The S&P 500 popped Monday morning after a 3rd vaccine candidate proved 90% effective in preventing Covid-19.
Multiple successful vaccine candidates and the dramatically increased manufacturing capacity that goes along with multiple vaccines is a huge step in getting life back to normal. But as far as the stock market goes, vaccine breakthrough headlines are quickly running up the curve of diminishing returns. We saw a huge pop after the first candidate proved 90% effective. Then a modest pop after the 2nd. And this 3rd bounce struggled to even hold its early gains and briefly turned red in midday trade.
This is the Thanksgiving holiday week and that means less participation and lower volumes. Most years this is a sleepy period where the few professionals still around are itching to getaway. But occasionally, the lower volume can lead to increased volatility.
Which will this year be? That’s hard to say. If we hold current levels, it will be fairly boring. Where things get interesting is if prices retreat under recent lows. While a lot of people might not be trading this market, many have standing stop-loss orders that will execute even if they are not there to do it themselves. At the same time, dip buyers are also gone and unlike the sellers, they don’t have standing orders to buy the dip. This means there won’t be anyone to save us once the selling starts.
But rather than fear stocks if they crash over the holidays, we should recognize the source of the weakness is nothing more than retail investors overreacting to the headlines and subsequent weak price action. When big money returns from vacation, things will go back to normal, which means grinding sideways between 3,500 and 3,650.
Personally, I don’t see anything compelling to trade. The market isn’t breaking out and it isn’t breaking down. Stocks are not undervalued or overpriced. Without a risk/reward skewed in my favor, I’m left watching this one from the sidelines. Which, isn’t a bad way to enjoy a little R&R over the holiday.
If stocks fall under 3,540, I’ll short the weakness but I have low expectations this trade turning into anything worthwhile. The same goes for a breakout above 3,640. I’ll buy it, but without much enthusiasm. But sometimes the next big move starts when we are least expecting it and is why we have to follow our trading plan no matter what we think will happen.
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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.