The S&P500 surged to all-time highs, making this the seventh consecutive up-day and sixteen out of the last nineteen. There was no headlines to speak of, but traders were encouraged by Republicans making progress toward tax reform.
What a difference a few weeks makes. Not long ago the market was gripped with fear and predictions of a crash were around every corner. Many traders sold defensively “before things get worse”. Luckily readers of this blog knew better than to overreact to what turned out to be benign headlines.
As I wrote many times over the last several weeks, a market that refuses to do down will eventually go up. And that is exactly what happened. A relentless barrage of bearish headlines failed to dent this bull. That told us the path of least resistance was still higher and once the storm clouds dissipated, stocks surged on “no news is good news”.
Now that we are well over 100-points above August’s lows, traders that missed the rebound are wondering what to do. The looming question if there is still time to jump aboard this rebound, or if it is too late.
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.
Friday we get the monthly employment report. It’s been years since employment moved the market in a meaningful way and this month will not be any different. In fact this month’s employment report is even less meaningful because it will be distorted by Harvey and Irma. With the two hurricanes as an excuse, traders will be able to rationalize whatever they want to about Friday’s numbers.
Buy-and-hold investors can stick with their positions, but traders should really be thinking about locking in profits, and those with cash should definitely resist the temptation to chase. Even though we might coast higher, it is only a matter of days before the market pulls back under current levels. I don’t expect a crash, but we definitely need to cool off.
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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.