Category Archives for "End of Day Analysis"

Apr 09

We knew the dip coming, but what’s next?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

The S&P 500 stumbled Tuesday, breaking an eight-session win streak. Investors were unnerved after Trump announced a fresh round of EU tariffs, reigniting trade war fears. And right on cue, the EU said it was ready to implement retaliatory tariffs against the US.

So much for the trade situation getting better. But even though trade war headlines flared up again, the index shedding 0.6% is a fairly benign response. It certainly doesn’t measure up to the fear that gripped equity markets last year.

Today’s muted reaction is not a surprise for those of us that have been paying attention. We know most owners who fear Trump’s trade wars bailed out a long time ago. And not only did these fearful sellers already abandon the market, they sold to confident dip buyers who demonstrated a clear willingness to jump in front of these headlines.

If these confident dip buyers weren’t scared then, there is no reason to think they will get scared now. No matter what the cliches say about confidence, confident owners don’t sell, and when they refuse to sell, supply remains tight.

While tight supply is preventing any of this year’s modest dips from growing into something bigger, supply is only half the equation. The problem we is as prices approach last year’s highs, a huge chunk of demand has already been satiated during this amazing run. While most of this year’s rebound was fueled by “less bad than feared”, as we approach the old highs, “less bad” is no longer good enough and we need headlines to shift to “good” to continue marching higher.

I said as much last week when I predicted more back and forth was ahead of us:

“while the path of least resistance remains higher, the rate of gains is clearly slowing. The easy money has already been made. Now things get a lot more choppy. And choppy means challenging. Breakouts fizzle and breakdowns bounce.

Chasing these daily gyrations will most likely end in losses as people buy the strength and sell the ensuing weakness. Repeat that a few too many times and the losses will start to add up. This market needs to be traded proactively, not reactively. Don’t fall for its tricks.”

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Even though most of us understand the markets move sideways more often than they go up or down, almost everyone comes to the markets with a preexisting bias. Either people are bullish or bearish about current levels and they believe any move in their direction is the real deal. If they are bulls, they buy the breakout. If they are bearish, they short the breakdown. But not long after they react to the market’s move, it fizzles and reverses. Once prices start moving against these reactive traders, they lose their nerve and pull the plug. Buy high, sell low is a horrible way to trade. Unfortunately, most people fall for the market’s tricks and end up losing money.

Despite Tuesday’s weakness, I still like this market. This it has been challenged by countless bearish headlines and weak price-action. Yet, every time these dips fail to build momentum. We fear what we don’t know, not what everyone has been talking about for months. If these headlines were going to break this market, it would have happened a long time ago. If the market doesn’t care, then neither should we. The

This market is transitioning to more sideways than up. That means we need to be more careful with our purchases and stop-losses. In fact, for most people, they would be better off not trading this chop. Either buy-and-hold your favorite positions and wait for the slow grind higher to continue, or stay out and wait for the risk/reward to skew more in our favor.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Apr 02

Don’t fall for the market’s tricks

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

Little more than a week ago, the S&P 500 tumbled in the second largest down day of the year. By most accounts, that was an incredibly ominous sign and put many traders on the defensive. Yet only a handful of days later, the index finds itself at the highest levels in six months and within 3% of all-time highs.

While this swift rebound caught a lot of traders off guard, you would have seen this coming if you knew what to look for. Two day’s after that tumble, when the market was still flirting with the lows and threatening to violate 2,800 support, I wrote the following:

“Selling dried up and prices bounced. While we are not in the clear yet, every hour that passes without tumbling lower decreases the probability we will tumble lower. While we only recovered a sliver of last week’s losses, the fact the selloff stopped in its tracks is a big win. Market crashes are breathtakingly quick and the longer we hold these levels, the less likely a continuation lower becomes. I like the way the market is acting and the path of least resistance remains higher.”

I wrote that last Tuesday and today the market closed 50-points higher.

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While it was nice to see this rebound coming ahead of time, it is already in the rearview mirror and what readers really want to know is what comes next. Fortunately, the market has been telling us what it wants to do for a while.

