All Posts by Jani Ziedins

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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.

Sep 29

Market gives back a chunk of the relief rally

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

The market continued its indecisiveness and has chewed up anyone trying to anticipate the next big move.  Don’t fall for the market’s tricks and stick to sound analysis of supply and demand.  The market often convinces you that you are wrong before finally proving you right.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Markets gave back a big chunk of yesterday’s relief rally.  Seems a bit of the bi-polar temperament is returning to the markets, but these 1% dips and rebounds are nothing compared to what we saw just a few months back.  While it feels dramatic because the markets have been so docile lately, keep everything in perspective.  The market continues to be relatively calm and the sky is not falling in spite of what you see reported in the financial press.

Selloff volume has been greater than rebound volume, but that is not unusual for selloffs when everyone is on edge.  Stealth corrections often do more damage than ones everyone is talking about, and without a doubt this pullback is front and center.  In-your-face corrections flush out the weak holders and rebound in short order.  It is the stealth corrections where everyone is lulled to sleep by complacency that have the potential to put a large dent in your portfolio.  All the chatter and fear in the markets today means the selling will climax and we’ll find our footing.  Remember, complacency is what allows bigger corrections to happen and I don’t think the market is complacent yet.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market never wants to be easy and the long trade was getting a bit too obvious.  And of course if the long trade is too obvious, then a reversal becomes the second most expected trade by the cynics.  But to fool bulls and bears alike, the market throws in these whiplash head fakes to draw in both sides and then proceeds to humiliate and demoralize everyone.  Only after everyone is crushed and given up will the market reveal its true intentions.

There is renewed fear over Europe, yet again, but seriously, this story is three years old!  These recycled headlines are not the stuff that moves the market in major ways.  New and unexpected news moves markets, not something that has been over-analyzed ad nauseam.  Free and efficient markets are the most effective discounter of known information ever conceived and all of this noise is already priced in.  Anyone claiming what is going on in Europe, Asia, or the US is new and unexpected is deluding themselves.  Who is actually surprised that young and unemployed people in Greece and Spain are pissed off?  Really?  Common, give me a break.

So what does that mean for a trader?  Market reactions to these old headlines are not going to stick.  There are plenty of reasons the markets can head lower, but it won’t be any of the ones people are talking about right now.  Weak holders can get shaken out because of the headlines, but that selling dries up quickly and it becomes a great buying opportunity for the bold.  We will have a correction, just not yet.  The nervousness is too pervasive for the market to selloff in a material way.  We need more complacency before that happens.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

While there is still upside in this move, that doesn’t mean we have to sit through all these ulcer inducing gyrations and head fakes.  It is far easier to watch volatility this from the sidelines after cashing in decent gains from the earlier, easier, and more profitable portion of this rally.  Fools hold out for top dollar and only a gambler enjoys these market whips.  Buy early and sell early are the only way to beat this game and sleep well at night.  It is not wrong for an investor to hold for longer periods of time, but we are traders and our nimbleness is our greatest strength.  It would be a shame to give up the only advantage we have in this game.

Stay safe

Sep 27

Bulls come roaring back

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

 

S&P500 daily @ 3:21 EDT

The obvious short over the last couple days is putting the hurt on a lot of premature bears.  The best trade is often the hardest trade.  Yesterday the hardest trade was buying the market.  And that turned out to be the right trade.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The indexes staged a relief rally after five consecutive down-days, including the largest single decline in three months.  All of Bernanke’s QE-finity gains were given back as we fell to the 1430 trading range from early September.

Yesterday’s price action was a healthy pause to let investors regroup and make intelligent, rational, and informed portfolio decisions, as opposed to Monday’s crashing market that took out countless autopilot stop-losses on the way down.

No doubt a lot of today’s strength is aggressive shorts getting blown out of the water, yet again.  The time when the market sells off and the shorts are afraid to touch it will signal the real deal.  Each bear-trap moves us one step closer to that day.

MARKET SENTIMENT

We need to get in the head of the market if we want to figure out where we are headed.  Everyone who bought the Bernanke bounce was either chased out of the market or is/was underwater.  The rally was fairly obvious by that point and anyone jumping on the bandwagon was late to the party.  QE3 was the good news everyone was hoping for and after it was announced it finally felt safe to be into the markets, but as we witnessed, it was actually the most dangerous time to buy in the last three months.

It is basic human psychology combined with supply and demand dynamics that drive this market paradox.  As humans, evolution conditioned us to take emotional cues from the people around us.  If other people are freaking out, then it probably means a tiger entered the camp and even if we don’t see it with our own eyes, our survival depends on following the crowd to safety.  Same goes for complacency.  If no one else sees anything dangerous, then it is okay for us to relax too.

While this herding mentality works great in the wild, it will get your head cut off in the financial markets.  Supply and demand dynamics make it such that these rules are flipped upside down.  We can safely ignore what everyone is panicked about, but we have to fear what no one else sees.

Financial markets move based on new buying or new selling.  When the crowd thinks one-way or the other, they as the aggregate have already placed their trades and are simply waiting for other traders to come in and continue moving prices their direction.  But by the time the crowd is nearly unanimous in their views and everyone feels the most safe, all the buying has already occurred and there is no new buyers left to continue the move.  So just when you feel most comfortable is when the market is about to reverse on you.  And of course the opposite applies, when the market feels most risky is when it is often the safest to buy.

So how do we use this information?  Looking in the rearview mirror it is obvious that the safety of QE-finity was a mirage.  But we can’t trade last week, so we need to focus on what will happen tomorrow.  These five days spooked the market pretty good and brought the fight back to demoralized bears.  Riots in Greece and Spain are making everyone nervous.  The market doesn’t feel safe anymore.   And as it turns out, the best time to buy stocks was over the last two days when it felt like everything was falling apart.

An easy way to gauge market sentiment evaluating how you feel?  Does the market feel safe?  Does it feel scary?  Are you excited to buy the dip, or fearful of more downside?  If you’re relatively normal, your feelings will mirror the majority of the market.

Looking forward, the dips that scare everyone and invigorate the bears can safely be bought.  The dips that bears are afraid to short and everyone else assumes are just another great buying opportunity will turn out to be the real sell off.  After this week’s vicious bear-trap, a lot bears are likely to go into hibernation and that means we need to be far more careful of the next selloff.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Looks like aggressive bears who shorted the market are getting squeezed out today.  This bounce certainly stopped the downside momentum and put many bears on the defensive.  There will be a bigger corrective wave in our future, but it usually takes a few failed attempts before one finally sticks.  More psychology is involved in why this happens, but we’ll save this for another day.  If you can’t wait, check out my March 13th post on the Psychology of a Top.

We’ll probably top 1475 in coming weeks as calm and complacency return to the markets.  You can stay long for the time being, but the more confident you are in your positions, the more seriously you need to think about selling.

Stay safe

Sep 26

Obvious correction or head fake?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

Markets are lower, but seem to be finding a floor, preventing a wider cascade selloff.  Have we triggered enough automatic stop-losses to clear the deck and resume our rally?  Sticking with the trend remains the high probability trade, but the returning volatility is going to make for a bumpy ride.

S&P500 daily @ 3:05 EDT

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The selloff continues as we dipped to 1430 this morning.  It’s been a while without a material selloff and the ride was getting a bit too easy for the longs.  Everyone knows the market goes two-steps forward, one-step back, but each time the step-back happens, it catches everyone off guard and they panic.

Every rally must come to an end, and so will this one.  But the thing about trends is the high-probability trade is always sticking with the trend because it continues countless times, but reverses only once.  W could be at the start of this rally’s reversal, but that doesn’t change the higher probability that this rally will continue.  From a risk/reward perspective, I’ll gladly be wrong every once in a while if it means I can be right ‘countless’ times in-between.

