End of Day Update:
Thursday was another rough day for the S&P500 as we were taken down by overnight weakness in Asia, Europe, and the oil market. There wasn’t anything new driving this global selloff and it seemed to be more of the same global growth fears that have been hanging over us since the start of the year.
Two-weeks ago everyone felt better when oil surged above $33 and stocks reclaimed 1,940. As relief spread across the market, it felt like the worst was behind us. Unfortunately that was nothing more than the calm before the next wave lower hit us. Here’s the thing, everyone knows market move in waves. Rationally we understand we should buy stocks when they are cheap and sell when they are expensive. But if we know better, why do most people buy when we go up and sell when we go down? That makes as much sense as telling your neighbor that you refuse to buy gas at $1.75 and will take public transit until prices return to $3.00. How stupid is that? Well that is exactly what most people do in the stock market. They greedily buy stocks when they are expensive and fearfully sell them when they are cheap. No wonder most people have a hard time making money in the market.
Looking at equity and oil prices on Thursday, are we at the upper end of a wave, or the lower end? Sure looks like the lower end to me. Armed with this knowledge and using the rational side of our brain, should we be selling or buying stocks on days like these? Of course some people will justify selling because they are getting out “before things get worse”. Well unfortunately I’m afraid I have some bad news for you, if you are down 15% things are already worse. That’s because we are closer to the end of this move than the start. Over the last 65-years we have only fallen 30% from the highs five-times. And it’s actually better than it seems because two of those times we only exceeded 30% losses for a handful of days before rebounding sharply. For all practical purposes only three-times in 65-years has a 15% loss been closer to the beginning than the end. That averages out to one time every 21.7 years. Not exactly a high probability event.
Sure we might fall another 5% from here, but if someone is already down 15% and we only have another 5% to fall, should they be selling defensively now, or just riding it out since they already came this far? The time to sell defensively is before these things get away from us, not after the damage has been done. January 4th when we were still above 2,000 I told my subscribers to get out because things didn’t look right. That is the proper way to sell defensively. Waiting until the pain gets too great is nothing more than trading emotionally and the best way to give away money.
Three-weeks ago I told readers of this free blog that it was the wrong time to sell because we were getting close to bouncing and a couple of days later that is exactly what happened. Then I warned readers that the rebound was bound to stall near 1,940 as we carved out a trading range that would take us into the second quarter. If a person wanted to sell defensively, that rebound was their best chance to get out. Now that we find ourselves at the lower end of the range, this is where we should be looking to buy the dip, not sell it. While we could fall a little further and undercut recent lows, there is nothing new to these global slowdown headlines and no reason for them to take us dramatically lower. Expect the market to bounce over the next few days and return to 1,900 over the next few weeks. If someone wants to get out, selling at the higher end of the trading range is a better time to do it.
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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.