Why the selloff didn’t continue

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Apr 17
S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

End of Day Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR
Stocks traded quietly ahead of the three-day weekend.  We continue holding recent gains and remain above prior support at 1,850 and the 50dma.  This bounce recovered more than half of the recent 80-point sell off and puts the market on more solid footing.

MARKET SENTIMENT
The selloff for no reason was met by the rebound for no reason.  Big moves are driven by traders changing their outlook on the future due to unexpected headlines.  Smaller moves are the result of the natural ebb and flow of supply and demand.  The recent selloff was nothing more than a modest pullback when demand dried up near 1,900.  While the selloff felt dramatic and spooked many traders, nothing happened over the last couple weeks that changed traders’ economic expectations.  Those that expected the economy to continue improving two-weeks ago still feel the same today.  We didn’t get fundamental data that made big money managers adjust their economic outlook lower and is why we bounced sooner than many predicted.

Last week’s reactionary selling wasn’t due to people thinking the economy was taking a nose dive, but because they thought the market was going to take a nosedive.  That a key piece of information technicians miss when they lump all trading activity together in a chart. Supply and demand moves are smaller and more common than fundamentally driven ones.  While many were calling for a 10 or 20% correction likes we’ve seen in years past, what these prognosticators forget is those corrections were driven by dramatic headlines that forced traders to adjust their economic outlook.  Euro Contagion and the downgrade of US debt threatened the viability of our financial system and is why those headlines lead to big selloffs.  Traders were no longer confident about what the future held.  This time around we didn’t have gut-wrenching headlines backing up this selling and is why I felt fairly confident this move would bottom while others were predicting we were falling off a cliff.  While the chart looked scary, we lacked a fundamental reason to drive confident owners out of the market.  While this weakness spooked out impulsive and reactive traders, there was little substance to rattle the nerves of more confident owners.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES
Expected Outcome: There is still more upside left in this rebound, but it is unlikely to lead to a new rally leg.
Traders are breathing a sigh of relief as the emotion driven selling abates.  We will likely see more buying next week as people feel more comfortable owning this market and they chase the bounce.  While this move largely puts fears of a 20% correction behind us, the coast is not clear.  The market will likely remain in a trading range through the summer.

Alternate Outcome:
Big declines often have multiple false bottoms along the way and this weeks strength could just be a sucker’s rally.

Trading Plan:
It is a little late to buy the dip.  The best trading opportunities come from the most uncomfortable situations.  Buying after four up-days is hardly uncomfortable.  We will likely see a few down days next week that flush out the late dip-buyers and tempt the bears to go short.  While I still think there is more upside in this rebound, most of the easy money is behind us and the next couple dozen points of upside will be more bumpy.

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.