What to expect now that we reached the highs

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Aug 09

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On Thursday the S&P 500 slipped for a second consecutive day, but “slipped” is a bit of an exaggeration since combined both days didn’t even register a 0.2% loss. That leaves us still within 1% of all-time highs as we simply slow down following last week’s impressive bounce off 2,800 support.

Long gone are last month’s trade war and rate-hike fears. Funny how calming rising prices can be. But this isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while. Long ago we recognized this market’s strength. While others were waiting for the impending collapse, we saw a market that refused to go down no matter how bad the headlines got. One of the things I learned a long time ago is what the market is not doing is often more insightful than what it is doing.

There are few things more bullish than a market that refuses to go down on bad news. All it took was a break from the negative headlines and this market would surge on “no news is good news”. And that is exactly what happened. Remember, we trade the market, not the headlines. If the market doesn’t care about trade wars and rate-hikes, then neither should we.

That explains this markets assent to all-time highs, but the trader in all of us want to know what comes next so we can profit from it. While I’ve been calling for this move to all-time highs, I’ve also been warning that prices would run into resistance at these levels. We are still stuck in the slower summer months and that means we lack big money’s firepower to drive large directional moves. That won’t come until after Labor day when institutional money managers return from their summer cottages. Until then we should expect the market’s moves to be more measured and breakouts and breakdowns to stall quickly.

Even though the market left most of its concerns behind as we climbed to these highs, that actually makes this a more dangerous place to be buying. Smart traders buy discounts, they don’t chase premium prices. Risk is a function of height and last week’s gains made this one of the riskiest places to buy all year. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m most definitely not calling a top or predicting and imminent collapse. But what I am saying is we rallied up to resistance and it is normal and healthy for the market to pause and even dip a little.

I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t know if we stall at current levels, or if we break through 2,880 resistance and stall above it. Either way it doesn’t really matter because the risk/reward has shifted against us and this is now a better place to be taking profits than adding new money. It is a fool’s errand to try and decide if the peak will be 2,862, 2,875, or 2,892. This point is good enough for me and that is all that matters. And the thing to remember is we cannot buy the next dip if we don’t have any cash. Buy weakness, sell strength, and repeat until a good year becomes a great year.

From a short-term trading perspective, this is a better place to be taking profits than adding new money. But for our longer-term investments, stick with what is working and that is buying-and-holding our favorite stocks. We might see a little near-term weakness, but this market is strong and the rally into year-end is still on.

Stock crashes are breathtakingly quick, which means NFLX and FB hanging onto current levels for two weeks tells us the post-earnings selloff is largely done. At this point it would take a new round of bad news to launch the next move lower. While it will take a while to recover recent losses, it seems most owners are willing to give their favorite stocks the benefit of doubt and are sticking with them. That means we should expect FB and NFLX to retake their leadership position later this fall. Meanwhile GOOGL, AMZN, and AAPL are either making new all-time highs or are just about to. The best trade of the first half of 2018 is getting ready to be the best trade of the second half.

It didn’t take long for Bitcoin to tumble all the way to $6k support. Long gone are the hopes of retaking $8k and now only a few hundred dollars separates us from another lower-low. This chart is very sick and we still have a way to go before this over.

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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.