And of course timeframe is everything when talking about the direction of the market.  What the market does in the next ten minutes could be different than what it does later today, this year, or the next ten years.  Bears could be right over the next two days, but bulls could be right over the next two weeks.  This is why it is so important to take profits when you are right because often if you wait too long, you end up becoming wrong.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Europe is crying wolf again and the market is spooked by the street riots.  As investors we have to ask ourselves if this unrest will affect the rate of economic recovery?  This isn’t the first protest and likely won’t be the last.  Ultimately this won’t have much impact, but the market is nervous and people by nature are 2.5x more risk adverse than greedy.  This is why the markets selloff at the first hint of risk.

The biggest headwind for US stocks right now is a strengthening dollar.  Since currencies are relative, a weakening euro translates directly to a strengthening dollar.  That doesn’t mean the dollar is in good shape, just that it is less bad than the euro right now.  How this affects the equities markets is through a strong inverse relationship between the USD and the US markets.  Just one of the many reasons explaining this correlation is a weak dollar boosts the stock prices of US companies with international exposure because it increases the relative value of their overseas sales and profits.  And of course the opposite applies when the dollar increases, like we are seeing right now with the unrest in Europe.

What will ultimately determine where this dip goes is if selling cascades, or if it climaxes and exhausts itself.  It all depends on the resolve of the larger group of holders.  Will the selloff persuade previously content longs that they need to bailout?  Or will the selling pressure from nervous holders, late buyers, and early shorts fail to trigger something bigger and the market will bounce after this smaller group is done selling?  It is impossible to gauge how contagious fear is in each situation, but under most instances cooler heads prevail and value buyers jump in when prices fall to attractive levels.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

The easy trade is coming to a close and making money is going to become more of a chore as the volatility returns.  There is lots of debate whether this is just a dip or the start of a correction, but the great thing about being a trader is we can cash in our profits and let the market figure this out while we watch other bulls and bears get turned into minced meat.  We don’t always need to be in the markets to make money, and in fact it is less stressful to capture profits by selling into strength and then waiting for the next great trading opportunity.

Some people want to hold big winners for their entire run, but that is no longer trading, it is investing.  And if you want to invest, then you need to be as thorough and disciplined as a Warren Buffet.  If you want to hold a stock through good times and bad, that is like getting married and you better know your stock as well as your spouse if you want to hold through each base and correction.  This includes reading annual reports, every article written about a company, talking with customers, suppliers, and anyone else who can give you an insight into the growth prospects of the company.  This is far easier to do with consumer product companies like CMG, AAPL, and NFLX.  If you are naturally an early adopter, look for the new companies and products you are most excited about.  Find the cult following and huge growth opportunity Wall Street doesn’t know about yet.  But remember, to hold through good times and bad, you are marrying the stock, so you better have a lot of conviction that a dip is just a dip and not something more.

Stay safe

Sep 25

Does this mark the end of the run?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day.

Markets had their biggest down-day in several months, but don’t jump on the correction bandwagon just yet as the market hates being obvious and will most likely chew up both bull and bears with head-fakes before revealing its true intentions.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The markets opened higher, but started selling off in late morning trade and the slide accelerated under 1445 by late afternoon, violating previous support at 1450.

Does this mark the end of the run?  Most likely not.  Climax tops reverse quickly, so the 10-days of sideways trade at 1460 largely preclude this outcome.  Even if the market is toppy at these levels, many reversals take the shape of a double-top or a head-and-shoulders, meaning we could easily make new highs in the near-term even if the ultimate resolution is lower.  (Although we could be completing the head portion of a reversal if August is the left shoulder)

Selling or shorting today’s weakness is the obvious trade and often the obvious trade is the wrong trade.  But today’s 1% decline is noteworthy because it is the largest decline in at least three months.  This return of volatility could be the early signs of turmoil in the markets, which often precedes a reversal in direction.

As seen in the accompanying chart, the market continues to trade comfortably inside the previous uptrend channel established this summer.  We broke above it briefly with recent Bernanke pop, but have clearly retreated back within the range.  It is too early to write the rally’s obituary, but the warning signs are mounting.

MARKET SENTIMENT

It sure feels like the market is trying to selloff, but each time big money comes in and props it up.  The million-dollar question now becomes, what is ‘smart’ money doing?  Is it accumulating shares at each dip?  Or is it quietly selling to the ‘dumb’ money chasing these new highs?  People think price and volume magically give clues on this, but the truth is the market is always perfectly symmetrical because for every seller you need a willing buyer.

What ultimately determines the direction of the market is the depth of available buyers and sellers at a particular level.  Will we run out of buyers at this level first, or sellers?  Up to this point, the supply of sellers has run short and is why prices have been bid up to four-year highs.  But this is a big move since the June lows and the higher we go, the harder it becomes to find new buyers.

I still sense there is slightly more skepticism than optimism in the markets, and as we all know, people trade their portfolio according to their opinions.  The skeptics are light the market and the optimists are heavy the market.  While this balance was far more skewed a few weeks ago and lead to the explosive upside we’ve seen, the scales have become more balanced recently and this is why the bears are finally able to exert more downward pressure on the markets today.

Lacking a strong sentiment skew, the market could break either way, but more often the market tends to overdo a trend before reversing and so far it doesn’t seem like this rally has been overdone from a sentiment point of view.  But the probabilities are becoming more balanced and there is less of an edge to being long than there was a few weeks ago.

An interesting idea came from a WSJ article on Monday quoting several money managers who are allegedly thinking of closing their books at these levels and coasting through the 4th quarter.  But here is the thing, big money managers are notoriously secretive in positioning of their portfolio because they don’t want anyone to front-run their trades, so why would these guys start gushing to a reporter about what they are about to trade?  It doesn’t make any sense unless 1) they have already sold and closed their books for the year or 2) they are intentionally trying to spook the market so they can buy in at lower levels.  Either way, this sentiment by several money managers shows greed has not overtaken the market and big money remains cautious and reluctant up here.  No doubt the market could fall under its own weight if buyers fail to show up, but the fair number of skeptics remaining provides ample fuel for a continued move higher if a rising market forces them to start chasing.

The direction is a tough call here because of the recent run up, but I suspect there is more upside left in this move even if that includes a modest pullback to flush out all the weak holders who bought at the tail lend of the recent run-up.  Remember, the market is never easy, so buying after the obvious rally was a mistake and most likely so is shorting the obvious start of the correction.  I have little doubt the market will chew up both bears and bulls before this is all said and done, so wait a bit before jumping in on either side, unless of course your portfolio enjoys the feel of the market’s meat grinder.

INVESTING OPPORTUNITIES

As I’ve been saying every day for the last couple weeks, keep doing what is working, but don’t get greedy and be prepared to take your worthwhile profits off the table.  It is far more profitable to sell into strength and buy weakness than the other way around.  Sell when you don’t want to sell and buy when you don’t want to buy.  That is the fundamental core of the contrarian trading.

Stay safe

Sep 24

Don’t fight the tape

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

Markets are down modestly, but support is holding up.  Continue holding for the time being, but if you are not in the market, don’t come rushing in now because we are closer to the end of this rally than the start.  The media and many traders are debating the upcoming election, but how the market reacts might surprise you.

S&P500 daily @ 2:47 EDT

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Another red day in the markets, but we are still holding above 1450.  This level has provided solid support and remains an encouraging sign.  Most often buying dries up quickly following unsustainable rallies.  Holding this level for more than a week shows real support and a continuation from here is more likely than a reversal.  The pattern of modest and controlled pullbacks is continuing and time will tell if this consolidation is building yet another launching pad for the next surge higher.

MARKET SENTIMENT

To date the market is largely ignoring bad news and giddy over modestly good news.  Don’t fight the tape when the market is clearly inclined to go higher.  Now this rally can’t go on forever and we are in the later innings, but so far the sellers are impotent to drive the market lower, meaning the high probability trade remains to the upside.  Only after all the bears and cynics have given up do we need to start worrying about a pullback.

