for ever and ever.  Without a doubt the market is overreacting, but doesn’t mean the selling will stop and we could easily see another couple of legs lower before this is all said and done.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The high volume selling is flushing out many previously confident holders, creating the next pool of buyers to push this market higher in the future.  But that is still a ways out.  The real savior of this market will be the deep pocketed value investor who sold out when values got too rich last month and is eager to buy back in at these discounted levels.  The biggest question is if these levels are too attractive to resist yet.  Once their buying puts in a bottom, the panic selling will subside.

Given the huge flush in volume, I’d say we are getting close to the capitulation point where most of the weak hands sold impulsively to far more confident value investors willing hold through some uncertainty.  Of course the bottom will remain volatile and we should continue buying weakness and selling strength.

Alternate Outcome:
The market can continue selling and there is nothing more unnerving than seeing our accounts meltdown before our eyes.  Everyone has their breaking point and even the most resolute holder will cave if we keep falling.  The only thing that protects us is our stop-losses and hopefully no one has ridden this down all the way from the peak.

Trading Plan:
The aggressive can continue buying the dip with a tight stop under recent lows, but for the rest of us, the safer play is waiting for the market to bottom.  Wherever this ends, we will likely consolidate sideways and there will be plenty of time to buy back in over coming weeks and months.  In the meantime, both bull and bear should take profits early and often as the volatility will continue for the remainder of the summer.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 24

AM: Continued weakness

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 2:30 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:30 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sold off hard, continuing last week’s slide to 1560, but found a bottom and reclaimed 1580 by late afternoon.

MARKET SENTIMENT
There was no obvious news catalyst for today’s selloff and it is simply a continuation of the pain trade as previously confident holders are running for cover.  Markets overreact on both the high and low side.  This selloff is the snap back from recent gains and will likely overshoot to the downside before bottoming.  What level qualifies as overshooting is up to interpretation and where all the money is made.  Maybe we are already oversold and ready to bottom, or only in the middle of this selloff.  That is the sport and challenge of trading.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
The recent selloff is a great example of how valuable trailing stops and stop-losses are.  The market retreated to levels first seen in early April and anyone who failed to lock-in gains took a round-trip.  We’re in this to make money and the only way to do that is selling our winners when we least want to.  On the other side, shorts who stubbornly fought this market were vindicated by recent weakness but at what cost?  In the market early is the same thing as wrong.  We all come to the markets with opinions and ideas, but we must trade the market we are given and often that means admitting mistakes and taking small and calculated losses. Successful traders are not bulls or bears, but opportunists.

I was looking for a bounce near 1600 and clearly that didn’t happen, but that is the nature of this beast.  We take our licks, cover for a modest loss, and keep looking for the next trade.  No one is right on every trade and why planning our exit is the most important part of any new position.  The aggressive trader can try the dip again with a stop under recent lows, but most are better off waiting for the market to prove itself.

I still think this selloff is an overreaction to the inevitability of Tapering, but this weakness is therapeutic and taking the QE risk off the table in a sell the rumor, buy the news setup.  The market is always looking ahead and will already be looking past Tapering by the time it actually happens.

Alternate Outcome:
The market is clearly weak here and we must remain defensive.  If the market doesn’t find support quickly, the 200dma is the next level to challenge.  Selling begets selling and no matter what common sense or fundamentals show, crowds rush for the exit at the same time and the resulting selloffs are often breathtaking.

Trading Opportunity:
Obviously this is a volatile market and the best trade remains locking in profits before they evaporate.  A cocky bull or bear will get steamrolled, so use your ego as a guide.  Take profits when you feel most confident.

A dip-buyer can try again with a stop under 1560.  It is a little late to jumping on the short bandwagon and existing shorts should move down their trailing stop to make sure they don’t give back these well deserved profits in a bounce.

AAPL daily at 2:30 EDT

AAPL daily at 2:30 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL‘s weakness persists as it broke $400 this morning.  The value buy of the decade struggles to regain upward momentum and is likely a victim of its own success.  When everyone loves a company, they already own it, leaving few new buyers to continue pushing the stock up.  It is a great company, but the stock was too popular for its own good.  If we cannot hold $400, the next level to watch is $350 and would be a 50% selloff from recent highs.  Any AAPL bull should have bailed when the stock failed to hold the 50dma.  Support at $400 is an interesting place for a dip-buyer to swing-trade a bounce with a stop under $400.

