In a bit of a mixed day, the S&P 500 recovered a big chunk of yesterday’s selloff. Initial unemployment claims surged past 6 million, easily shattering last week’s record and the economy continues screeching to a halt at an unprecedented rate. That said, the stock market is already coming to terms with this staggering uncertainty. As dramatic as the crash seems, we are only down about 25% from February’s highs. While it felt like we fell off a cliff, stocks are actually holding up fairly well all things considered.
As usual, there are two ways to interpret this. Bulls are impressed by the market’s reluctance to continue falling. If we already chased off most of the fearful sellers, supply will dry up and prices stabilize. Remember, headlines don’t move markets, only people actually buying and selling stocks do that. Quite simply, when owners stop selling the headlines, the headlines stop mattering. The bear’s counterpoint to this resilience is it is little more than a pause on our way lower and we are in the middle of a dead-cat bounce.
Who’s right? That’s a hard question and people are desperately searching for answers in many different places. Some are consulting charts, moving averages, and ratios. Others are looking to fundamental data. Some are even consulting the stars or reading tea leaves. At this point, one approach isn’t any better than the other. This scenario has never happened before and nothing based on historical data is of any use in figuring out what comes next.
The effectiveness of these social-distancing campaigns and lock-downs can’t be found in stock charts, ratios and moving averages that are based on past price data. The only thing that matters is if this epidemic continues spiraling out of control, or if the fever finally breaks and we start getting a handle on it. No moving average or ratio that can predict what happens next so quit looking for one. Trade this market by looking ahead, not behind. Watch what the market does next and then react to it. If prices keep falling, get out and go short. If they find support and bounce, buy it and hang on. Quit looking for the easy answer. There isn’t one. This is a very tradable market, we just need to cut out the noise and focus on what matters. Follow the market’s lead and the rest will take care of itself.
Over the next couple of weeks, expect prices to retest 2,300. While dipping back to those levels will feel scary, as long as they hold, this situation is getting better, not worse and we should be buying this dip, not selling it. But if prices slice through 2,300 and the selling accelerates, short the weakness and see where it goes. One of the greatest strengths we have as independent traders is our nimbleness. We don’t need to predict the future if we are nimble enough to follow the market’s lead.
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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.