Tuesday was a back-and-forth session for the S&P 500 as early gains fizzled and we closed modestly in the red. The early strength ran into resistance near the 200dma as last week’s relief turned into this week’s second-guessing.
As I warned readers last week, the sharp rebound from October’s lows was unsustainable and a pullback was coming:
This rebound recovered nearly two-thirds of the October selloff and that is about as far as these things go before they start running out of steam….this is definitely a better place to be taking profits than adding new money. At the very least, expect prices to consolidate for a while as investors warm back up to this market. But more likely, volatility will persist and that means a dip back to 2,700 support would be a normal and healthy part of this recovery.
Three trading sessions after I wrote that, we find ourselves testing 2,700 support. Sign up for Free Email Alerts so you don’t miss profitable insights like these.
People claim no one can predict the market, but it really isn’t that hard once we realize the same things keep happening. A decisive rebound following October’s sharp correction was never in doubt. The same goes for the subsequent rebound stalling and taking a step back. The question isn’t if, but when. The hard part is getting the timing right and that is where all the money is made.
Now that last week’s relief is long gone, we find ourselves questioning this market again. Monday’s collapse under the 200dma was as ominous as it gets and that triggered a wave of defensive selling. Traders who were paralyzed by fear during October’s correction and didn’t bailout were not going to make the same mistake this time.
But the thing to remember is most people can only sell once. Once they’re out, their opinion no longer matters. And in fact, the only thing they can do is buy back in. So while a huge number of people sold over the last several weeks, their pessimism no longer matters. And in fact, their pessimism is actually bullish because they will eventually turn into the buyers that fuel the recovery. Buying high and selling low is a poor trading strategy, but the crowd cannot help itself.
Every dip feels real and by rule, it has to. If it didn’t, no one would sell and prices wouldn’t dip. Without a doubt, October’s correction felt real. This week’s collapse feels just as scary. But just because it feels real doesn’t make it real. In fact, all of the selling over the last few weeks makes it even harder for this dip to find new sellers. The longer this drags on, the more people sell, the fewer sellers we have left, and the more solid the market becomes.
Tuesday’s price action was awful and the longer we hold near 2,700 support, the more likely it is we will violate it. But what matters most is what happens next. Does that violation launch another wave of defensive selling? Or does supply dry up and prices rebound?
I think the worst is already behind us, but there are no guarantees in the market. Traders nerves are frayed and anything could happen if panic sets in. But as long as that doesn’t happen, a dip under 2,700 that stalls and recovers is a great entry point for anyone that wants to get back in. Remember, by the time it feels safe, it will be too late to buy the discounts. But if we drop under 2,700 and trigger another avalanche of contagious selling, expect things to get a lot worse.
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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.