TSLA is still holding strong and any short should run for cover.  Climax tops collapse quickly and this stock doesn’t look ready to collapse.  With so many traders short this stock and a large percentage of the float in the hands of management and loyal investors, another short squeeze seems far more likely than a collapse.

GLD is holding up in the face of market weakness as last week’s plunge sucked out most of the downside in a single move.  Look for further consolidation, but the trend is still lower and it is better to bet on a continuation than a reversal.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 21

AM: Support or bull trap?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:51 EDT

S&P500 daily at 1:51 EDT

AM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks jumped around following yesterday’s plunge, showing early gains, slipping into the red by midday, and recovering losses by early afternoon.  Given yesterday’s 2.5% slide, this morning’s 0.5% dip was relatively benign.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Buy the dip or short the weakness?  That’s the question on everyone’s mind.

Markets pullback and this one is no exception.  They also rebound after every selloff and so will this one.  And to think some people claim it is impossible to predict the market!  All joking aside, the hard part is figuring out the timing of these “obvious” moves and is where all the money is made and lost.  Plenty of bears are beating their chest, proclaiming to the world how right they are.  Of course they forget to mention they’ve waited months for this pullback and missed the majority of the recent rally, and those are the lucky pessimists, many actually lost money shorting this bull.  But they’ve waited this long, so lets give them their moment in the spotlight.

People trade the market for many different reasons.  Some do it for the gambler’s rush, other need to be right, and a few are simply here to make money.  While it is impossible to leave our ego at the door, I’m in this to make money.  That means I am flexible in my analysis and quick to switch views when presented with new information.  It’s okay to be wrong, but it is fatal to stay wrong.  I did this following April’s bounce off the 50dma when I was bearish and expecting a breakdown.  That was the perfect setup to selloff and when it didn’t happen as expected, my analysis was obviously flawed and I quickly changed sides to the bull camp.  But that was then and this is now.  Given the recent weakness, what do we do here?

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Expected Outcome:
If any think this prelude means I am changing sides, they will be disappointed.  I remain flexible and open-minded about this market, but in late May I shifted gears from rally mode to sideways chop.  So far everything I see fits within that model and until further notice, I will continue buying weakness and selling strength.

Trading chop is the most difficult way to make money in the market.  There is no set-it-and-forget-it.  The key to surveying periods like this is taking profits early and often because a few days later they will evaporate. And of course the most conservative approach to this market is to sit in cash and wait for the next directional trade.

Alternate Outcome:
Without a doubt bears could be right here.  Every rally ends at some point and this one is no exception.  While we can buy weakness, always trade with defense in mind and keep a stop under recent lows.  Aggressive bears can press their shorts, but move your trailing stop down and don’t let those hard-earned profits evaporate.

Trading Plan:
Game plan is buying the dip.  This morning’s rebound gives an interesting entry point with a stop under this morning’s lows.  10-points of risk for a potential 50-point gain if we recover the “Tapering” selloff.  For bears, a lot of selling is behind us and today’s stability shows many who wanted to sell are already out.  No doubt we could continue selling off, but if we assume the market will remain volatile, taking profits early is the best way to stay ahead of the market.

AAPL daily at 1:51 EDT

AAPL daily at 1:51 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL’s out-performance yesterday is offset by today’s underperformance.  The stock lost support at the 50dma and keeps pushing toward $400.  The recent low was $385 and breaking this will like result in another leg down to $350.  Stocks that cannot go any lower usually do, but this shouldn’t be an issue for the disciplined bull who sold the break of the 50dma.

GLD is trading sideways following yesterday’s plunge.  A couple of days ago I said we could short a break of $130, but that was if the commodity rolled over.  The gap lower took a big chunk of the short profit with it and we should expect sideways chop in the $120s.  Clearly the trend remains lower and anyone buying the dip is trying to catch a falling knife.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 20

PM: Hope, fear, and opportunity

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks crashed spectacularly in the largest selloff of the year.  Volume was off the charts as we undercut all the stop-losses clustered under the 50dma, 1600, and 1598.

MARKET SENTIMENT
As sick as the market feels, we are still within 6% of all-time highs.  For bears that means plenty of downside remains.  For bulls this is just another routine dip on the way higher.  And who knows, both could be right if we selloff a bit more before rebounding to new highs this fall.

