The S&P500 is flirting with 1,890, setting record highs in midday trade before pulling back a few points. In the absence of prior levels to reference, traders are naturally drawn to round numbers and today 1,890 is providing overhead resistance.
Defying skeptics, this market is off and running yet again. So far it is only poking its head into new territory and shorts are not scrambling to cover their positions. Either they are sitting on their bearish positions, hoping this upward move stalls, or there are so few pessimists left to cover we are not seeing the typical short-squeeze.
But here is the thing, bears should be hoping for a swift surge higher. Trading sideways is constructive and supports a continuation. Exploding higher on one last dying gasp is the most bearish thing this market could do. There are no such things as triple-tops, so bears needs us to race to new highs if they want the market breakdown. And the opposite is true for bulls, they should root for modest and sustainable gains.
There is little headline fear left in this market, meaning we are not weighed down by some overhyped risk. This negates the profitable upside of something coming in less bad than feared. Taper, Crimea, interest rate hikes, the market is taking it all in stride and owners are unwilling to dump shares at a discount no matter what the headlines are screaming. Price moves often overreact on both the high and low side. Over reacting to uncertainty creates buying opportunities, but just as often we get too high and fall under their own weight when everyone is holding on for higher prices.
Then we complicate the situation by throwing timeframe in the mix. Sometimes the market is short-term bullish, medium-term bearish, and long-term bullish. We can go up for two-weeks, slip to 1,700 by mid-summer, and close next year above 2,100. Timeframe is what lets both bulls and bears be right at the same time (or both wrong if they impulsively react to the inevitable head fakes).
Expected Outcome: One last surge higher before stalling into the summer doldrums.
While this rebound could stall at any time, that would be a little too easy for bears. Often the market convinces us we are wrong just before proving us right. Once last short-squeeze would send bears running for cover, but the market would rollover not long after if buyers fail to rush in and buy record highs. Markets trade sideways around 60% of the time and being near the upper end of the trading range suggests we should be cautious since typical odds suggest we are more likely to fall back into the trading than race to 2,000.
Trading flat for the first quarter of the year took some froth out of last year’s hot market and allowed us to catch our breath. Sideways is an important part of moving higher and sometimes three months of consolidation is all we need.
This has been a “buy weakness, sell strength” market and there is no reason to think it has changed. As we break above old highs, we should be more inclined to sell the strength than chase the breakout. Longer viewed holders should keep holding, but the patient will likely find better prices in coming months if they are looking to add to their favorite positions.
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.