Finally time to buy the dip?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Apr 11
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Analysis

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks sliced through any semblance of support as the selloff continues.  We fell over 80-points from the all-time highs set last Friday.  This includes breaking the 50dma Thursday and continuing lower on Friday.

MARKET SENTIMENT
It is hard for the financial press to come up with a justification for this selloff other than “profit taking”.  There are no fundamental headlines dominating trading rooms and it largely seems like people are selling for no other reason than everyone else is selling.  The high-flyers are taking it the hardest, down 20 and 30%.  Some claim the death of these mo-mo stocks signals the end of this bull run, but here is the thing, markets typically top when the hottest stocks continue higher while everything else drops back.  During the dot-com boom, brick-and-mortar companies were shunned while everyone was piling into speculative internet stocks.  Today we have the opposite.  The momentum darlings are down double digits while the broad market only slipped a few percent.  Is this the end of the bull market?  Not if we use history as a guide.

Stocks fall for only two reasons, waves of selling or lack of demand.  A rush of sell orders is the stereotypical selloff and fairly intuitive.  This is when everyone hits the sell button at the same time and that surge of supply overwhelms demand, crushing prices.  The less intuitive reason prices fall is lack of demand.  This is when most traders still believe in the market, but prices come under pressure because prospective buyers wait patiently for more attractive prices.  

Surges of buying and selling often see volume leap 30 and 40% above average, but over this 80-point slide, the most elevated volume we’ve seen was 8% above average.  That hardly qualifies as a mass exodus.  The lack of huge selling volumes suggests most owners are confidently sitting through this weakness and these price declines are largely driven by lack of demand.  This is important because it gives us insight into where we are headed next.  

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome:
There are two kinds of selloffs, those driven by fearful headlines and those that seem to fall for no reason at all.  This week’s selloff  lacks a fundamental catalyst and these mysterious selloffs are primarily caused by supply and demand imbalances.  All of the big selloffs people remember and fear are triggered by a fundamental catalyst that sent shivers of fear through the market.  Contagion, Default, Taper, Sequester, etc.  Confident owners need a boogeyman to shatter their confidence and turn them into sacred sellers.  So far we don’t have a boogeyman and that likely means this selloff will be more shallow since fewer owners will impulsively sell the fear mongering.

Alternate Outcome:
Sometimes we don’t figure out why a market is selling off until after it already happened.  If this market continues collapsing, the financial press will invent a reason.  While today’s selloff stalled just above 1,810, we could see a fresh round of emotional and reactive selling if we breach 1,800 next week.

Trading Plan:
The best profit opportunities are born from the most uncomfortable situations.  Buying the dip Wednesday after holding support was the easy, and wrong, trade.  Buying now that we’ve crashed through support is far more difficult.  And that is what likely makes it the right trade.  Without a fundamental driver, expect this selloff to stall soon.  Shorts should look to take profits and bold dip-buyers can take a chance.

Plan your trade; trade your plan

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About the Author

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.

Blake April 12, 2014

Hello I liked your post and observed many of the points you made. The reason for the fear in the markets of course is the re – ignition of the cold war. We feel so safe and are ignorant to the fact that it could only take 1 gun shot for WW3 to begin. This is the fundamental trigger for the markets dumping. Not a rocket scientist but the market got week when Crimea was taken over.
Best Regards

    Jani Ziedins April 15, 2014

    I felt the same way and shorted the market when the Crimea story broke, but instead of going lower, the market surged to all-time highs as the Russian military took Crimea by force. All of the geopolitical stuff happened in early March and the Russians annexed Crimea in mid March, yet we made record highs on April 4th. I wrote pretty extensively about the situation as it was going down and the only conclusion I could come to was the market assumed Russia and the West had too much to lose if they elevated the situation beyond name calling. And from a wider lense, so far the market’s been right.

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