End of Day Update
Stocks gave back all of Monday’s gains on above average volume and ever so slightly undercut Friday’s lows in intraday trade.
Confidence was shattered when someone in the Polish government claimed Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine. While most doubted the accuracy of this claim, it was enough to send an already weak market into a 15-point tailspin midday.
Poland is a member of both NATO and the EU and the US has a couple dozen F-16s stationed in the country. It is ridiculous to think Putin would share his war plans with anyone in Poland, so we can discount these particular comments as overblown hyperbole and they don’t warrant further attention. (Poland has been lobbying for months for the US to increase its military presence in the country and these alarmist comments are self-serving.)
While we can ignore these alarmist comments, it is noteworthy how strongly the market reacted to even a hint, no matter how dubious, of an escalation in Ukraine. Market participants are skittish following the dramatic selloff last week and any whiff of problems sends them running for cover.
The market is a modest 3.5% from record highs, but you wouldn’t know it given all the pundits claiming the sky is falling. Sentiment is plummeting, put/call ratios are spiking, and anyone watching the financial media is scared to death. Given how dramatic the reversal in sentiment, it seems likely this is an overreaction to recycled headlines that have been in the news for months.
Simple fact is markets move up and down. If everyone knew a dip wasn’t the start of something bigger, no one would sell it, everyone would buy it, and we’d all be rich. But we know the market doesn’t work that way. Dips are dips because they scare the hell out of owners and everyone assumes prices will continue dramatically lower. If they didn’t, no one would impulsively sell their stocks at a discount and we wouldn’t get a dip in the first place.
Most everyone agrees the economy is still improving and the fundamental data backs it up. The criticism bears have is this market’s gone too far and is overvalued. They have long claimed we are on the verge of a correction and they are confident this time is the real deal. And so far they’ve been persuasive enough to convince a lot of other people to dump their stocks too.
Every dip in the history of the market was a buying opportunity and this one will be no different. The only question is how far this will go before it is buyable. Given how quickly sentiment shifted and how little meat there is to the fundamental justifications for this weakness, the bottom is likely quite near. While we might have one last leg lower, that would be the last flush before we bottom.
If Putin actually invades Ukraine, the threat of WWIII will crush the markets.
The best trading opportunities arise from having the courage to buy when everyone else is scared. While the market is poised for another dramatic down day if we fail to hold 1,920, we should be looking for bargains to be bought rather than dumping stocks at a discount. Everyone knows markets go up and down, but they always forget it in the moment.
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.