The S&P 500 just finished its worst week since the 2008 Financial Crisis. The Covid-19 epidemic continues to spread uncontained and governments are taking extreme measures to “flatten the curve”. It has yet to be seen if these strategies will work, but one thing is for sure, it’s wreaking havoc on the global economy. Schools are closed. Non-essential businesses are closed. Anyone who can work from home is working from home. Others are less fortunate and find themselves without a paycheck. All while hospitals are bracing for the worst.
As I wrote last week, this situation is without a modern precedent. No one knows how long this epidemic will last. We don’t have any idea what the economic damage will be. And most importantly for markets, don’t have a clue about how long it will take before the world returns to business as usual. Are we talking about weeks? Months? Even years? With so much uncertainty swirling around us, no wonder investors are on edge.
Stocks have fallen 30% from February’s all-time highs only a few weeks ago. That pullback priced in a tremendous amount of bad news. But has it been enough?
If there is one thing we know for certain about markets, it’s that they overreact. What is already too far often goes even further. Have we already passed too far? Can this go even further? No amount of technical or fundamental analysis can answer those questions. This is a crowd psychology problem and the only way to figure out what comes next is to follow the herd.
Luckily for nimble traders like us, these dramatic moves are big, fast, and easy to trade. We can profit handsomely even if we don’t know which direction the market is headed next. Buy the bounce. If that doesn’t work, short the breakdown. Start small. Keep a nearby stop. Take profits early and often. And get ready to go the other direction the next day. One day up, the next day down. Repeat over and over again until we have more profits than we know what to do with.
Will Monday bounce? Probably. Over the last ten trading sessions, we’ve alternated between gains and losses. Odds are good Friday’s tumble will be followed by Monday’s rebound. The best way to trade the bounce is to buy shortly after the open. Put stop under the morning’s lows. And hold on. If prices tumble under our stops, close and consider shorting the weakness. Again with a nearby stop. If the dip proves to be a false alarm and rebound, switch directions again.
While it is frustrating to get hit by the inevitable whipsawed, being nimble and fast means we get in and out quickly and any losses are small. More important is that once that next big directional move takes hold, we are in the market and ready to take it all the way. While bull and bears are busy arguing about whether the next move is higher or lower, I’m over here making money. I’m an opportunist and could care less who is right. All we need to do is wait for that next turning point, grab on, and enjoy the ride.
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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.