On Thursday the S&P500 extended last week’s rebound off 2,600 support and now finds itself well above the 50dma and 2,700 resistance. What a difference a few days makes. Last week traders were fleeing ahead of the expected collapse, this week those same traders are scrambling over each other to get back in.
Not a lot changed over the last week. The Fed is still planning on raising rates. Treasuries hover near 3%. Trump’s Trade War is still hanging over us. Last week these things were going to wreck our economy. This week no one remembers them. Are these things important? Should we ignore them? What is a trader supposed to do?
As I’ve been saying since early February, the big selloff was over but the drop in prices did enough damage that we wouldn’t rebound to the highs anytime soon. If we weren’t going any lower, but weren’t going higher either, what’s left? Sideways. And that’s exactly what’s happened since the February selloff bottomed. Rebounds fizzle and the breakdowns bounce. Bulls and bears trading these as larger directional moves have been getting humiliated by the reversals. But their loss is our gain and it has been highly profitable for those of us buying the weakness and selling the strength.
Now that we are at the upper end of the range, has anything changed? Nope. Rather than chase the relief higher, we should be growing more cautious looking for a place to take profits. Risk is a function of height. Last week we were near the lows of the year. Rather than run from the market, we should have been buying those discounts. And now that prices are significantly higher, rather than rush in, we should be growing cautious as the risk/reward swung the other direction. Trading is not hard once we learn what to look for.
I’m most definitely not calling this a near-term top. It would be foolish to short this strength for no other reason than we reached the upper end of the latest trading range. But the risk/reward is no longer in our favor and that means moving to a defensive posture and taking profits. Only after cracks start forming should anyone even consider going short.
Nothing has changed from last week to this week. That means keep doing what has been working. Buy weakness and sell strength.
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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.