End of Day Update:
Tuesday the S&P500 slipped back under 2,100 support/resistance in an otherwise quiet and uneventful day. Trade resembled a typical, slow summer session, a welcome departure from last week’s dramatic swings.
The most noteworthy thing is how modest the loss was considering the Chinese stock market plunged 6% overnight. That easily could have triggered another emotional rout if this rebound was fragile or unsustainable. The fact our market yawned at those developments tells us anyone who fears China is already out of the market and current owners are not interested in selling that story again. Right or wrong, when no one sells a headline, it stops mattering. Prices move on supply and demand, not headlines or fundamentals. Successful traders take their cues from what matters and ignore what doesn’t.
We find ourselves within a couple percent of all-time highs for the umpteenth time this year as we extend the longest and tightest trading range in 65-years. There are two ways to interpret this range-bound market. The half-full analyst says if were going to breakdown, it would have happened already. The half-empty outlook counters with if we were ready to go higher, it would have happened by now. Both opinions are valid, but only one is right. The question is which one.
Depending on the way a technician looks at the data, it is just as easy to come up with a bullish interpretation of our situation as a bearish one. That means we need additional information to figure out what comes next. The tiebreaker is sentiment. The mood and outlook of the market tells us if this is stalling or pausing.
For various reasons that we can cover in another article, the market will move in the opposite direction of the market’s mood. If we are flat while everyone is excited about the future, that means we are running out of new buyers and stalling. On the other hand, if the sideways trade happens under dark clouds and widespread pessimism, then we are pausing and refreshing before the next leg higher. This is standard and widely accepted contrarian theory. To figure out what comes next, all we need to do is look at what the crowd thinks and take the opposite side.
Over the last few months headlines have been dominated by Grexit, strong dollar, plunging energy sector, Chinese stock market bubbles, rate hikes, lowered revenue and earnings forecasts, anemic domestic growth, stagnant wages, and a host of other ominous stories. Given this backdrop, it’s little wonder most sentiment measures are in the toilet. But as contrarians, all the negativity tells us this sideways trade is a refreshing bullish consolidation and it is clearing the way for the next leg higher.
Taking it one step further, these bearish headlines also assure us this is one of the safest times to own stocks. While most will disagree with me, if all the above bearish stories failed to break this market, it is hard to imagine something that will dent it. Limited downside and healthy upside create a very favorable risk/reward, making this a great time to own stocks. By the time it feels safe, it will be too late.
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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.