A couple of key psychological mile markers on the horizon are the end of the third quarter on Friday and the election in just over a month.  I addressed Q3 in Friday’s post if you are interested.  The election is the next monumental thing after a few regular data points like the employment report in two weeks.

Conventional wisdom says a Republican win would be better for the economy and stock market, but the truth is the market is politically agnostic.  We’ve had phenomenal rallies under Democrats and crushing bear markets under Republicans, so it isn’t as simple as claiming one side is better than another.  The truth is all the market really craves is a stable business environment where it knows what all the rules are.  Uncertainty is the real demon that kills rallies because investors fear the worst when presented with ambiguity.

The pre-election poling is competitive, as is the case for most presidential elections, but I have yet to see a single poll giving Romney the edge and everything so far shows this is Obama’s election to lose.  And no doubt the market is already pricing in an Obama win since the market is always looking ahead.

But what will surprise most people is how a market expecting a Democrat win is rallying.  While Obama’s taxes and regulation are anti-business, at least everyone knows what the rules of the game are.   Romney is promising to “repeal and replace” healthcare and financial regulation, meaning all those bitter, partisan debates from the last couple years will be coming back under a Romney win.  And to further muddy the waters, Romney is promising to fire Bernanke, making the future of US monetary policy another wildcard.

Many will try to argue with me on this, but the market’s attitude is indisputable.  Clearly the markets are rallying into what looks to be an Obama reelection.  And if you need more proof, look at the reaction to the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare.  What was a crushing blow for the small-government, low-regulation, low-taxes movement has been a boon for the stock market as we are up 10% since the June 28th ruling.  The stock market preferred the certainty of Obamacare over the uncertainty of reopening the health care debate.

The key to making money in the markets isn’t thinking about what it should do, but understanding what it does.  In this case, the market clearly favors status quo over “repeal and replace”.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

The rally is consolidating, but all good things must eventually come to an end.  We probably have more upside left, but are closer to the end than the beginning of this run.  Be ready and willing to take worthwhile profits and wait for the next buying opportunity.  This isn’t about making all the money, just the highest probability money.  It is a fool’s game to try to pick the top, so never regret selling early.  Take your profits and move on.  It is what the most successful traders do and is what we should do.  Bulls make money, bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered.

Stay safe

Sep 21

Boring is good

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:21 EDT

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Indexes supported yesterday’s rebound.  The key isn’t if we are up or down a quarter percent, but if there are sufficient buyers to hold current levels and fewer profit-takers pressuring prices.  Consolidations have been more modest in recent months and that trend is continuing here.

A change in market character is coming because this one is getting a bit stale.  We need to be on the lookout because often the market changes personalities with each new quarter, something to be aware of with the current quarter ending next week.

I expect the market will transition to either a more consistent grind higher, or alternately a selloff.  Grind higher seems more likely due to all the investors underweight this market, but if fear of being left behind doesn’t kick in with the reluctant crowd, buying will dry up and we’ll head lower.

MARKET SENTIMENT

This current balance between buyers and sellers is quite bullish given how many traders are fearful of these new heights.  With most stock owners demonstrating a willingness to hold, the pressure remains on those watching from the outside.

We are approaching the quarter’s end, which is important because fund managers are judged almost exclusively by their performance.  Given how many are trailing their benchmarks, we will most likely see buying continue through next week as they attempt to spin their portfolio in the best possible light.  Right now that means buying what is hot so they don’t look like the fool who missed the rally when their books are opened up to investors.

Of course the thing to be careful of is this big push into quarter’s end on climaxes on Friday.  After that fund managers’ clocks resets and they have three months left to catch their benchmarks leading into the all-important year-end.  The pressure will still be on because annual performance is even more important than quarterly performance, but the three-month window gives them some breathing room.

We could see a dip early next quarter, but with so many lagging managers, they will be quick to buy anything at a discount in an attempt to salvage this year.  Don’t expect their buying to be rational when their jobs are on the line, and many funds will reach for performance regardless of what it takes.

INVESTING OPPORTUNITIES

Same as it’s been for a while, keep doing what is working, but be ready to take worthwhile profits of 20 to 25%.  We might be in the early stages of secular bull, but there are still pullbacks, corrections, and bear markets in secular bulls.  The market is very stingy when giving out money, so always be willing to take the few gifts it is willing to hand out.  Wait too long and the market will take everything back and then some.

Stay safe

Sep 20

Bears just can’t get it done

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 2:51 EDT

The predicted selloff continues to elude the “experts”.  Trading sideways at new highs is constructive and supportive of a move higher.  Keep doing what is working and ignore all the cynics who are trying to pull you on to their losing side.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Market dipped at the open, touching 1450 before fighting its way back.  Every dip this summer was a smart buy and there is no reason to expect this time will be any different.  Trends are far more likely to continue than reverse, so the high probability trade remains betting on a continuation.  The dips in June and July were dramatic, but recent consolidations have become far more modest.

The market cannot go up every day and it often takes time to digest large gains before resuming the trend higher.  This is the hallmark of a healthy market setting up the next bull leg.  Markets that continue higher without resting are far more prone to climaxing and reversing lower when the euphoric buying exhausts itself.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Modest pullbacks are good for shaking the tree and shedding weak holders who bought late.  The weakness also tempts aggressive bears to plunge in on the short side.  But as we’ve seen over the last few months, these dips are getting smaller and weaker.  With each failed breakdown, a portion of the crowd expecting a big move lower defects to the long side and the bearish camp has less influence the further along we get.

The key to successful trading is recognizing a change in market behavior and sentiment early.  It is okay, even expected, to be wrong, but it is suicidal to stay wrong.  Bearish sentiment continues among the most stubborn, but many pessimistic traders are giving up their compelling fundamental and technical analysis and changing sides for no other reason than the market is steamrolling them.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Fighting the tape is bad for your portfolio, sanity, and even health.  Too bad for many it takes a while to realize this and the most stubborn of the bunch will finally change sides, just as the market peaks and heads lower, adding insult to injury.  Always strive for nimbleness and shun stubbornness.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

There is no guarantee this dip will bounce, but success is managing probabilities, not predicting the future.  No doubt every successful rebound brings us one step closer to the dip that doesn’t bounce, but the smart money and risk management technique is to collect high probability profits and use those to offset the occasional low probability surprise.

A consolidation here would let some recent breakouts in individual stocks return to proper buy points, allowing anyone who missed the early part of this rally to get in at lower risk points.  Chasing is a dangerous game and those who have the patience to wait for valid entries will face far fewer nerve-wrecking whips in their portfolio.  Success in the markets is a numbers game; wait for the odds to be in your favor before putting any of your hard-earned capital at risk.

Stay Safe

Sep 19

Building the foundation for a move higher

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:11 EDT

Stocks hold the 1460 level for the 4th day, showing solid support for this price level.  Most selloffs after an unsustainable rally happen quickly and dramatically in the day or two following.  That is not happening here and the market is building a foundation for another move higher.  Any masochists still shorting the market are going to get smacked around again.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Indexes are treading water around 1460.  The anticipated mass exodus has yet to appear and the price-action is supportive of these levels in spite of all the “experts” predicting a move lower.    Looking back at previous selloffs this summer, they started quickly and decisively after marking a new high.  This pause at 1460 shows buying is not drying up and selling isn’t flooding the market.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Bears still think the market should head lower, but they have been burned several times and are becoming more reluctant to stick their neck out and fight this rally.  Some bears are beginning to question their resolve and are finally warming up to the bull side.  But this shift in sentiment is just starting and has a way to go before it gets overdone.

The recent short covering and increasing reluctant to fight the tape means the spring is less compressed.  Upside short-squeezes won’t be nearly as pronounced or dramatic as we’ve experienced over the last few months.  Most of the fast money on the upside has already been made and we are transiting to a grind higher mode.  Former bears and reluctant buyers will start dribbling into the markets and buying every dip, putting a solid floor under the market.  From a supply and demand point of view, this new buying and decreased selling is the recipe for a move higher.

