Stocks dipped under 1,890 after setting record highs earlier in the session. Following four-consecutive up-days, it is not alarming to have a modest down day.
So far this weakness has not opened the floodgates of selling and we gently drift lower as most owners show little concern and resist selling. If recent headlines didn’t spook them, an 8-point dip from record highs is unlikely to either.
I’ve been waiting for a short-squeeze to launch us to new heights, but so far we haven’t seen bears rush for cover. We are only a few points above previous highs, so many might be holding on in the hopes this move will reverse lower. If a person believes in the “pain trade”, we haven’t seen real pain yet and both bulls and bears are confidently sitting on their positions.
There are few upside catalysts left for this market since it has largely priced in any and all good news on the horizon. While there are risks out there, few owners are willing to sell at a discount because they have been conditioned to expect higher prices in the near-term. Every time they sold scary headlines or weakness in the last 18-months was a mistake and they are determined not to do it again. While many claim complacency leads to a top, it is actually a bullish catalyst. When owners refuse to sell for any reason, that keeps supply tight and makes it very easy for the market to rally. Markets don’t top on owners’ complacency, but lack of demand from buyers. To figure out where this market is headed, we need to spend more time focusing on the opinion of those sitting in cash than those owning stocks. Given how far we are away from levels that value investors find attractive makes us vulnerable to slipping on light demand once the momentum crowd catches up to this market and becomes fully invested.
Expected Outcome: At the upper end of an extended consolidation and trading range.
While we might see a short squeeze in the near-term, with so few upside catalysts remaining, we will likely continue trading sideways for the remainder of the quarter. Unfortunately for many recent buyers, trading sideways means holding within the recent trading range that goes as low as 1,750. We don’t get paid for owning sideways markets and this is a better place to be locking in recent gains than initiating new positions.
Momentum is a powerful thing and carries us far higher and longer than anyone expects. There is enough money sitting on the sidelines following the 2008 market collapse that is finally warming up to the market. While that is a long-term bullish catalyst and will likely lead to a decade-long secular bull market, we will see periodic selloffs and even bear markets along the way. While we can easily continue higher, stay vigilant.
Long-term investors should ignore these intermediate fluctuations, but they should hold off making new purchases since the patient will likely see lower prices over the next 6-months. Short-term traders should consider locking in profits or using a trailing stop to protect recent profits. Bears should be rooting for a strong short-squeeze that ultimately fizzles after sucking in the last of the demand. Failure to hold those gains is the signal to go short.
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.