Monthly Archives: October 2018

Oct 10

What happened the last time we fell 3%?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

The S&P 500 was murdered Wednesday, collapsing 3.3% as the market plunged for the fifth-consecutive session as interest rate fears spiraled out of control. This was the worst down-day since last February’s selloff.

While that sounds dreadful, could this actually be a good thing? Did anyone look back at that fateful day in February when we fell 3.75%? If you did, you already know what happened next. Panic driven selling pushed us down another 50-points early the next day, but rather than collapse lower, supply actually dried up and we finished the day up 1.5%. And not only that, that morning’s lows were the lowest point for all of 2018 and we have been higher ever since. Will this time be any different?

Without a doubt, we could fall further, but is that an excuse to abandon this market? Or is this a golden opportunity to jump in? Only time will tell, but at this point, the best we can do is look at history.

I fear the slow, insidious grind lower. Those are the losses that accumulate when no one is paying attention. What I don’t fear are the big, headline-grabbing down-days. The one that gets everyone’s attention and makes headlines around the world. That’s because those big, flashy days don’t have any substance. As the saying goes, the flame that burns twice as bright only lasts half as long.

They don’t get any bigger than 1987’s 20% collapse. That day will forever live in market folklore. But what you rarely hear is the market actually finished 1987 with a respectable 6% gain. And not only that, all of those 20% losses were erased within 12 months. It doesn’t sound nearly as scary when you put that 20% loss in context.

But forget 1987, we don’t even need to look further back than earlier this year to see the same behavior. February’s selloff sliced nearly 10% off this market. Yet we reclaimed all of those losses within six months.

I will be the first to admit I didn’t see Wednesday’s dramatic selloff coming. I have been bullish on this market since February’s bottom and today’s 3% selloff doesn’t change anything. Dips are a healthy part of every move higher. And that includes frighteningly dramatic days like Wednesday. If a person cannot handle a 3% dip in the broad market, or a 10% dip in a highflying tech stock, they probably shouldn’t be speculating in stocks.

If I wasn’t already fully invested in this market, I would be buying this dip with both arms. I’ve been doing this for way too long to let a little irrational selling scare me off. But that is what works for me. If the market’s volatility is keeping a person up at night, that is a sign they need to reduce their position sizes to something that is more manageable. The key to surviving the market is keeping your head when everyone else is losing theirs. Do whatever is necessary to reclaim your perspective. If that means dialing back your position sizes, then that is what you need to do.

Back to the big picture, if a person believes a 0.25% bump in Treasury rates will strangle the economy, then they definitely need to sell and lock-in their profits. But if a person doesn’t believe this economy is teetering on the verge of a recession, then they can ignore the noise and wait for higher prices. As crazy as it sounds, I still believe this market is setting up for a year-end rally. Come back in three months and we’ll see who was right.

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Jani

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Oct 04

While the ride was scary, did anything change today?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update

Thursday was brutal for the S&P 500. Ten-year Treasury yields surged to the highest levels since 2011 and fear of sharply rising interest rates sent global equity investors scrambling for cover.

The S&P 500 opened down a modest 0.2%, but that was as good as it is got and by midday, we crashed through 2,900 support and the selling didn’t stop until we shed nearly 1.5%. This was definitely a sell first, ask questions later kind of day. But not all was bad. A late-afternoon rebound reclaimed 2,900 support before the close. Not very often do we breathe a sigh of relief when the market finishes down 0.8%, but that was so much better than it could have been.

The question on everyone’s mind is what happens next. Today’s frenzied selling hit us out of the blue and is unlike anything we’ve seen in months. Wednesday we were flirting with all-time highs, but barely 24-hours later we crashed through support and shed nearly 60-points from the previous day’s highs. We have to go back to this winter’s big selloff to see two-day price-action that dramatic. It was especially shocking given how benign volatility has been lately. But the market has a nasty habit of smacking us when we least expect it, and that is exactly what happened Thursday.

While this price-action was dramatic, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is if anything actually changed. A surge in interest rates was the excuse for Thursday’s selloff, and while rates climbed to the highest levels in years, they didn’t really go up that much. We broke through 3% for the first time back in May and have been consistently above this level since September. And this week’s “surge” took us from 3.1% all the way up to 3.2%. It’s not nearly as impressive when you look at it that way.

But a segment of traders was looking for an excuse to sell, and once the floodgates opened, the race to the exits was on. Early selling pushed us under the first set of stop-losses, and that selling pushed us under the next tranche of stop-losses. That pattern of reactive selling, dropping, and more reactive selling continued until we triggered all the stop-losses and ran out of defensive sellers willing to abandon this market.

And so what happens next? We don’t need to look very far because what will happen next is the exact same thing that happened last time, and the time before that. This is an incredibly resilient market. Owners refused to sell an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. They refused to sell an ever-expanding investigation into the president. They refused to sell the Fed raising interest rates three times this year and promising another hike before the end of the year. Should we believe confident owners would sit through all that, only to lose their nerve and turn into panicked sellers when Treasury rates go from 3.1% to 3.2%. Really???

I don’t see anything that materially changed Thursday and that means my positive outlook remains intact. Everyone knows stocks cannot go up every…single….day. Dips are inevitable. The thing to remember about dips is they always feel real. If they didn’t, no one would sell and we wouldn’t dip! Without a doubt, Thursday’s selloff felt real. But nothing changed, and that means we should ignore the noise. This is a strong market and the rally into year-end is alive and well. Savvy traders are buying these discounts, not selling them.

Last week I wrote the following and nothing changed since then:

There is not a lot to do with our short-term money. Either we stay and cash and wait for a more attractive opportunity, or we stretch our time-horizon and ride the eventual move higher. Of course, there is no free lunch and holding stocks is risky. Anyone waiting for the next move higher needs to be prepared to sit through near-term uncertainty and volatility.

If a person has cash, they are a great position to buy these discounts. If a person was taking a longer view, they should have expected dips and gyrations along the way. If they knew something like this could happen, they would be less tempted to reactively sell the weakness. Unfortunately, a lot of traders were not prepared for this dip, and they joined the crowd jumping out the window. But it’s not all bad, their loss is our gain when they sell us their heavily discounted stocks. Sign up for Free Email Alerts so you are on the right side of the trade next time.

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Jani

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