We’re not there yet, but the rally will get to a point where it is so slow and steady traders become complacent.  And that of course is the foundation necessary for a reversal lower, but that is still a ways out and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

It is getting harder to find new breakouts as most of the strongest stocks already made their move and are becoming extended.  The most powerful stocks tend to make their move early in a rally and late breakouts often don’t perform as well.  If you find yourself underinvested, don’t chase, wait for a pullback to the 50dma and buy the high volume bounce.  Being smart about your buy and don’t be the sucker left holding the bag when the party ends by.  Money is made by buying right.  If you missed this, don’t fret; there will always be future profit opportunities.  The one thing you don’t want to do is put yourself in a precarious situation by chasing stocks because while there will always be future profit opportunities, losses are forever.

Stay safe

Sep 18

Stocks holding up nicely

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:38 EDT

Another tight trading day in the markets.  Technically a down-day, but such a small move is hard to flag as material.  Active trade around Thursday’s close is supportive of that new price level, even if it includes a modest slide back to 1450.  Stay long what is working, but harvest worthwhile profits because the sun can’t shine forever.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The indexes are off modestly for the second day on average volume.  This is constructive price action.  We avoided a waterfall selloff and at the same time are not rising unsustainably in a climax.  The important thing to note is current holders are not rushing for the exits.  They feel comfortable owning stocks at these levels and explains why selling volume is light and we are finding support.  On the other side, those left out of this rally are desperately hoping for a pullback to let them back in at more attractive levels.  They are reluctant to buy up here after missing the opportunity at lower levels and this foot-dragging accounts for the lighter buying volume.  But these latecomers can’t wait forever and a rising market will eventually force them to bite the bullet.  We’ll see when these reluctants start coming around in numbers because stocks will rise in a slow and steady uptrend as their buying prevents any type of pullback.

When evaluating supply and demand dynamics, combined with market sentiment, there were a lot of investors reluctant to own this market with all the headline risk and seeing short interest at five-year highs backs up this pervasive bearish theme.  But when viewed through the lens of supply and demand, this bearishness represented a large pool of available buyers.  And further, since so many investors were already out of the market, or short, that meant there were fewer available sellers remaining to push the market lower.  Large pool of potential buyers and small pool of available sellers; seems kind of obvious why the market rallied strongly these last couple months.

Traders and journalists want to assign a fundamental or technical reason to this rally, and no doubt the news played a role, but never forget, news doesn’t drive markets, traders do.  When the supply and demand became as skewed as it was recently, it made a move in one direction far more likely than. Think of it like a compressed spring.  It takes a lot of additional energy to further compress the spring, but it will uncoil by itself the first chance it gets.  And that is why the markets could pop 50 points over a couple of days.  The market wanted to go up and so it did.

I don’t think the spring is uncompressed yet, but with each surge higher we get closer to that point.  And of course the market won’t stop at zero as it almost always overshoots.  We need to watch for the point where the market is extended and thus prone for a pullback.  Up, down, up down.  That’s how the market works and getting in tune with these moves makes it far easier to make and keep profits.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The trend since early August has been large gains followed by consolidation, before making another strong move higher.  So far the modest selloff following Thursday’s gains is consistent with this pattern.  The swing trade has been the wrong trade the last two-months and there are few sings it is the right trade today.  We could easily see a modest slide to 1450 as the market shakes out latecomers, but so far the violent moves lower are not a part of this market’s personality.  No doubt this will change at some point, just not yet.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Keep doing what is working, which is buy and hold.  Let those profits bloom while the sun is shining because this calm won’t last forever.  But don’t take this too far by letting your fruit over-ripen and rot on the vine.  We’re in this to make money, not hold stocks.

PII daily @ 3:41 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

LULU and PII are having rough days.  Both are still above their 50dma, but experiencing weakness after strong run-ups.  There is no way to know which pullbacks are normal and which are fatal.  Duration, gains, and popularity will give you a clue to how much of a run could be left, but these are just guidelines and not rules.  It is easy to make money in the markets, the challenge is keeping it.

Stay safe

Sep 17

iPhone, leader or laggard?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:10 EDT

The indexes are consolidating after the recent 50point move; a normal, healthy, expected, and bullish behavior after such a big run.  No reason to sell and certainly not a good idea to short the rally.  The trend is our friend……..for the time being.  AAPL is riding high after record iPhone5 sales, but is the company falling behind its peers as other phone manufacturers are leading innovation?

MARKET SENTIMENT

Stocks paused after Friday’s new 4-year high.  While giving Friday’s gains, the market is still sitting above Thursday’s “Bernanke pop”.  This is expected and supportive behavior given the 50point move over the last two-weeks.  This is noteworthy bullish action finding support at these levels in spite of the obvious selling pressure from profit taking and shorts doubling down.

The key to figuring out where we are headed is getting into the mind of traders, especially big money managers.  We’ve had a big move since the summer’s low of 1266.  This rally has caught a lot of money managers off guard because the headlines and sentiment remain quite bearish.  But clearly the price-action indicates selling climaxed in early June.  All the sellers sold at that point and there was nowhere to go but up, and that is exactly what we’ve done.  Most watched in disbelief as we rallied, always anticipating the crash that never happened.  And now these traders are faced with a crisis of confidence and conviction, finding themselves clearly on the wrong side of the market.  We are not measured by the soundness of our ideas, bu the profits in our accounts.  The market is showing no indication it will crash and is in fact accelerating its climb higher with far fewer pullbacks giving late-chasers few opportunities to buy in.

No doubt the QE3 pop was a “come-to-Jesus” moment for many reluctant money managers.  I expect this was the breaking point for many as they finally realized they could no longer wait for the pullback and now have to start getting their portfolio in gear or else significantly underperform the indexes.  To catchup, they need to chase high-beta stocks, meaning many of those speculative sectors will start outperforming after lagging large-cap, blue-chip stocks for most of the summer.  Getting ahead of big money is where us little fish make most of our money.

And of course in its usual cruel fashion, as soon as these money managers are finally positioned on the long-side, the market will run out of buyers and nose over.   The market is a cruel, cruel beast for anyone trading behind the curve.  If you want to make money at this game, you need to get ahead of the tend, not chase it.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Indexes are finding support at 1460, showing a fair number of people are willing to buy the market at these levels and few traders are anxious enough to sell here.  For most of the summer we traded in a volatile, upward trending channel, but the last material pullback was in July.  Almost two months without a volatile pullback shows the market has transitioned into another personality for the time being.  We are in the midst of a steady climb higher, but that pattern is getting a bit obvious and proactive traders need to start watching for the next personality of this schizophrenic market to come out.  Will that be an acceleration to the upside as big money is forced to chase the market?  Or will we finally see that material selloff everyone has called for?  Or will we see both of these happen sequentially?  I’d put my money on the third option, and in fact I already have.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

No reason to get less-long after this run-up.  The market is finding support and is converting former bears into believers.  Ride the wave a bit longer, but stay close to the exits.  Continue holding what is working and lock in 20-25% profits when you get them.  Most of the time you’ll sell early, but it is foolish to hold out for top dollar.  If you have a stock you know better than your spouse, you can take the chance on holding through a base, but that significantly adds to your risk profile.  And in most instances these additional risks are not necessary because it is so easy to buy a stock back after stages the next breakout.

AAPL daily @ 3:11 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is hitting a new high and pushing against the $700 level.  There is tons of hype over the iPhone5, but as a technology geek, I am stuck wondering if AAPL is still a leader or if it is finding itself in a lagging position.  The iPhone5 lacks any real innovation and is simply playing catchup to other phones from Samsung, HTC, and yes, even Nokia.  Larger screens, quad-core processors, and 4G have been the norm in Android phones for a year now.  No doubt the iPhone5 will be the most stylish phone out there, but is that enough when Android phones are now leading in innovation?  And how about fashion trends and people’s desire to be unique?  Does the iPhone still feel cool and special when everyone has one?  The saving grace for AAPL is the exploding global middle-class, but I expect competition will put significant pricing pressure on AAPL in coming years and this might not be a buy-and-forget-it investment going forward.  No doubt momentum is behind this stock and it could continue higher in the near-term, but from a technology and innovation point of view, Apple is falling behind its peers.  Its reputation will carry it for a little longer with consumers, but remember the stock market is forward-looking and the stock price will peak before the fundamentals do.

