Monday was a good day for the S&P 500. It reclaimed the psychologically significant 3,600 level one week after momentarily cresting above this level exactly seven days ago.
In a bit of a groundhog day, today’s pop was also driven by a different vaccine candidate that proved 95% effective in preventing Covid. That makes two separate vaccines that can get us out of this mess and the light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter
Without a doubt, our reality is far less bad than people feared six months ago when we were falling into the Covid abyss. But there is a huge difference between “less bad” and “good”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for buying stocks during uncertain times because that’s where the best profit opportunities come from. But what makes those periods so profitable is buying stocks at irrationally steep discounts and then waiting for sanity to return.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. At this point, the S&P 500 is 6% HIGHER than it was BEFORE Covid! Does anyone actually believe this Covid pandemic has been good for corporate earnings?!?!
There is no way I would ever allow myself to trade against a strong market, but we shouldn’t fall in love with it either. (The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey is near record highs!) Trade this market for what it is: strong momentum with questionable fundamentals. Just be sure to always keep the big picture in view. Long-term gains will be far harder to come by, especially if 2021 falls into a more conventional economic recession due to the growing number of permanent layoffs.
While I’m wary of this strength, I know better than to fight it. There are a lot of shorts getting run over by this strength. In fact, a big chunk of recent buying is coming from bears scrambling to get out of their painful short positions. Remember, savvy traders always trade in the direction of the market, not in the direction of their opinions.
Assume this market is rangebound until we have evidence that it isn’t. That meant buying last week’s dip near 3,500 and selling this week’s bounce near 3,650. While stocks could keep going higher over the next few days, we always need to protect our profits. Often that means selling too early. But that definitely beats holding too long and watching those profits evaporate. If this market breaks out next week or next month, we can always jump back in when it exceeds the prior highs.
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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.