End of Day Update:
Stocks stumbled in late morning trade, challenging 2,050 support before recovering a small portion of the losses by closing at 2,060. There are a handful of explanations for today’s weakness, but the simple truth is we ran out of buyers.
The first hints of weak demand came on Friday as the market failed to make material headway following an unexpectedly strong employment report. This news was more than enough of a catalyst to launch us higher if there was upside remaining in this move. The fact we barely budged showed us an abundance of bullishness was already priced in. When we no longer rally on good news, look out below.
That is exactly what caught up with us today. Anyone who wanted to buy this market already bought it, meaning there was no one left. For much of the rally, the Stocktwits SPY sentiment gauge remained stubbornly stuck in bearish territory. It was the widespread reluctance to believe in this rebound that propelled us from the October lows. But last couple weeks saw a dramatic reversal as sentiment swung from 55% bearishness to 65% bullishness. That 20-percentage point reversal told us bears were giving up and bulls were getting cocky. The market is an equal opportunity humiliator. After thoroughly demoralizing bears with a 250-point rebound, it is now turning its attention toward bulls.
While we bounced above 2,050 support Monday, it is inevitable the market will dip under this key technical level before this is all said and done. How the market responds after violating support will tell us where we go next. If selling stalls and we quickly retake 2,050, this is just another buyable dip. But if buyers are MIA and the selling accelerates, 2,010 is the next meaningful support level. Trade accordingly.
This analysis diverges from my previous expectation of a Santa Claus rally, but we have to be flexible enough to change our outlook when presented with new evidence. The Santa Claus rally theory predicted a pop following bullish employment. When the market didn’t behave as expected, it meant the underlying theory was flawed. While there is still time for a Santa Claus rally in the second half of the month, at the very least expect weakness over the next few days.
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.