Wednesday afternoon got a little rough for the S&P 500. The day started off well enough with the index posting modest gains. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got. Prices started skidding shortly after lunch and the selling accelerated into the close.
There wasn’t a single headline driving this selling. Instead, it was mostly a counter-action to the latest runup in price. Two steps forward, one step back.
Cognitively, most traders understand this is the way markets work, yet they get caught off guard every time prices take a step back.
As I’ve written over the last few days, it’s been a great run since the start of November. A 10% run over a few weeks is outstanding. (It was even better in a 3x ETF!) But rather than get greedy, savvy traders recognized their good fortune for what it was and were taking profits above 3,600, not chasing prices higher with reckless abandon.
We buy before it is obvious and we take profits when the latecomers are showing up.
I am in no way bearish and am not predicting a crash. But it’s been a good run and stocks need to rest. Maybe that means a near-term pullback to support. Maybe it means trading sideways for an extended period of time. Either way, this is a better place to be taking profits than adding new money.
If you haven’t gotten out yet, make sure you have a thoughtful plan in place so you don’t get pushed into making an impulsive trade if the market continues moving against us.
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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.