Stock broke 1,900 for the first time in history, but only held that level for an hour before settling back into the high 1,890s. Volume was again lower as fewer people are trading these levels.
The breakout to record highs failed to trigger a surge of buying and the day largely passed with a yawn. Venturing into social media shows how married people are to their outlook and unwilling to change regardless of the evidence. There is nothing thoughtful or insightful coming from most people, but the intelligent trader can use these clues to look under the surface.
Markets move when people change their mind. They adjust their portfolio to reflect their new outlook and this buying and selling moves markets. But when market participants are so stubbornly entrenched, we trade sideways because no one is changing their mind. Threats of war in Eastern Europe don’t give bulls pause just like the strongest hiring binge in two years doesn’t sway bears. This behavior means headlines no longer matter since both sides refuse to acknowledge anything that contradicts their preconceived bias.
If news won’t sway traders, what will move this market? Boring old supply and demand. Everyone knows markets go up and down, but most people identify with bulls or bears and assume any move in their direction will keep going. But the truth is the market trades sideways far more often than it makes directional moves. While tight supply driven by owners’ confidence and unwillingness to sell pushed us to record highs, dwindling volume suggests few are willing to buy the breakout and this market will likely stall on weak demand. Summer is a historically lethargic season and the market will likely continue trading sideways for months to come.
Expected Outcome: Running out of steam at the upper end of a trading range.
Markets broke 1,900, but it didn’t trigger a frenzy of breakout buying or short covering. At the same time it didn’t set off a wave of profit taking and shorting. Most likely the market will continue trading sideways until something comes along to shake this gridlock. Either that will be panic over some kind of economic calamity or buyers will venture back in when nothing bad happens for an extended period of time. Until then, the best trade remains buying weakness and selling strength. The move to record highs makes this a better place to lock in profits than initiate new positions.
Consolidations clear the way for moves higher. Most often they are pullbacks, but often sideways trade is all it takes to refresh a market.
Buy weakness and sell strength.
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.