The following is an updated excerpt of what I shared with subscribers today during the trading session. This explains how I feel about this situation and I wanted to share it with my free subscribers too:
The S&P 500 crashed at the open and the bloodbath triggered the second trading halt this week. A tsunami of headlines hit us yesterday between the NCAA basketball tournament closing its doors to the public, the NBA suspending its season, and Trump banning Europeans from entering the U.S. And not to be left out, the NHL, Nascar, Formula 1, and countless other leagues put the brakes on their seasons today too. This officially puts us in full panic mode.
The Fed tried to cheer traders up with promises of a fresh liquidity injection, but the enthusiasm was short-lived and prices quickly retreated back to the lows. Today ended as the single worst trading day since the 1987 crash and it officially killed the longest-lasting bull market in U.S. history.
As bad as this sounds, it is important to keep in mind these selloffs bottom just when everything seems its worst. While the spread of the Coronavirus will continue to get worse before it gets better, we won’t see a perfect storm of successive headlines like this again. In fact, yesterday and today’s gut punches moved the bar so low that no matter what happens going forward, even horrible news will still be less bad than what many people are fearing right now. School closings and the MLB suspending its season are foregone conclusions. The only way for this to get worse is a national militarized lockdown. While that could happen, I don’t think any of our politicians are willing to make that draconian of a call for something that is realistically only marginally worse than the seasonal flu.
The Coronavirus is definitely running out of control, but without a doubt, fear of the virus will prove to be far more economically damaging than anything the actual virus does. While this is terrible for anyone that is seriously affected, for almost everyone else, it will be little more than an inconvenience. Humans are really good at rationalizing away risk. They will panic for a few days or weeks. But after the worst fails to materialize, people will get lazy and be less willing to tolerate the incontinence. They will wear masks for a few weeks, but after no one gets sick, they will stop bothering. Now parents are insisting schools close down. In a few weeks, these same parents will beg schools reopen. After 9/11, everyone claimed nothing would be the same. A few months later, the only thing that changed was airport security and a war half a world away.
There is a good chance this is the market’s darkest day and everything starts getting better from here. I’m buying the dip, but I’m staying as cautious as ever. My positions are small and my stops are nearby. But even if I get stopped out, I’m going to try again tomorrow and the next day. The bottom is close, but in a world where markets move 5 and 10% per day, we definitely need to be careful.
Most Likely Next Move: The capitulation point is close and this headline tsunami could very well be our darkest hour. There is a good chance pessimism is peaking and going forward we will start seeing a lot more “less bad than feared”.
Trading Plan: Buy the bounce with a stop under the lows. Add to what is working but keep overnight position sizes modest until you have a comfortable profit cushion. If stocks bounce tomorrow, ride that wave higher. If they devolve into another panic, short the weakness. But when shorting, take profits early and often because the biggest up days always come in the worst bear markets.
If I’m Wrong: The public starts dumping their 401k’s and this bloodbath is only getting started. Our stops will get us out and our plan will have us short further weakness. No matter what happens next, we are prepared and will profit from it.
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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM
Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, 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 children.