End of Day Update:
Japanese turmoil infected global markets Thursday after the Bank of Japan declined to enact additional stimulus to combat that country’s deflation. European markets tanked and the S&P 500 gapped half-a-percent lower at the open. But the panic was short-lived as we rebounded into the green by lunchtime. Japan hasn’t been on the market’s radar with most traders fixated on China and oil prices over the last six-month. Initially it seemed like that trend was continuing until a late selloff clipped 20-points from the S&P 500 in less than an hour, easily shoving us under the morning’s lows. Early relief quickly degraded into fear of owning stocks overnight and a stampede for the exits.
Fear of this market is well founded since events in Japan will likely get worse before they get better. Very rarely are 3.6% selloffs an isolated incident and most likely there is more pain in store for Japanese markets. The question is if U.S. investors will continue ignoring Japan’s problems, or if Thursday’s price-action shined a light on the next big thing for traders to fret over.
As I’ve been discussing on these pages for a few weeks now, we’ve come a long way from February’s lows and it is normal and natural for the market to cool off following such a hot run. This vulnerability means we need to be especially careful here. One false step could kick off a larger wave of selling that pushes us back to 2,000 support.
I don’t expect Japan to be any more of a problem than Chinese slowing or plunging energy prices, meaning this shall pass too. But between now and then we could experience a fairly dramatic dip. While it will feel terrifying, this is just the market’s normal two-steps forward, one-step back. Just when everyone is predicting the end of the world, we will bounce and resume our march to all-time highs.
The most nimble traders can move to cash or even short the market Friday if we continue trading weak. Most likely this won’t be a major selloff, but dipping another 70-points to support creates a great swing-trading opportunity. If prices stabilize and we finish strong Friday, then this is little more than indigestion and we should cover our shorts and position ourselves for a run to all-time highs above 2,130. For those with a longer-term horizon, ignore this noise. We will stumble and everyone will claim the sky is falling, but this is a great opportunity to buy your favorite stocks at a discount.
What’s a good trade worth to you? How about avoiding a loss?
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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.