Markets often reverse on a capitulation bottom.  This is the largest decline and highest volume of the entire selloff; the classic pain trade.   Many previously confident traders are persuaded into selling because the market hit their stop-loss, or alternately they just can’t take the pain of seeing their account fall any further.  But the thing to remember is markets only go down on new selling.  If the recent plunge triggered a majority of the stop-losses and shook out a large chunk of holders sitting on the fence, the supply of available sellers might be drying up.

I very well could be the biggest idiot in the room for seeing opportunity in this slide, but that comes with the territory of being a contrarian.  I will be the first to admit I can be wrong, but that’s what stops are for.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Any disciplined bull should be out of the market, either because they sold recent strength, or they were stopped out on the way down.  The advantage of being in cash at times like this is it gives us the clarity to see the next trade.  Anyone still holding is jumping between hope and fear and that is clearly a poor way to trade the market.

I still think we are closer to the end of this selloff, but we can wait to buy the rebound above 1600 and there is no reason to force a trade in this volatile, sideways market.  Sitting on cash is a legitimate position.  Remember, it is easy to make money in the markets, the hard part is keeping it.  Don’t do anything stupid.

Alternate Outcome:
We sliced through support on our way to 1588.  This is finally a legitimate place to put on a short trade with a stop above recent support.

Trading Plan:
A bear can put on a short with a stop above 1600.  Anyone already sitting on short profits should consider locking in some of those gains or at least move their stop down to 1600.  We are in this to make money and the only way we can do that is by selling our winners.

Bulls should wait to buy the bounce above 1600.  Our plan this summer is selling strength and buying weakness.  This certainly qualifies as weakness, we just need to wait for the right opportunity.

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL daily at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL continued its slide under the 50dma, but its loss was less than the broad market as it actually out performed on a relative basis.  While encouraging, that is not a valid reason to buy or hold this weakness.  Any disciplined bull should be out of this stock and waiting for the rebound back above the 50dma.  On the other side, a bear can short with a stop above the 50dma.

Gold’s 7% selloff would normally be one for the history books, but unfortunately for gold-bugs it is simply par for the course this spring.  The last few years gold was bought to protect against a weak economy, a strong economy, inflation, and deflation.  Now it is a sell for all the same reasons.  Obviously gold was nothing more than a momentum trade and that momentum has turned.  I’m not sure if there is enough downside to justify shorting GLD here, but those hoping for a rebound to previous levels will be waiting a long time.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 20

AM: The start, or the end?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 2:29 EDT

S&P500 daily at 2:29 EDT

AM Update:

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks continued sliding this morning, but found support just above 1600 in midday trade.

MARKET SENTIMENT
Is Chicken Little finally right?  Every other prediction of doom and gloom this year was met with a powerful rebound, will this time be any different?  This is the “overly-bullish” market everyone loves to hate; but if the crowd hates it, can it really be overly-bullish?

Weeks ago we identified the 1600-1700 trading range and so far this “plunge” is still within the expected range.  Everyone is tempted to sell the least surprising Fed statement that QE continues at full speed but tapering is in the future.  If that caught anyone by surprise, clearly they are not paying attention.  No doubt some of the disappointment stems from hope Bernanke would be more supportive of QE and dispel rumors of tapering later this year, but should a few months here or there radically change our investment thesis?  Some people seem to think so, but aren’t these the pessimists already out of the market and actively short it?  Should we really trust what they have to say?

We can safely ignore people promoting their existing biases because they already placed their trades and are simply along for the ride.  The only traders controlling the market are the ones changing their minds.  Maybe they are rationally evaluating new information and acting on it, or maybe they are impulsively reacting to market moves, but either way, only people actively buying and selling are driving prices.

Every dip this year ended in a bounce when we ran out of sellers.  When everyone expects a market top, they sell ahead of it, taking excess supply with them.  By the time the expected event rolls around, there is no one left to sell, keeping supply tight and we have nowhere to go but higher.  Will it be different this time?  The market obsessed over “tapering” for more than a month and the recent 5% slide flushed out many weak holders.  Given that setup, I have a hard time identifying where the next incremental seller comes from.  The only thing left is an irrational rush for the exits, but so far the majority of holders demonstrated a willingness to own stocks in the face of recent weakness.  There are no guarantees in the market, but calm and confident holders make the rebound far more likely than a collapse.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Everyone wants a strong market to pullback so they can buy more, but every time the market pulls back, they get scared and chicken out.  Anyone following our game-plan of taking profits early and often in this volatile trading range can use today’s dip as a great entry with a tight stop under support.  This will be a choppy summer and if we fail to capture profits when we have them, they will likely evaporate days later.

