Thursday was a quiet day for the S&P 500 as we await Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday. Volume was exceptionally light because few chose to adjust their portfolio. This apathy showed up in the price-action too as we spent all day inside a few point range and closed exactly where we started.
Given the 65-point rebound off last week’s lows, a do-nothing day is constructive. It allows traders to catch their breath and suggests that we are not at unsustainably overbought levels yet. If demand dried up and nervous traders were taking profits, we would have quickly tumbled from these levels. That means at least for the moment owners are confidently waiting for higher prices. When owners don’t sell, supply stays tight and prices remain strong.
The wildcard is what Janet Yellen says on Friday. Rate-hike headlines fell off of the front pages and that dissipating fear allowed us to rebound from last week’s lows. But has this move already priced in bullish comments from Yellen? Since risk is a function of height, the surge in prices makes this a riskier time to buy than last week and there is less margin for error. If she says the right things we bounce a little higher. If she says the wrong things, there is 50-points of air underneath us. Limited upside and lots of downside setup a poor risk/reward for buying the market ahead of this speech.
The most likely outcome is Yellen keeps a June rate-hike on the table and the stock market switches into fretting mode. That could push us back down to the 50dma. But since these comments won’t surprise many, only the knee-jerk traders will sell the news. Once they are out, supply will dry up and prices will bounce. Buying this rebound will be a good entry for those that missed last week’s recovery. But after a brief period of volatility, expect the frenetic trading to dry up as we return to more benign summer trade. Since a big portion of the institutional decision makers are on their way out the door for summer vacation, expect most portfolios to be put on autopilot. That means no big directional moves and a summer trading range to develop. Buy the dips, sell the rips, and repeat until fall.
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.