Everything seemed so promising for the S&P 500 Monday afternoon following the biggest up-day in nine months. Fast forward two sessions and everything feels different.
While the index hasn’t violated last week’s lows, retesting support so soon after bouncing off of it is never a good sign. We want to see a surge of relief buying carry us higher, not waves of nervous selling knock us back down.
And while I count myself as one of the bulls, I recognized this retreat was a real possibility. As I wrote Monday evening:
The one thing that would make me reconsider all of this above is if the index retreats back to 3,800 over the next few days. If this bounce is the real deal, it shouldn’t look back. If prices retest support so soon after the bounce, the selling isn’t over.
All of this uncertainty stems from equity investors’ newfound obsession with 10-year Treasury yields. Yields go up, stocks go down. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.
As I wrote last week, I don’t think this rise in yields is the real deal. Unfortunately, the market never once asked me what I think. Even if this rise in yields is nothing more than another false alarm, the only thing that matters over the near-term is if equity investors believe this is the real deal. If they want to abandon the market and sell their favorite stocks at steep discounts, no one can stop them.
I continue to believe this rise in rates is not the real deal and further, major bull markets do not turn off like a light switch. That said, even if this latest wobble ultimately resolves to the upside, things could get fairly bumpy over the near-term if nervous traders continue overreacting to these interest rate headlines.
If the S&P 500 undercuts 3,800 support, expect stock owners to start panicking as if the end is coming. That frenzied selling will likely last for a few days. But once it dies off, those of us that practice safe trading and sold at much higher levels have the cash to start snapping up all of those attractive discounts.
Speaking of safe trading strategies, by now most people who were following this rally higher with a sensible trailing stop have locked in their profits and are waiting for what comes next. Get ready because the bounce is coming. We just don’t know if this will bounce off of 3,800 again (boring!) or something much lower. (I’m hoping for much, much lower!)
Either way, be ready to put your cash to work. As always, wait for the bounce, start small, keep a near-by stop, and only add to a trade that is working. If the first bounce fizzles, no big deal, pull the plug and wait for the next one.
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