Stay safe

Sep 14

New highs holding up

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

Bears, cynics, short-sellers, and profit-takers can’t dent Bernanke’s rally.  Stay long what is working, but be on the lookout for the market’s impending personality change.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Follow-on strength for Bernanke’s rally is keeping markets near 52-week highs.  So far profit taking by swing traders and doubling down by shorts have been unable to dampen the party.  No doubt many cynics are reevaluating their bearish views as the market is steamrolling them and disregarding any and all logical reasons it should go lower.

It feels like we are passing the threshold between fear of a correction and moving into fear of being left behind.  Investors are quickly forgetting about all their well thought out bearish research and are instead shifting gears into chase mode.  This is a major transition in market sentiment as bears and reluctant investors are throwing out their previous opinions and jumping on the bandwagon.  This shift won’t happen simultaneously the a short squeeze does, it will occur over a period of time causing the market will wedge higher as this late demand props up the market and supports every dip.  Over shorter periods of time the market is all about supply and demand.  Bears and underinvested are coming around and buying this market, pushing it higher.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Markets can go up, down, or sideways, and without a doubt this market is going up.    We decisively broke above recent resistance and are making 4-year highs.  The swing trade of the summer is clearly behind us and we are in the middle of a very directional move, but we must be wary of any pattern that is becoming too obvious.  Previously there was a lot of reluctance by market participants to buy these breakouts to new highs, but the tide is turning and that will impact the market’s behavior going forward.  Breakouts and consolidations could become breakouts and wedges higher.  There is still room in this move as the former cynics change their tune and roll into the market, propelling this rally further and longer than anyone expects, but that will also be the final push of this move.  Depending on how high we eventually go, we could expect a sideways consolidation if the gains are more moderate, but if the rally gets carried away, we could see a correction to compensate for the overshoot.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Continue holding stocks for worthwhile profits, but at the same time don’t get greedy.  Remember, we are in this to make money, not own stocks.  This move will go further than most expect, but it will also end when everyone is most optimistic.  When you start day dreaming about what care you are going to buy with all your profits, let that be the baring warning siren to sell and wait for the next trading opportunity.

Stay safe

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Sep 13

Bernanke the Bearslayer

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 2:37 EDT

Bears are proven wrong yet again.  How many times will it take before they realize they are on the wrong side of this market?

MARKET SENTIMENT

Fed announced more mortgage buying and as a result, blew all the shorts out of the water.  It is dangerous to go against the trend and no matter how many times it ends badly, people still keep doing it.  But a short squeeze can only carry this market so far; we need follow on buying to keep this rally going.

Think about what is going through the heads of big money managers underperforming this market.  A couple of weeks ago the WSJ reported only 11% of hedge funds are beating the indexes.  Days like today won’t help and now they are stuck between a rock and hard place as they try to save their jobs.  The market has not pulled back like many were expecting and the longer they wait, the further they are falling behind.  At some point the pain of regret will become too large to resist and they will plunge in and start chasing.

Today’s pop will be the final straw for many reluctant investors as they are no longer able to deny this rally’s strength.  No matter how solid their analysis is, right now they are faced with only two choices, buy this market, or lose their job.  That will be an easy choice for most, but the ironic thing is their buying will mark the start-of-the-end for this rally.  We are past the halfway point and savvy investors will be on the lookout for signs this party is coming to an end.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Market continued the trend of tight consolidation mixed with the occasional spike.  This is stereotypical behavior of an over-shorted market where bears are getting their faces ripped off on a regular basis.  Maybe congress needs to enact some new regulation that says if something isn’t working, stop doing it!!!  Of course I really don’t mean that, these bears keep giving me all their money, and besides, legislating common sense never works.

The interesting thing will be watching if the market changes its personality in the coming weeks.  These new highs and big moves are getting fairly obvious to everyone.  And if there is one thing the market doesn’t like, it is being obvious.  We’ll probably head higher for a bit, sucking in a larger number of chasers, but by the time everyone has come around to accepting this rally, that will signal the end of it.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Stay long, but start eying the exit.  There is some upside left, but we’ve come 15% since the June low.  That is a big move for the indexes and it would be foolish to expect we have another dozen percent of upside left in the tank.  The key is watching other traders for signs of when too many of them become bullish and are fully invested.  That will be our indication to start taking profits.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

Most everything is up today and if it isn’t, it should be dropped like the boat anchor it is.  Further, don’t chase stocks that are extended because they are prone to pulling back after some of this euphoria dies off.  If you are out of this market, wait for a valid entry point before buying in.  There will always be future profit opportunities, but losses are forever.  Don’t force a trade when you can simply wait for the next one.

Stay safe

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Sep 12

Don’t fight the market…..yet

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:15 EDT

The stalemate between bulls and bears continues for the 4th day.  So far the pattern over the last couple months has been strong up-days followed by consolidation leading to another sharp move higher.  This remains intact and bears who are shorting the rally are fighting the market.  A trend is far more likely to continue than reverse, so stick with what is working until it stops.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Stocks rallied at the open on a German court ruling upholding Euro bailouts.  This was the most recent headline that was supposed to make-or-break the markets.  But just minutes after the announcement, it was ancient history and the market is already obsessing over the next major news event.  This time the focus is back to the US and our Fed.  And after that it will be something else.  The market is a perpetual worry machine and the cycle of fear over the next news cycle, political speech, or data point is never-ending.  In many ways you have to be an optimist to invest in stocks otherwise all the fear mongering will drive you crazy.

After the strong open, stocks gave back those gains and traded down to break-even, but then rebounded just as quickly.  The market is indecisive again and the staring contest between bulls and bears is back.  But from my view, the skew of reluctant bulls and aggressive bears is still evident, although moderating some as the rally continues.  A trickle of reluctant money is finally dripping back into the markets.  The sign the spigot is flowing will be a steady increase in prices, but we’re not there yet as these sideways standoffs continue.

Supply and demand dynamics work in such a way it is often best to go against crowd.  This happens because the crowd already did their buying or selling according to their views and at that point are simply along for the ride.  When everyone is convinced we are headed higher, there will be few buyers remaining to drive prices higher because the larger bullish crowd is already fully invested.  And in fact, the large crowd fully invested creates the potential for a lot of selling pressure.  Crows create fuel for a move in the opposite direction and that is why contrarian investing works so well.  And always remember, contrarian trading is going against the crowd.  Too often people mistake contrarian trading as going against the trend.  What these people miss is often the real contrarian trade is going with the trend when everyone is doubting the sustainability, like where we find ourselves today.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

We are continuing the consolidation after Thursday’s surge higher.  The pattern still remains large steps higher followed by tight sideways trade.  Often the market breaks down sharply after an unsustainable breakout, but the last four days at the 1430 level show many investors are comfortable buying and supporting the market up here.

Sideways to slightly lower consolidation is a healthy part of moving higher and demonstrates there is plenty of fuel left in the tank.  What we need to watch for is breaking of support in a dramatic way, or alternately wedging higher.  Either of these will indicate  a new market personality coming out.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Stay long the names that are working.  But do be careful of extended stocks too far above their 50dma and 200dma.  It is exciting to see a stock race for the moon, but eventually gravity will catch up.  FRAN, TFM, UNFI, and MLNX are just a handful of examples where high-flying stocks have been knocked back to their 50dam.  Remember, the goal of trading isn’t to own the best stocks, it is to make money.  Take worthwhile profits and move on.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

The big single stock story of the day was AAPL’s iPhone5 announcement.  The stock hardly budged after the announcement.  Seems the phone was exactly in line with what the market expected, mostly because the new phone matched the leaked photos.  Now the question is how customers will respond when it starts selling in just over a week.

