On Wednesday the S&P500 rebounded from Tuesday’s selloff but it was unable to hold those early gains and closed flat.
In a directional market, a late fizzle like this would be a big red flag. It warns us there is no follow through and support is crumbling. But this isn’t a directional market and traditional trading signals don’t apply.
We have been stuck in a predominantly sideways market most of this year and every breakout and breakdown has been a false alarm. Anyone who failed to realize this has been making the exact wrong trade at the exact wrong moment. Buying the breakout just before it fizzles and selling the breakdown just before it rebounds.
Unfortunately the market fools traders with these tricks far more often than people are willing to admit. That’s because it is nearly impossible to come to the market without a bullish or bearish bias. Many traders cognitively know the market trades sideways 60% of the time, but in the moment they always think prices are either about to take off, or on the verge of collapse.
Read any blog post or social media stream and all you see is endless bickering over whether the market is about to explode higher, or about to plummet. The rarest opinion is “meh, the market isn’t doing much and I don’t think it will do anything any time soon.”
Unfortunately for most traders these bullish and bearish biases convince them to buy the breakout or sell the breakdown, moments before prices reverse. Then they either chicken out or hit their stop-loss and lock-in their losses. To add insult to injury, prices reverse hours after the trader closes his position. Almost every single person reading this blog knows exactly what that feels like.
Buy high and sell low is a horrible way to trade the market, unfortunately it happens way more often than anyone wants to admit. Directional traders make a lot of money getting here, but they give it all back in these sideways stretches.
The above was a very long-winded way of saying, ignore today’s late fizzle because it is meaningless. Just like last week’s breakout didn’t mean anything, and the fizzle before that. We are stuck in a market that refuses to go down nearly as much as it refuses to go up. Don’t fall for these tricks by reading too much into this meaningless price-action.
While we are in a mostly sideways market, the path of least resistance is definitely higher. Headlines have been resoundingly bearish over the last several weeks and the market has flatly refused to breakdown. If this market was fragile and vulnerable to a crash, it would have happened weeks ago. The fact we withstood wave after wave of bearish headlines means this market is far more resilient than most people realize. A market that refuses to go down will eventually go up.
Keep doing what has been working. Stick with your buy-and-hold positions and add on dips. Big money returned from summer vacation and they are more inclined to buy this market than sell it. Expect this demand to prop up prices over the near-term as big money keeps buying every dip. Over the medium-term expect this resilience to pressure underweight managers into chasing prices higher into year-end. This is an old bull market, but it still has life in it. Underestimate it at your peril.
If you found this post useful, share it with your friends, colleagues, and followers!
If you want to be notified when new posts are published, sign up for Free Email Alerts.
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.