Yellen spooks the market

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Mar 19
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Analysis

It was a quiet day up until Janet Yellen rattled the markets with her first press conference.  Stocks plunged dramatically to 1,850, but found support at this key level and bounced off the lows by the close.  The intraday range stretched nearly 25-points, but the market finished down just 11.5 points.

Yellen was supposed to be more dovish than Bernanke, but her revelation that interest rates could be raised within six-months of the end of QE was faster than many expected.  This means we could see short-term interest rates increased as soon as a year from now.  But most likely the market overreacted to this news.  Number one, the Fed would only make this move if the economy is improving enough to withstand higher rates.  And two, going from zero percent to one percent still counts as stupid low rates by historic standards.  This is nowhere near the four and five percent rates that are used to throw cold water on overheated economies.

Expected Outcome: Stocks are at the upper end of the recent range and vulnerable to falling back into it
As traders we should embrace market overreactions because that is what profit opportunities are made of.   If stocks were always priced appropriately, then we couldn’t make money except through dumb luck.  The question now becomes if the overreaction will be to the upside or the downside.  Will the market continue ignoring risk as it pushes to new highs?  Or will traders develop an irrational fear of Yellen and run for cover every time she steps near a microphone?  Given how quickly traders brushed off conflict with the world’s largest oil producer, I don’t expect the market to panic over Yellen’s comments either.  But rather than think for the market, we will let it decide for itself.  If the selloff builds momentum, we could see another Taper Tantrum like selloff.  If we hold these levels tomorrow, then the Fed meeting is already old news.  When the market gets upset, it is painfully obvious and it won’t take long to tell what the market is thinking.

Trading Plan:
If the market holds these levels tomorrow, we’ll probably drift up to 1,900 before demand becomes an issue.  Crash through 1,850 and previously confident owners might not remain so confident.  Be careful with long positions here since the upside is far more limited than the downside.

Plan your trade; trade your plan


About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, 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 children.