Stay Safe

Sep 11

Bears are impotent against this rally

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 2:30 EDT

Bears are looking impotent against this rally.  No doubt the profit takers and short sellers have already made their move against this market and we are still hanging within a 1/4% of a four-year high.  If that is the best they can muster, we have clear sailing ahead.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Stocks recouped most of Monday’s slide.  No doubt a lot of bears were jumping on the short into the close yesterday as the decline accelerated in the final hour of trade.  But in the first hour of trade this morning most of those shorts turned into losers as the market bounced hard.  For a lot of bears, it seems they are seeing what they want to see.  When the market starts sliding, they all pile on convinced the market is about to break wide open.  But so far each of these have been bear traps and the bulls have been fleecing these premature bears for everything they are worth.

The problem for bears is they are trading their view of the world, not the market’s view.  No doubt most of the bears are smarter and more thoughtful than I, but the market doesn’t care about that stuff.  It goes where it wants to go and the most successful traders ride along with it.  In spite of all the gloomy headlines and data points, the market wants to go higher.  Is this a case of the market leading the fundamentals, or the market stubbornly denying fundamentals that will eventually take its knees out from under it?  Good cases could be made for each, but logic and reason don’t factor into our P&L, only price moves do.  If a person needs to be right, they can continue arguing with the market, but I’m in this game to make money and I’m following the market’s lead regardless of what I think it should be doing.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market is finding additional support for Thursday’s breakout and we are not seeing the same reversal that plagued the Sept 21st breakout.  No doubt a lot of the profit takers and shorts sellers have already put their weight into the market and failed to budge it.  The recent pattern is low volatility days followed by the occasional jump higher.  For the time being this trend remains in tact.  We should expect some sideways drifting as the market digests the big gain before it is ready for its next move.  Most likely it will be higher, but we need to keep our eyes peeled for a change in behavior that would signal a breakdown of the uptrend.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Same as it has been for a while, stay long high quality names that are working and lock in profits on anything that made a 20% move.  Keep doing what is working until it stops working.  At that point we will reevaluate the market and determine the next high probability trade.

AAPL daily @ 2:30 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is showing some interesting price action ahead of the iPhone5 announcement tomorrow.  It could very well be setting up for a buy-the-rumor, sell-the-news.  The iPhone5 will be a huge seller no doubt, but the challenge for the AAPL bulls is will the iPhone5 release exceed the already lofty expectations?  If any of the leaked photos are legitimate, the biggest new feature is a slightly taller screen.  Is that enough to get people to shell out hard-earned cash for the upgrade?  Further, the rumor is the plug on the phone is changing, meaning all the existing accessories for the phone will no longer work.  So not only will the phone cost money to upgrade, it will potentially make many of the existing accessories people own obsolete. That might create a higher barrier for many people to upgrading.

The other thing I noticed while browsing the AT&T mobile website is most of the smart phones are now far less expensive than the subsidized iPhone.  The iPhone is a great product, but competitors are attacking its premium price point and no doubt it is working with Android phones outselling the iPhone two-to-one.

AAPL will have to knock the ball out of the park to continue this recent stock run and I’m not sure how much innovation there is left in smart phones.  I hope AAPL proves me wrong and blows me away with some amazing, must have features, but I’m not expecting much more than a minor redesign and internals upgrade.  How much an evolution will drive sales is anyone’s guess, especially when a lot of lower cost alternatives are catching up.

Stay safe

Sep 10

Bears keep banging their head agains the wall

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting a different result.  Bears are regrouping and doubling their efforts to short this ‘overbought’ market, but there is no reason to expect this time will be any different.  Markets are modestly lower, but that is actually demonstrating bullish strength.  Bears and profit takers are stubbornly fighting against this rally with everything they have and the best they can do is a fraction of a percent decline.   This pullback is a healthy part of moving ahead.  And the more people who disagree with me, the more confident I am in my bullish position.  In fact, I hope we go lower and suck in more bears and shake out more weak holders to clear the way for the next move higher.

S&P500 daily @ 3:40 EDT

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market is continuing support of last Thursday’s huge rally.  The indexes are down slightly, but given how far we came last week, this morning’s givebacks are fairly trivial.  The interesting thing from a sentiment perspective is how few bears are ready to acknowledge defeat.  Many are sticking to their guns and re-shorting this new high after getting blown out last week.  How much pain are these guys willing to subject themselves to?  But their pain is our gain.  If they want to keep giving their hard-earned money to bulls, that is their prerogative.

Rather than everyone rushing in to buy the breakout, I continue seeing pros and amateurs alike say things like “the market is extended”, “take your profits”, “I’m in cash.”, “I’m shorting this breakout”, etc.  This is the ‘contrarian’ trade.  Except it isn’t.  The contrarian trade is going against the crowd, not the trend.  And to me it seems the contrarian trade continues to be buying this market in spite of all the reasons not to.

There are a lot of risky headlines floating around, but remember anything widely known is already factored into the price.  In fact, most often the market over estimates actual risk, meaning there is a high probability the real risk is less than the perceived risk.   This difference gives the savvy investor an arbitrage opportunity. Buy when traders are fearful and sell when traders are confident.

Prices move up and down because the market gets its projections about the future wrong.  Figure out if the market is obsessed with risk or ignoring it.  This will give you the best indication which way the market is inclined to move.  Remember, we are not talking about price here, but sentiment of the crowd.  Don’t let price moves fool you into joining the crowd.  Step back and only look at what traders are saying and how they are position themselves.  Currently skepticism continues to be the rule and that is why the market will continue higher.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market is digesting Thursday’s big gain and all the profit takers and new shorts are unable to pressure the market as this price level is receiving a lot of support.  Thursday’s short squeeze demonstrates just how much bearishness there was in the markets and my qualitative survey of various media outlets and investor forums shows few bears are ready to give up the fight.  This rally has been most volatile to the upside and the declines have been small and slow.  We’ll probably continue that trend.  Each time the perceived weakness sucks in the bears and that primes the pump for the next explosive move to the upside.

Of course this pattern won’t continue for much longer.  Soon the market will start wedging higher as the obvious rally converts bears and reluctant investors into buyers  of this market.   At that point the steady stream of buying will cause the market to wedge higher.  But that calm is a warning that we are about ready to run out of buyers and we should lock in our profits.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

The long trade continues to be the best trade.  We might see a modest pullback as we digest last week’s big move, but this is normal profit taking.  The market  maintains its trend of higher highs and lower lows.  This is a better market for longer time frame position holds and not so good for shorter term swing trades.  Find the things that are working and hold on for larger gains 20% gains.  But don’t get greedy.  Be willing to lock in profits and move on.

MLNX daily @ 3:41 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

MLNX is having another horrible day, down 8%.  Silver lining is it’s finding support at the 50dma.  But that is minor consolation to someone who chased the stock the last few weeks as it wedged higher.  Wedges after a big move show chasing and in most instances are not sustainable.

The thing we always need to remember is market is never easy.  Anytime you feel like a genius, you need to look behind for that sledge-hammer that is about to crush your skull.  MLNX was an easy and obvious trade and it was a complete disaster for anyone who was sucked in by that tranquility.

Ironic thing is the stock is far less risky after that plunge than it was during its steady climb higher.  The violent shakeout could be clearing the way for a move higher.  Watch how it holds up around the 50dma and it could present a buying opportunity.  But don’t get ahead of the gun on this one since it could easily head back down to $40 in the blink of an eye.