Alternate Outcome:
This market will breakdown at some point because every market does.  While markets rarely collapse when everyone expects it, we need to play defense so close to major support.  Everyone is watching 1600 and many have stop-losses under this key level.  Breaking it could trigger an avalanche of stop-loss orders sending us sharply lower.

GLD daily at 2:29 EDT

GLD daily at 2:29 EDT

Trading Plan:
The dip is buyable until the market tells us otherwise.  A lot of selling happened over the last couple of days and weeks, meaning there are fewer nervous holders left to flood the market.  We might dip under 1600 in one last flush before bouncing back into the trading range, but the dip is buyable with a tight stop under 1595.  Only short the market if we accelerate through 1595 and no one is buying the dip.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
GLD  was hammered today.  The safety trade is leading the plunge and demonstrates why we don’t try to catch falling knives.  There are a lot of owners still hanging on and hoping for the bounce, meaning there are plenty of sellers left.

AAPL is down, but less than the broad market.  Failing to hold recent support is troubling and any disciplined long is already of out this stock.  If it bounces, we can easily jump back in, but there is no excuse to rid this stock lower.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

Jun 19

PM: Sell the hype?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sold off on average volume and finished under 1630 following the Fed’s policy statement and Bernanke’s comments.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The Fed shocked everyone when it announced it would eventually unwind QE.  Okay, all sarcasm aside, the market was disappointed Ben didn’t do more to appease it by promising easy money as far as the eye could see.  The funny thing is many of the people who last year claimed another round of QE wouldn’t work because of diminishing returns and inflation are the same ones saying this market will implode as soon as the QE punch bowl is taken away.  Last year QE didn’t matter, now it is the only thing that matters.  Once a pessimist, always a pessimist.

As we discussed earlier, this gradual ramp of expectations into the inevitable tapering is good for market stability   All the talk of QE ending is already pricing it in and the actual event will be a non-issue, but that is then and this is now.  What should we expect in coming days and weeks?  Is the bubble finally deflating, or is this just another bump in the road?

Average volume showed not many were rushing for the exits.  Markets only move when people change their minds and trade their new outlook. If we expect a directional move here, we need to identify who is changing their mind.  Was the Fed’s policy statement and Bernanke’s comments so out of line from expectations that a large wave of traders are changing from bullish to bearish, or bearish to bullish?  That is a hard argument to make since the Fed’s statement was nearly a word-for-word carbon copy of past statements.  The only notable change is positive comments about the economy.   Talk about a bizarro world we live in when traders are afraid of good economic news.

If bulls and bears are not changing their minds on these headlines, today’s selloff was simply event traders pushing around the market.  Without follow-on selling from a larger pool of holders, look for the selloff to stall and bounce back into the trading range.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
Volatility was expected and pulling back after recent gains shouldn’t surprise anyone.  We anticipated a summer trading range and so far this market is following the plan.  Look for it to bounce somewhere between here and support at 1600.  The more anxious the crowd gets over the selloff, the quicker it will end.

Alternate Outcome:
While a bounce seems likely since this news changes few minds, we must be prepared for the inevitable selloff.  At some point we will run out of buyers and without demand, nothing else matters.

Trading Plan:
We might see further downside, but look to buy the weakness with a tight stop under support.  We could temporarily dip under the 50dma and the rebound back above it is the buy signal.  Anyone short this market should cover and lock in gains.  Profits are fleeting for both bulls and bears in this sideways chop, so take them early and often before they evaporate.

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL daily at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS
AAPL broke recent support and anyone trading the bounce off the 50dma should be long gone by now.  The inability to stage a comeback after holding the 50dma for nearly two-months shows few are interested in buying the dip.  Further weakness will likely trigger more stop-loss selling and a test of support at $400 is the next stop.

GLD tanked on hints of the end of easy money.  Runaway inflation is a core tenet of the gold-bug’s investment thesis.  Without monetary instability  there are few reasons to own a useless metal brick.  Violating recent lows could trigger another wave of selling, but if the market fails to collapse after making new lows, it shows we are running out of sellers and the dip is buyable.  In this case, let the price action be our guide.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

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