The S&P 500 experienced its biggest dip in nearly three weeks. As bad as that sounds, the losses were modest and only pushed the index back to levels that were fresh highs two days ago. If we want to find other signs of resilience, the Nasdaq bucked the trend and actually closed at the highest level in its history. Even our bad days are not very bad and that’s been a very good thing for anyone who still believes in stocks.
At this point, the S&P 500 is so close to all-time highs that testing this level seems inevitable. What happens after we get there is still up for debate, but the market tends to go where people are looking and the next big milestone is all-time highs. Stating the obvious, this is a very bad time to be short stocks.
In my previous free posts, I explained why this market is headed higher. As long as prices keep making higher-highs, everything is going according to plan and we have nothing to worry about. But everyone knows all good things eventually come to an end and this strength will be no different. Today I’m going to describe the warning signs we need to be looking for.
Maybe the next dip will be headline-driven. Or maybe demand will dry up as we run out of new buyers willing to pay even higher prices. Either way, hints of the next meaningful dip will first show up in the form of weak closes.
The final hour of trade is when intuitional traders make their moves and where we first see any shifts in their outlook. More than red or green closes, what really matters is how prices moved in the final hour of the day. A good day can finish red or a bad day can still finish green. What we are looking at is which direction and how strongly we moved in the final hour. Are we above the early lows, like today? That is a good day even when we finish red. Did early strength fizzle and close well off the highs? That is a bad day even if we closed in the green.
The other meaningful signal to look for is a series of lower-highs and lower-lows. If every good day is slightly less good than the one before it, that tells us large institutions are taking profits, not adding more money. If big money is selling, then we should be moving out the door too.
Right now we don’t have anything to worry about because the market keeps closing strong and making higher-highs. But the best time to plan what comes next is before it happens. If you are ready and prepared for what is coming, you will never be caught off guard.
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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.