Tuesday was another good session for the S&P 500 as the index closed at the highest levels in over a month.
But paradoxically, headlines are not improving. Oil remains at the highest levels in eight years, inflation is at 40-year highs, the Fed is cooling the economy with a long string of rate hikes, and the war in Ukraine gets uglier by the day.
But as is always the case in the market, anyone waiting for headlines to get better before buying is going to be waaaaaay too late.
To get the best prices (and make the most money!), we have to buy before everyone else feels comfortable. And this crazy environment definitely counts as one of those times when most people don’t feel comfortable.
The market is forward-looking by nature and that means it trades based on what it thinks is going to happen in the future, not what is going on today. While all of the above situations are dreadful, they are not getting materially worse. And as is often the case, “less bad than feared” is an excellent reason to buy stocks.
As I’ve been saying all year, markets hate uncertainty more than they hate bad news. The market’s correction started on the double gut punches of rate hikes and a full-on war in Ukraine.
While it is obvious stocks will fall in an environment like that (and is why I recommended readers bailout back in early January), but two months later and there is far less uncertainty. Now the market can finally put a dollar amount on inflation, rising interest rates, the war, sanctions, and oil prices.
We are no longer worried about what could happen but are finally able to price in what is happening. And as is almost always the case, reality is turning out less bad than feared. (Our reality is most definitely ugly, but not nearly as ugly as the market’s runaway imagination.)
As wrong as this rally feels, this is the way it always goes. Savvy traders buy when everyone else is too afraid to buy because that’s the point when everyone who is going to sell has already sold and supply dries up. That capitulation point always occurs when headlines are their worst.
While there is always room for things to get worse (Inflation breaching 10%, oil breaking $150/bbl, Russia bombing Polish airfields, or Russia nuking Ukrainian civilians), it will take a significant escalation for stocks to crash under recent lows.
Trading always involves risk, but savvy traders trade what is happening, not what could happen. The greatest strength we have as independent traders is the nimbleness of our size. While I like the way the market is trading right now, if something changes tomorrow, no big deal, I lock in some really nice profits in the mid 4,500s and wait for the next bounce.
As for anyone sitting out of this market and looking to get in, I’m sorry to say, but this is most definitely the wrong time to be buying. These big two steps forward are poised for a very normal and healthy step back. Wait for that step back before jumping in.
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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.