Welcome to Cracked.Market’s weekly scorecard:
This post includes a summary of the week’s market developments, links to the free posts I published, and analysis on how accurate each post was since I wrote it.
The S&P500 surged to record highs this week, breaking through 2,550 in Thursday’s trade. But the first employment losses in seven-years dampened the mood on Friday, giving us the first down day in nearly two-weeks.
As good as things feel, we must remember markets cannot go up every day. Thursday’s gains were the eighth in a row and sixteenth out of the last nineteen. A down day was inevitable, the question is if Friday’s 0.1% dip is enough to refresh the market and set the stage for a continuation higher.
A big chunk of this week’s enthusiasm stemmed from Republicans making progress toward tax reform. That was enough to put people in a buying mood and the early strength triggered a wave of reactive breakout buying and short-covering.
The thing we have to be careful of is Republicans are still in the brainstorming phase of crafting this bill. Next they need to figure out what compromises are required to make this thing work. That is where things get difficult. Healthcare reform went well….until it didn’t. There is a good chance the same will happen here and this week’s optimism could easily turn into next week’s pessimism.
At this point I don’t think there is a lot of upside left in this move. The only question is if we pullback to support, or we consolidate recent gains by trading sideways. There is no reason to sell long-term positions to avoid a near-term dip. Shorter-term traders should be thinking about taking profits. And those with cash should resist the temptation to chase prices higher. That said, the path of least resistance is still higher and every dip is buyable.
October 3rd: Is it finally safe to buy?
Without a doubt the path of least resistance is higher, but we know markets don’t move in straight lines. We need to mix in a few down days to keep this market healthy and sustainable. When a red-day happens, don’t freak out and start calling a top. If this market was going to crash, it would have happened weeks ago when headlines and sentiment were far more dire. Instead, expect the rate of gains to slow and for the market to spend a few weeks consolidating recent gains. We can keep going up for a few more days, but the higher we go, the harder we fall during the normal and healthy down wave. But either way, this is definitely a better place to be taking profits than adding new positions. Buy-and-hold investors can keep holding, but traders with profits should start thinking about locking them in, and those with cash should resist the temptation to chase.
Score 8/10: I knew momentum could carry us higher over the next few days and that is what happened. But this is still a better place to be taking profits than buying new positions. I docked myself a couple of points because we still don’t know how this trade will turn out. If the surge higher fizzles next week, then I can boost my score. If we keep surging higher, then I will take off a few points. The important thing to keep in mind is I am not calling a top, just saying the risk/reward has shifted against us. The upside remaining above us is far less than the downside below us.
October 5th: What smart money is doing here
To be brutally honest, only and idiot would buy the eighth consecutive up-day and seventeenth out of the last twenty. As I wrote in yesterday’s free educational piece, everyone knows markets move in waves, unfortunately most forget that fact when planning their next trade. Just as I knew August’s selloff was unsustainable, I also know this surge higher is not sustainable.
Over the last two-weeks the market has been wedging higher. This is the least sustainable price pattern. The shape is formed by desperate breakout buying and short-covering. Two of the most powerful, but least sustainable forces in the market. Once these smaller groups run out of money, most of the time there is no one left to fill the void. Big money hates chasing prices higher and almost always waits for a dip. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, big money’s reluctance to chase prices creates the lack of demand that causes prices to dip.
Without a doubt we can coast higher for a few more days, but dips are a normal and healthy part of every move higher. Without periodic pullbacks, foundations are weak and prone to failure. The higher we go over the near term, the harder we fall. I am in no way predicting a market crash and I still believe in this bull market, but I know what sustainable rallies look like and this is not it. At best we trade sideways for several weeks and consolidate recent gains. Worst case is we test 2,500 support and even dip a little under it. While not a big deal for most of us, that will be a painful ride or anyone who bought these record highs.
Score 8/10: Friday was technically a down day, but 0.1% really doesn’t count following such a large rally. The lack of profit-taking tells us most owners are confidently holding for higher prices. That keeps supply tight, but supply is only half the equation. Big money tends to fear heights and their lack of buying could cause us to drift lower. But don’t expect us to fall too far. There are a lot of managers desperate to get in this market and they buy any and all dips. It is still a little early to score this week’s analysis and next week’s trade will be a lot more insightful.
Excerpts from my new educational series. Click the title to read the full post. Signup for Free Email Alerts to be notified when news posts are published.
The problem is most traders convince themselves every move higher or lower will continue indefinitely. When the move goes the direction of their bias, their confidence swells as the market’s price-action confirms their ideas. This confidence causes them to rush headfirst into a big position before they miss the trade they have been waiting for. Unfortunately most of the time their confidence doesn’t come until the market has already made a sizable move in the direction of their bias. In the bull’s case, when the market is making a higher-high. The problem is confidence is highest just as the last of the buyers are rushing into the market and prices are about to slip back into the trading range.
When a new trade falls into the red so quickly, confidence is shattered and replaced by uncertainty and fear. Traders initially convince themselves they can hold through a brief pullback because they are still believe they are right. When that doesn’t happen, doubt grows until vulnerable traders bail out because the pain of regret grows too strong. This selling pressures prices further, causing more nervous owners to sell, further pressuring prices. The downward spiral continues until we exhaust the supply of nervous sellers. Unfortunately for these reactive sellers, prices rebound not long after they bailout.
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Have a great weekend and I hope to see you again next week.
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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.