On Thursday the S&P500 slipped modestly, but it is hard to call a 0.1% dip a material loss. This is the third close above 2,490 and continues the strength following Monday’s breakout. These record highs are a long way from the fear and uncertainty that dominated headlines over the last several weeks. As I’ve been saying for a while, a market that refuses to go down will eventually go up. And that is exactly what happened here.
It is constructive to see the market hold Monday’s breakout. Bears have been unable to break this bull market even through multiple waves of bearish headlines. This shows most owners are more inclined to hold for higher prices than take profits or succumb to fearful selling. The last several weeks of consolidation firmed up support and built a solid base for the market’s next up leg.
But just as things were starting to look good, North Korea launched another missile over Japan after Thursday’s close. Fortunately the stock market is reacting less and less to each successive provocation. In after-hours trade the S&P500 only dipped 0.2%. That’s because stock owners who fear this story sold weeks ago. These nervous owners were replaced by confident dip-buyers who demonstrated a willingness to hold these headlines. If there is no one left to sell the news, it stops mattering.
Even though this latest North Korean threat is unlikely to trigger an avalanche of selling, it is enough to keep buyers sitting on their hands. Their lack of buying could weigh on prices tomorrow. But just like every other dip over the last few weeks, any weakness is a dip-buying opportunity. If the previous North Korean provocations couldn’t break this market, there is no reason to think this episode will end any different. If we were going to crash, it would have happened by now.
Once we traverse this latest North Korean speed bump, expect the slow drift higher to continue. Confident owners don’t want to sell no matter what the headlines say and their conviction is keeping supply tight. Conventional wisdom warns us about complacent markets, but what it often forgets to mention is these periods of complacency last far longer than anyone expects.
Few things calm nerves like a rising market. Expect these steady gains to shift the focus from fear of a crash to being afraid of being left behind. Recent sellers and underweight money managers will start realizing the dip they predicted isn’t going to happen and they will be forced to start chasing prices higher. Last week’s seller will be next week’s buyer. And that’s how the slow grind higher will continue.
Keep doing what has been working and that is sticking with this bull market.
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Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, 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 children.