CMU: Why headlines don’t really matter

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

May 18

Cracked.Market University

The S&P 500 popped 3% today after an early vaccine trial produced encouraging results. We are still a long, long way from a viable vaccine being ready for widespread public use, but this is the first critical step in that journey. Also feeding into today’s rally, the Fed reiterated their willingness to use its “full range of tools to support the economy”.

While those appear to be obvious catalysts for a market rally, this market already wanted to go higher and these were simply the excuses. If it weren’t these headlines, it would have been something else.

The market reads whatever it wants into the news. Sometimes it grabs on to the half-full portion of a story. Other times it is the half-empty. Then there are the paradoxical “good is bad” and “bad is good”. What is the one thing all of these have in common? The market does what it wants to do and journalists search for the most plausible explanation after the fact.

If we want a powerful example of this phenomenon, we don’t have to look any further than the sharpest economic contraction in modern history. Economists haven’t seen anything this dramatic….ever! Yet stocks are barely off 10%. Explain that one using logic and reason! It can’t be done. Stocks are this far above March’s lows, not because this is where the headlines tell us we should be, but because this is where the market wants to be despite the horrifying headlines.

The market didn’t need vaccine trials or Fed’s reassurances to rally today. If it wasn’t these things, it would have been something else. More important for a trader was recognizing this market wanted to rally. It told us that quite clearly last Thursday when it bounced decisively off of recent lows. The latest dip died Thursday morning and today’s rally was practically inevitable. (Obvious hyperbole since nothing is inevitable.) Lucky for readers of this blog, they already saw this strength coming Is this week’s selloff already over? It sure appears like it.” I certainly didn’t expect a 3% pop today, but I knew the market wanted to go higher and that was the way I positioned myself.

What comes next? Expect more of the same. Volatility is off the charts and that means big moves in both directions, but the up days will be a little larger than the down days and any weakness will be shallow and fleeting. If this market was going to crash, it would have happened by now. This could change tomorrow or next week, but until we have a compelling reason not to, we need to continue giving this market the benefit of doubt.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM


About the Author

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.