The S&P500’s whipsaw continues as Monday’s fizzle turned into Tuesday’s surge. On Monday the market opened strong following a weekend where tariff headlines cooled. Unfortunately the relief was short-lived because a FBI raid on Trump’s personal lawyer sent the market tumbling from its early highs. But Monday night the president of China took a conciliatory tone in a speech about trade and that was enough to kick off Tuesday’s buying frenzy. What does Wednesday have in store? If overnight futures falling 0.5% are any indication, it looks like another whipsaw is headed our way.
Lets discuss the big headlines one at a time. Stocks popped Tuesday when China’s president said he wanted to open the country up to more free trade. While that was a good start, it is a long way from a done deal. As they say, talk is cheap. What these promises of freer trade don’t include is a timeframe and Trump has often accused China of appeasing previous administrations with phony promises it never delivered on. Chances are good Trump will brush off these Chinese overtures and keep applying pressure. And more than that, let’s remember this is the “Art of the Deal” president. If the Chinese really are willing to give an inch, expect Trump to demand a mile. Without a doubt the trade headlines are anything but over and we should expect a bumpy road as we approach next month’s tariff deadlines.
The second story dominating headlines is Muller’s investigation into the Trump administration. The knee-jerk reaction was for owners to sell the news of the FBI raid. But reality is most of that reactionary fear is misplaced. Trump already delivered on tax and regulatory reforms, so most of the good stuff from the market’s perspective is already behind us. If Trump gets bogged down by a scandal, it won’t really affect the things the market cares about. In fact, given Trump’s strong nationalist bent lately, it could actually be a good thing for stocks. If a scandal consumes Trump’s time, energy, and political capital, that means there is less he can do to screw thing sup. As strange as it sounds, a paralyzed Congress and White House is actually bullish. Two decades ago when the Clinton White House was embroiled in a scandal that eventually lead to Clinton’s impeachment, the stock market actually went up. That’s because our government was too busy discussing a blue dress to mess up the economy. Most likely the same thing will happen here. The less our politicians do, the better off we are.
Technically speaking, the market continues hovering near the lows and is falling into a 2,600ish-2,650ish trading range. The problem with sticking near the lows is it makes it more likely that we will stumble under them. Violating widely followed technical levels near 2,600 and 2,550 will trigger swift waves of stop-loss selling and send us tumbling. On the other side, breaking 2,650 overhead resistance is unlikely to trigger waves of breakout buying. Instead demand will most likely dry up as those with cash adopt a wait-and-see approach given all the volatility and uncertainty that surrounds the market. Remember, stocks fall a lot faster than they go up. whi
While the near-term prognosis for stocks is cautious, the economic outlook is actually quite positive. That means any near-term weakness is simply another dip buying opportunity. This is especially true of the vaunted FAANG stocks. These tech highfliers are carving out a base and a few months from now people will be kicking themselves for not buying these discounts. These are attractive levels for anyone with a longer time horizon even if we fall a little lower over the near-term. Remember, no one can consistently pick a bottom. That means either we buy too-early, or we buy too-late. What a trader chooses to do largely depends on their personality and risk tolerance.
It seems like everyone has forgotten about bitcoin and it hardly gets mentioned in the mainstream financial press anymore. That’s a problem for bitcoin bulls because they need the exposure to encourage new buyers to come into the market. As I’ve been writing about for a while, bursting bubbles take six months or more to play out. That happened during the first three major corrections in bitcoin and there is every indication that is what is happening here. At best we are in the middle innings and we should expect further weakness to come. While $6k seems to be providing support, let’s not forget we said the same thing about $14k, $12k, $10k, $9k, $8k, and $7k. I hope everyone sees the pattern here. Expect bitcoin to undercut February’s lows over the next few weeks and for that to trigger a wave of defensive selling that doesn’t stop until we slip into the $4k range. Then and only then can we buy the dip for a quick bounce.
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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.