It’s not as bad as it seems

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Feb 08

End of Day Update:

On Thursday the S&P500 plunged, erasing all of Tuesday and Wednesday’s rebound and undercutting Monday’s lows. In the blink of an eye, the market transitioned from one of the most docile in history to one of the most turbulent.

Again economic headlines remain relatively benign and this is more of a sentiment driven move than fundamental. Since the 2009 lows, skeptics have criticized this market’s lethargic growth and negative real interest rates. Now that we are returning to more normal growth and inflation levels, these same people are running scared and claiming the sky is falling.

Even with today’s plunge to fresh lows, we are still at levels that were record highs only a few months ago. As I have been warning readers for a while, our relentless accumulation of gains was unsustainable. The higher we went without a consolidation, the harder we were going to fall. And that is exactly what happened. We went from setting the record for the longest period without a 5% dip, to a full-blown stock market correction in two weeks.

But that is water under the bridge. What everyone really wants to know is what comes next. And to be honest, I think the market look pretty good. Risk is a function of height and this is the least risky point in several months. Traders should be embracing these discounts, not running from them. Unfortunately most people feel better paying premium prices and chasing record highs. Cheap prices scare them and they bailout “before things get worse”. This reactive strategy of buying high and selling low is why people lose money in the market. Few recognized risk was off the chart in January and that this big decline is giving us a far better place to jump in.

Even though the risks are lower, that doesn’t mean we cannot keep slipping over the near-term, but I actually think this selloff is running out of steam. The lack of an economic catalyst means this selloff won’t go very far. The first big down leg came last Friday when employment and wage gains were “too good”. How dumb does that sound? Sure, the Fed will increase interest rates to more historically normal levels, but that is a good thing. The economy is doing well and most definitely not teetering on the edge of a recession. If anything, the recent tax cuts would cause the economy to ramp up. When’s the last time anyone worried growth was too strong? This economic expansion will end like every economic expansion before it, but that point is still a ways off.

This market’s problems are entirely technical. This week’s selloff went too far and did too much damage for us to rebound straight back to the highs. Traders are no longer blissfully complacent and willing to chase prices higher with reckless abandon. But this isn’t a bad thing. Dips and consolidations are a normal and healthy part of every move higher. Unfortunately the market likes symmetry and by going too long without a dip and consolidation, meant the inevitable dip was going to be a lot larger than we are used to. That is why this week has been so painful. The greater the good times, the longer the hangover.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s rebound failed because we are not ready to bounce back to the highs. But just because we cannot jump back to the highs doesn’t mean we need to fear a larger selloff. We have stumbled into a period of extreme volatility, but that means excessively large moves in both directions. Expect this choppiness to continue over the next few weeks, but don’t fear it. The worst is already behind us and these dips are a time to be buying aggressively, not selling fearfully.

Long-term investors should ignore this noise and stick with their favorite positions. Short-term traders should exploit this volatility by buying weakness and selling strength. Buy the dip, sell the rebound, and repeat.

Unlike the equity market, Bitcoin is experiencing a bit of a resurgence, up more than 30% from this week’s lows. Big bounces are part of every selloff and we are in the middle of one of those sharp rebounds. We plunged under $6k, capitulated, and then bounced hard. And most likely this bounce will continue higher, even flirting with $10k. But as much relief as this bounce gives “hodlers”, this is just another dead-cat bounce on our way lower. These bounces are selling opportunities and should not be chased. At best, this collapse won’t end until we slip under $4k, but it will take us a few months to get there. Until then, expect sharp and tradable moves in both directions.


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About the Author

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.

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