End of Day Update:
The S&P500 exploded higher today, one trading session after plunging lower last Friday. This followed two huge up-days, which was proceeded by a gigantic plunge, that was on the heels of an epic multi-day rally. And so on, and so forth, you get the idea. It’s been a volatile few weeks as we consolidate the recent selloff and build a base between 5% and 10% under recent highs. While these moves have been dramatic and emotional, the non-stop plunge has yet to resume, a good sign prices are stabilizing in the 1,900s.
This volatility has been driven by economic uncertainty in China and the Fed’s looming rate hike. But while it doesn’t feel like it, down nearly 10% makes this one of the safest times to own stock all year. Risk is a factor of heights and this is the lowest we’ve been in quite some time. Common sense tells us the lower we go, the closer we are to the eventual bottom. Rather than fear this market, we should embrace it. While there is still the potential for further downside, no matter how much lower we go, the downside will still be less than the fall experienced by those that bought a couple of months ago. Take advantage of this new-found safety due to lower prices, don’t run from it.
China continues to dominate traders’ thoughts and is the source of most of the market’s anxiety. I have little doubt the situation in China will continue to deteriorate over coming months, but it will matter less and less as the market grow accustomed to the situation and it becomes priced in. Very few US companies rely on the Chinese consumer as a major source for their corporate profits. That’s why a weak Chinese economy will have a limited impact on S&P500 earnings. In fact, since we are an import driven economy, we will actually see a net benefit as companies input costs fall due to weaker Asian currencies. The knee-jerk reaction was to fear a Chinese slowdown, but it won’t take long before traders realize the actual situation is nowhere near as bad as feared.
As for the near-term trade, we are forming a trading range between 1,900 and 2,000. One day’s euphoria gives way to the next day’s stampede for the exits. Closing near 1,970 leaves us near the upper quarter of this range, making us more vulnerable to another overnight hand grenade out of China. This a better level to be locking in profits than chasing the bounce. The safest way to trade this market remains to be either ride out the waves by sticking to a buy-and-hold plan, or stay on the sidelines until there is a little more price stability. The choppiness will likely last for another week or two as the Chinese situation gets priced in and we wait for clarity on our Fed’s rate hike intentions.
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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.