The S&P 500 lost 1.3% this week and slipped for only the second time in the last five weeks. As bad as the headlines have been, the stock market is holding up amazingly well as it continues ignoring all the critics calling for a pullback.
I will be the first to admit I was among those waiting for a pullback because that’s what markets typically do. Yet, this one is defying the odds. And even that is not that unusual. Markets tend to do the opposite of what the crowd expects. Not because it is spiteful, but because that’s the nature of supply and demand.
When people expect a particular outcome, they naturally trade in anticipation of it. That means all of the people who feared a near-term pullback already sold. Once these cynics abandon ship, there is no one left to sell and supply dries up. Holding true to its contrarian nature, when the crowd calls for a pullback, prices hold up instead.
While I was one of those that expected a pullback three weeks ago, I was also one of the first to change my mind when the market refused to do what it was supposed to do. There are few trading signals more reliable than looking at what a market isn’t doing. A market that refuses to go down is far stronger than most people give it credit for and it deserves our respect. While we don’t have to embrace this market, we definitely shouldn’t be fighting it.
What does next week hold? Most likely more of the same. The market is very comfortable at these levels and it will take something significant to change that. Right now we are in a very bad place but things are improving ever so slightly. Infection rates are starting to slow and some states are starting to relax their restrictions. If we get more of the same next week, expect stocks to continue trading well, which mostly means sideways to slightly higher.
To make a dramatic move higher or lower, we need a significant change in the headlines. Either a huge surge in infections and deaths. Or a cure. Outside of those extremes, expect more of the same, i.e. continuing to defy the cynics.
That said, as nimble individual investors, we shouldn’t be married to our outlook. If the environment changes, change with it. If stocks breakout or breakdown, disregard everything we believed previously and jump aboard the next move. When we disagree with the market, the market is always right.
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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.