Stocks recovered some of yesterday’s selloff, ending the steady stream of selling, but feelings of uneasiness remain. We are still stuck near 1640, which provided support last week. Often what was support becomes resistance and today’s rebound could stall at this level. Of course support/resistance is proportional to the number of times the market bounces off a level. By that measure 1640 not all that meaningful and is a speedbump at best, but in a weak market it might only take a speedbump to derail this bounce.
Yesterday’s selloff caught everyone by surprise and the dip-buying crowd held off, waiting to see how much better prices would get. The widespread anxiety didn’t come from what we’ve debated for months, but something new and unexpected. While events unfolding in Syria will likely have a limited economic impact over here, it is a new risk factor not previously priced in and is what made people so uncomfortable. We’ve been debating Taper for so long that everyone already made up their mind, but Syria is new and people didn’t have time to cement their opinions. Add in the pressure from a declining market and many simply chose to sell the uncertainty.
All of this leaves us in a delicate position. Most people rationally realize Syria will be a non-factor just like Libya and Egypt, but markets hate uncertainty and all this political grandstanding is exaggerating the situation. Expect the market to remain volatile in the build up to a conflict, but rally after the start of military operations when everything becomes quantifiable.
The one way selloff ended, but we are not out of the woods yet. Four percent from all-time highs is hardly oversold and there is plenty of air beneath us, so jumping all over this rebound is still a risky trade and counts as picking a bottom. While I am not worried about Syria, the crowd’s shifting sentiment concern me. Previously confident holders are no longer greedily expecting new highs and are considering selling for the first time in a while. Sometimes we don’t need a reason to sell other than everyone else is selling and that is what I am wary of. While I still think recent weakness is creating a buying opportunity, I would rather be a little late than a lot early. I remain optimistic in the medium-term, but recent weakness leaves me cautious.
Every dip is buyable until it isn’t. We all know this rally is coming to an end and most of the times it is a fairly innocuous event that marks tops and bottoms. If tops and bottoms were obvious it would be easy to make money in the markets and we all know that is not the case. Yesterday’s “plunge” came on barely average volume, showing many holders continue holding. The risk is if we add in a little more weakness, that dam of confidence will shatter in a cascade of selling.
Stay cautious as momentum remains with the bears. The Syria situation is overblown but markets rarely act rationally in the face of new and uncertain events. If the market rebounds to 1700, there will be plenty of time to get on board, so wait for stability and sanity to come back before buying the dip. Our goal is to make the easy money, not buy the bottom. Don’t forget, we remain in the choppy summer market and both bulls and bears should continue locking in profits early and often.
AAPL slipped under $500 on yesterday’s weakness and how the stock responds to this level in coming days will be revealing. Will big money come in and buy discounted shares at $490, putting a floor under the stock? Or did everyone and anyone buy all the AAPL they could hold in the recent rebound and we are rolling over from a lack of follow-on buying? I’m still fearful of a buy the rumor, sell the news going into the Sept product launch. The iPhone5c is the worst kept secret since an Apple employee left an iPhone4 prototype in a bar a couple of years. Anyone buying in anticipation of a “cheap” iPhone surge will likely be disappointed unless Apple hits us with something revolutionary that hasn’t already been leaked out.
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.