URBN and UNFI keep heading higher after their breakouts.  These have also been easy rides so far, but don’t let that lull you into complacency either.  The big difference I see is it seemed like everyone was talking about MLNX when it broke out.  URBN and UNFI seem to be more under the radar and that makes them  less susceptible to a MLNX like crash.  But I said, less susceptible, not immune.  Nothing wrong with taking profits and moving on to the next opportunity.  The key to succeeding in the markets isn’t making money, it’s keeping money.

Stay safe

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Sep 07

Market holds gains on weak employment

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

MARKET SENTIMENT

“To ease or not to ease, that is the question.”  Ben Bernanke.

Jobs numbers came in lighter than expected, but the market opened higher because in its view, this weakness increases the likelihood of further quantitive easing.  Never mind that it shows the economy is weaker than expected, free money is what the market cares about right now.  But as I’ve shared before, I’m not much of a news guy because news doesn’t drive the market, traders do.  So instead of focusing on if the headlines are good or bad, it is more profitable to follow what other people think of this news.  And so far the market seems to be OK with this worse than expected employment report.  Initial support at these levels is important in holding yesterday’s big gains and new high.  A couple of weeks ago the market made a new high and then immediately reversed lower.  Ideally this time the gains will stick.  A lot of bears are saying this breakout should be shorted and if they fail to move the market lower, it indicates these levels are here to stay and potentially higher levels are in our future.

The surprising thing was to see how stubborn many of the bears are after yesterday’s breakout.  Rather than jump on board, they increased their criticism of the rally and said the new high was that much better of a place to put a short.  That is throwing good money after bad if you ask me.  The only time to add to a trade is when it is working.  If something is going against you, it is time to start reducing your exposure and reevaluating your thesis, not doubling down.  The bears might eventually be proven right, but timing is everything in the markets.  Right idea, wrong time will get you killed.  Of course I’m not on the bears side when looking down the road.  I think the world is recovering and the future is brighter than the present.  The recovery might be frustratingly slow, but they usually are.  Remember, the market is better at predicting the news than the news is at predicting the market.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Yesterday’s breakout was big support for this rally and decisively put the 1400 level struggle behind us.  All the big days in the market have been to the upside, a fairly unconventional phenomena in the markets where typically downside days provide the greatest excitement.  Down days are normally bigger because fear is a stronger motivator than greed.  People are more inclined to rush for the exits simultaneously than try to pile into the market at the same time.  So what gives with these huge spikes higher?  It is the same phenomena except turned on its head because of how many traders are short the market.  In the current environment, the rush for the exits is bailing on short trades as all the bears are in a mad dash to cover their positions.  This is called a short squeeze and we are having one after another as bears keep getting blown out of this market.  We’ll see when the bearishness finally recedes when the market flips back to more normal behavior of creeping higher and plunging lower.  Until then, stay long because the bears will keep bidding up the market until they run out of money.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

No reason to quit what is working.  The market wants to go higher in spite of the fundamentals, the tripple-top technicals, or whatever else people are using to say this market is overvalued.  The market wants to go higher and it is more profitable to go with it than to fight it.

I’m out of the office today, so I won’t be able to post charts or analysis of individual stocks.   The normal routine will be back on Monday.

Stay safe

Sep 06

The spring sprung

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:00 EDT

MARKET SENTIMENT

The spring sprung to the upside today in a powerful rally today.  This continues the trend of the biggest market days moving to the upside.  This indicates how much artificial bearish pressure is on top of the market trying to hold it down.  The thing a lot of people forget is the market is always stronger than bears, bulls, and even fundamentals.  The market wants to go higher and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

No doubt the explosive move is driven largely by shorts getting their faces ripped off.  There are people far smarter than I that have figured out exactly what the market should do, but in my case ignorance is bliss.  I don’t trade fundamentals or technicals, I trade supply and demand because that is the undisputable law of nature governing the markets.  Simple truth is the market is far larger than any of us and it doesn’t care what we think.

Now the question remains if this rally will fizzle like the previous high back on Sept 21.  But nothing is indicating this rally is on the verge of petering out.  We put in rock solid support at 1400 and there is a huge contingent of investors watching this move from the sidelines as they are under-invested.  Over time they will slowly convert from afraid of a correction to afraid of missing the rally.  Fear drives the market and this time fear is going to drive it higher.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

As mentioned earlier, today continues the trend of the biggest moves occurring to the upside. Bears have been getting blown out of the water all summer and this pattern continues.  The time to short the market was back in May when everyone was bullish.  But like normal, most traders are stuck looking back at what would have worked and not looking forward to what will work.  Profits are located beyond the right edge of the chart, not to the left.

The trend of higher highs and lower lows remains in tact.  The trend is our friend this time.  Remember, a trend is far more likely to continue than reverse because trends continue countless times, but only reverse once.  Stick with what is working.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

We have employment tomorrow and a couple European and Fed headlines next week, but clearly the market wants to go higher and has ignored any and all the reasons it should go lower.  Trade the market, not opinion.  It wants to go higher and that is what side we need to be on. Stay long until the market tells us it wants to do something different.

The volatile swing trades are behind us and we should focus more on position trades and holding for larger gains.  There is a real possibility this trend could continue to the election.  How it responds then will be up for reevaluation at that point based on how other market participants are positioned.

Regardless of what anyone says, the market is agnostic politically, so who wins doesn’t really matter.  The market would probably prefer a friend in Romney, but the major downside to a Romney win is his promise to “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare and financial regulations.  The market hates uncertainty and reopening those debates would weigh heavily on the markets.

AAPL daily @ 3:01 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

On a day like today, most everything is up, but some more than others.  The out-performance/under-performance could signal a stock’s strength going forward.  But don’t over analyze these things because some of the stocks could have already made their big move prior to the market.  For example AAPL’s move today is fairy modest, but I wouldn’t throw the stock out yet.  It’s been outperforming the market recently so a slow day ahead of a major product release is not that big of a deal.

Stay safe

Sep 05

Still stuck

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 12:54 EDT

MARKET SENTIMENT

We continue trading inside the 1400-1410 range.  The longer we grind it out here, the more we wear down the bears and the more believable this level becomes for cautious traders sitting on piles of cash.

All I hear from the financial press is how bad September is, worst month of the year historically.  While technically accurate, September is skewed by just a handful of large outliers.  There were two really bad Septembers during the Great Depression.  And who can forget 9/11 and its affect on the markets immediately after.  And finally the indexes were hit hard in September during the 2002 recession and again in 2008 during the Financial Meltdown.  But these are just 6 major outlier instances over the course of 100 years, meaning we historically have a 6% chance of a major crash in September.  That might be higher than any other month, but I don’t know about you, but I prefer betting on 94% probabilities, not 6%.

This obviously doesn’t take into account risk/reward, but as an individual trader I can go from 200% long to 200% short in less than 5 minutes, so I’m not too worried about getting stuck on the wrong side of the market.  Major institutional money managers don’t have this luxury and have to plan further ahead, but as an individual investor my nimbleness is far and away my greatest advantage and I will always exploit this strength in my trading strategy.

Right now the market is poised to go higher due to the large skew between skepticism and excitement of buying this market.  I’ll gladly change my views if the market tells me it wants to go lower, for now the bull case is setting up nicely.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market is frustratingly boring as it struggles with the 1400 level.  There is good support for the market at this level and we have bounced off it countless times since first breaching it on Sept 7th.  We’ve flirted with this level for the last month, but have not closed materially under it.  But we are also failing to see follow-on buying necessary to push the market higher.  This is telling of the market’s widespread reluctance to believe in this rally and is confirmed by the low volumes indicating not a lot of traders are buying this market.  While many widely followed trading systems are skeptical of low volume rallies because it shows lack of conviction, that is not the only way to interpret low volume.  Low volume also show a lot of people sitting out the rally that are potential new buyers that will be forced to chase the market if it continues marching higher.  It is this large crowd chasing the bandwagon that will fuel a rally higher when the market breaks out.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Hard for anyone to make money in these tight markets.  Even day traders and option sellers are struggling with the low volatility.  But not making money is always better than losing money.  We’ve clearly transitioned from a swing trading environment to one where extended holding periods are working better.  Many leading stocks are putting together nice breakouts and follow-on gains.  The market is always changing personalities.  Q1 was all about hanging on for the ride. Q2 was a volatile swing trader’s dream.  And now Q3 is dull and boring, but with a slight bullish bias.  We trade the market we are given and this is what we got.

