The S&P 500 stumbled on Wednesday for the second day in a row. While economic headlines haven’t changed in a material way, the market’s previously upbeat mood seems to be shifting more cautious the last few days.
Is this finally the long-awaited pullback? Maybe, but prices still remain within a few percent of the rebound’s highs. To this point, the market resisted every other invitation to sell off, including the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the fastest contraction in corporate earnings ever. If those shocking headlines couldn’t break this market, why should “a little cooling” off be any more successful?
As I often write, headlines only matter when they convince owners to sell. This time around, confident owners didn’t flinch during the latest employment report or when the appalling second-quarter earnings were released. Since confident owners didn’t care, the headlines didn’t matter.
But we also need to remember, supply is only half of the pricing equation. No matter how confident owners are, if we start running out of buyers willing to push prices even higher, then we also have a problem. The difference is oversupply happens quickly while running out of demand is a more gradual process. Rather than crash lower following an unnerving headline, flagging demand shows up more often as a gradual series of lower-highs and lower-lows. Are we at that point? Maybe, but it is a little too early to say conclusively.
For the time being, we can continue to short this weakness as I described in yesterday’s post. But until further notice, we need to be very careful shorting such a strong market. More specifically, that means if the short trade isn’t working, get out immediately and don’t wait for it to start working. A whole lot of bears shorted this market at much lower levels and their patience with a losing position only added to their misery. Counter-trend trades are one of the hardest ways to make money in the stock market and that means we need to be extremely nimble. Keep a nearby stop and be willing to admit defeat quickly. If the selloff resumes after we get out, we can always put the short trade back on. As the popular saying goes, it is better to be out of the market wishing you were in than in the market wishing you were out.
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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.