Why cynics got this trade so wrong and what’s coming next

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

May 18

Free After-Hours Analysis: 

The S&P 500 added another 1% Thursday and hit 4,200 for the first time since last September.

While this strength caught a lot of skeptics on the wrong side of the market, I’ve been calling for 4,200 for weeks.

Here is what I wrote back in early March when the index was probing multi-month lows:

As ugly as Thursday’s session [March 9th] looked, we can’t read too much into this price action because this wave of selling was nothing more than handwringing ahead of Friday’s [Feburary] employment report.

“Sell the rumor and buy the news” happens often enough that people have given it a name. All of this week’s bloodletting actually improved the odds of a bounce on Friday. Once a nervous owner sells all of his stocks, his opinion no longer matters. So for every nervous owner that bailed out on Thursday, they lost their ability to vote on what comes next.

And more than just taking away weak owners’ votes, these worrywarts have been replaced by confident dip-buyers. If these buyers were afraid of Friday’s employment report, they wouldn’t have been jumping in Thursday afternoon. Out with the weak and in with the strong. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me.

Odds are good that this week’s selling priced in a lot of bad news and anything that meets expectations, or better yet, turns out less bad than feared, will lead to a nice pop.

The market bottomed two sessions later and now we are up more than 10% from those lows. Anyone that caught this fairly obvious bounce in a 3x ETF, like I do, is sitting on a really nice pile of profits.

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Now to be clear, I’m a trader and I haven’t been holding the same trade since early March, but I’ve been buying the dips and selling the bounces the entire way because I recognized this market wanted to go higher, not lower. Trading gets a lot easier and is far more profitable when we have the direction right.

As for what comes next, momentum is still higher, but 400 points later is the wrong time to be jumping aboard this rebound. The big and easy profits came to those of us that had the courage to buy months ago.

I can see this going a little higher, but we are falling into the slower summer season and I don’t see a lot of institutional buying happing until after summer is over. That means this is the time to be taking profits, not adding new money.

We don’t need to sell everything here, but it makes sense to lift our stops and start peeling off some partial profits. It is amazing how good it feels to put some well-deserved profits in our pockets.

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About the Author

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.