HD daily @ 12:55 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

LNKD and DIS are having high volume breakouts today.  DIS is a 50dma bounce and not part of a  base.  LNKD would also best be described as a 50dma bounce since this recent consolidation is too wide and loose for a flat base and it doesn’t fit any other pattern.

HD is trading very tight after it’s earnings related breakout a couple of weeks ago.  Such tight trade is often indicative of accumulation as big money managers are piling into the stock any time the price pulls back, even by the slightest amount.  This puts a solid floor under the stock and once the stock runs out of sellers at these levels it will drift higher under the continued accumulation by big money.

Stay safe

Sep 04

Another bounce off of 1400

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:52 EDT

MARKET SENTIMENT

Markets retreated 0.5% in morning trade and were again flirting with 1400.  The big question is if 1400 is providing rock solid support for a move higher, or if the market is running out of steam every time it tries to move higher and we are seeing the last desperate gasps of this rally before heading lower?  We’ve bounced off this level several times already, showing good buying support here, but the fact we can’t escape this key level is also concerning.

I keep coming back to all the pessimism and reluctance from other traders.  Everyone I talk to thinks we came long way and is afraid of committing capital to this market.  Very few are 100% invested and hardly anyone is on margin.  This is a lot of money sitting idle waiting for the expected correction.  But the market usually does the opposite of what most people think and if too many are waiting for a correction, then it won’t happen.  This is what I think is happening here.  I interpret 1400 as rock solid support the bears are unable to push the market through.

Last Friday was Jackson Hole, anyone remember that far back?  The market was on edge for a week in anticipation of Ben’s “To QE, or not to QE” speech.  Seems forever ago, but it was less than a week.  The reason I’m dragging up this “old” news is to demonstrate how most news in the markets is fairly trivial and what we often are waiting on pins and needles over will be stale minutes after it is released.  The market already knew what it would do even before the Fed’s statement because it was already priced in.  You will get a lot further in this business if you focus less on the news and more on other traders.  Lets face it, the news is a for-profit endeavor and they attract advertiser money by hyping sensational stories to attract viewers.  Don’ buy into it.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market is stuck in a 1400-1410 trading range since making a new high two weeks ago.  Volatility has picked up a smidgen, but is still quite low.  This morning’s “plunge” was 1/2%.  Looks scary by itself, but in context of the last 4 years, it is almost laughable.  Today is the third test of 1400 since the S&P500’s new high back on August 21st, but so far 1400 is holding rock solid again.

We continue trading inside this summers trading channel, making our way to the lower trend-line through sideways trade instead of a move down.  The 50dma is also quickly catching up to current levels and is just a couple percent under the market.  All indications that we are not as high and extended as some might believe.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Every close for the last month has been above 1400, creating a nice level of support.  But this also adds to the potency of a move lower if we do break under 1400.  This strong support gives us confidence to wade into the markets, but we should take any material violation of support seriously and reevaluate the bull thesis if the support fails in a meaningful way.  (intra-day dips under don’t count)

MLNX daily @ end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

Individual stocks are showing a lot of strength, firmly supporting this market’s bullish theme.  Even better, we are seeing more money flow into more speculative small-cap growth names that have been under performing recently.  All good signs there is something more to this bull rally than defensive and cyclical stocks.

SWI is adding to it’s previous breakout.  HAIN is defying gravity. MLNX looks to be wedging higher, something to be cautious of.  MLNX’s big move put it on everyone’s radar and small buyers have chased this stock since its gap.  Before the stock can make a big move higher, it will need a shakeout to free itself from all these late to the party, me-too investors.  Don’t fall into the trap of investing in what seems safe because those are the most dangerous stocks to own.  Anyone in MLNX should consider locking in a portion of their profits and waiting for a better place to buy back in.

Aug 31

Bulls are firmly in control

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily @ 3:02 EDT

MARKET SENTIMENT

Headline day in the markets ended up not being very big.  Bernanke’s comments from Jackson Hole were simply parroting previous statements.  No new stimulus, but ready and willing to act if needed.  Markets opened higher, plunged at no announcement of QE3, and then like ever previous fed commentary sell-off in the last couple months, the market bounced back as quickly as it sold-off.

While the news was fairly hum-drum and the price action didn’t move us out of the previous 1400-1410 trading range, the price-action is highly noteworthy.  By many measures, not announcing QE3 today was a big disappointment for some of the most bullish traders.  This was the perfect time for the bears to take the knees out from under this market and send us into the tail-spin they are convinced we are on the verge of.  They had that fast and hard sell-off this morning to kick off an avalanche of selling, but why didn’t we plunge?  The market ran out of sellers and buyers jumped on board at the 1400 level, pushing us right back up to 1410.  So much for the theory that the market is fragile and ready to breakdown.

To me this shows the bears are exceptionally weak and overextended.  Here was the perfect set up for them and instead of raking in huge profits, they got their face ripped off in a short-squeeze.  And to be honest, the pain isn’t over for them.  Next week the rally should continue past last week’s intraday high as the last of the bears are flushed out.

While short-squeezes are powerful, they are also fleeting.  Without real buying following the short-squeeze, the market will drift lower due to a lack of support by other investors.  But the thing I am sensing from CNBC, online discussion forums, and local investor meetups is pros and amateurs alike are sitting on a lot of cash because they are afraid of this market.  These traders are modestly positive on the markets, but reluctant to buy because they fear the headlines.  As a contrarian, this shows me there is a HUGE war chest of cash ready to chase this market higher if it hits news highs.   Fear of a pullback will be replaced by fear of being left behind.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market continues trading in the 1400-1410 range, but volatility has picked up a bit with intra-day ranges hitting 1% over 6 of the last 12 trading days.  While 1% is still fairly modest as compared to the last several years, it does show a livelier debate brewing between bulls and bears at this key psychological 1400 level.  Looking at the price action, it the bulls have responded to everything the bears can throw at them.  The news continues to be negative and we are lacking a positive catalyst worthy of driving the market to multi-year highs, but the market is forward-looking and it sees something most don’t.

There is a saying that the market is better at predicting the news than the news is at predicting the market.  And this is the market we find ourselves in.  The market is leading bullish news out of Europe and US Economy.  By the time the news finally hits the wires, the market already made its move and it will be too late for cautious stragglers to profit off of the news.  And that could actually be the top of this rally as the market heads lower in a sell-the-news correction.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Today’s upside reversal from disappointing lack of action from the Fed is highly bullish.  It shows bears are weak and bulls are strong.  Stick with the market and don’t let the heights scare you.  We’re going to breakout of this small 1400-14100 consolidation one way or the other and so far the best indication is for an upside breakout.  In the markets, the best trade is most often the hardest trade.  I could be wrong and we could see the market sell-off, but that is what sell rules are for.  Buy when other people are fearful and sell when others are greedy. The market might not be fearful they way it would at a market bottom, but there is a large amount of reluctance setting up the same trading opportunity.

FB daily @ 3:02 EDT

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

Most everything is having a good day as the broad market is lifting all stocks.  TFM is following on to yesterday’s 50dma support.  This is a hugely volatile move over the last few days, so take that into account if anyone is adventurous enough to grab this bull by the horns.  FB continues making new lows, down 5% today.  So much for the next great thing.  In the markets, most often if you are excited to buy something, it isn’t going to work out as expected because the simple truth is most traders think alike.  If you are excited, then everyone else is excited, meaning there are few new buyers left to push prices higher.  The hard trade is usually the right trade and the easy trade is usually the wrong trade.

Stay safe