Between the 1.9% plunge two weeks ago and last week’s repeated violations of 2,800 support, the market had more than enough excuses to tumble lower. The bearish headlines of slowing global growth and the weak price action would have crushed us if this market was fragile and vulnerable, yet here we stand. Rather than run scared, most owners shrugged and kept holding. The resulting tight supply ended the selloff made it easy for prices to bounce.

Last year’s epic collapse chased off a lot of scared owners. They chose to sell their stocks at steep discounts “before things got worse”. But at the same time they were rushing out of the market, confident dip buyers were rushing in. Those confident dip buyers are the same ones holding today. If they were not afraid of these headlines then, why would they be bothered by them now? They wouldn’t, and is why every attempted dip this year on recycled headlines failed to make a dent.

That said, while the path of least resistance remains higher, the rate of gains is clearly slowing. The easy money has already been made. Now things get a lot more choppy. And choppy means challenging. Breakouts fizzle and breakdowns bounce. React to these moves and you will end up buying high and selling low.

Choppy, sideways markets are best either held or avoided. This is a good time for longer-term buy-and-hold. Or simply sitting out and waiting for a better risk/reward skew. Chasing these daily gyrations will most likely end in losses as people buy the strength and sell the ensuing weakness. Repeat that a few too many times and the losses will start to add up. This market needs to be traded proactively, not reactively. Don’t fall for its tricks.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM $AAPL $AMZN

Mar 26

Why Friday’s collapse is failing to deliver the goods

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

Last Friday’s 2% tumble in the S&P 500 was the second largest down day of the year and the biggest threat yet to 2019’s stunning rebound. The only constructive thing we could say about Friday’s devastation is the collapse stopped right at 2,800 support. But as worrisome as Friday felt, two days later we are still hanging on to this critical support level.

Weak economic data kicked off Friday’s selling in Europe and the carnage continued when US markets opened. But the thing about these headlines is they didn’t reveal anything investors didn’t already know. Last year’s huge correction was fueled by the fear of slowing global growth and by now everyone knows this is a problem.

The thing to remember about news is the more people that know about it, the less important it is. We saw a truckload of selling last year in October, November, and December. Nervous owners abandoned the market like rats jumping off a sinking ship. But the thing about all that selling is those fearful owners were replaced by confident dip buyers. While one person jumped out, another person jumped in. These dip buyers demonstrated a willingness to buy stocks in that negative headline environment. If they didn’t mind the headlines then, what are the chances are they will mind them now?

And that is why every negative headline and modest dip this year has been met with indifference. Confident owners are not afraid. When they don’t care about recycled headlines, the market doesn’t care. When the market doesn’t care, then neither should we.

While Friday was noteworthy, the real test of support came Monday when we dipped under 2,800. But rather than trigger an avalanche of defensive selling, supply dried up and we finished Monday flat. While it is hard to get excited over flat, given how ugly Friday was, flat is pretty darn impressive.

Market collapses are brutally quick. They move faster than people think because the panicked crowd sells first and asks questions later. But rather than hit the sell button Monday, most traders stood around and waited to see what everyone else was doing. By nature, investors are an optimistic bunch. They prefer holding stocks for higher prices and are always reluctant to let them go prematurely. That is why it is no surprise when you give investors a little breathing room, the anxious selling pressure evaporates.

While it is easy to identify these things after they happened. It isn’t that hard to do beforehand if you know what to look for. This is the analysis I shared with Premium Subscribers last Friday just after lunchtime:

“Today’s weak price movement doesn’t set off any alarm bells yet. We’ve heard this story many times before and this is most likely just another retelling. 2,800 is our line in the sand. Dipping under it is okay, but only if supply dries up and prices bounce back not long after. I will be a lot more concerned if we slip under 2,800 and the selling accelerates.”

Three days later and that is exactly what happened. Selling dried up and prices bounced. While we are not in the clear yet, every hour that passes without tumbling lower decreases the probability we will tumble lower. While we only recovered a sliver of last week’s losses, the fact the selloff stopped in its tracks is a big win. Market crashes are breathtakingly quick and the longer we hold these levels, the less likely a continuation lower becomes.

I like the way the market is acting and the path of least resistance remains higher. That said, the rate of gains is slowing and that means we should expect more of back and forth. While I’d love to see the market surge higher every day, down days are a very normal and healthy part of every move higher. Resist the temptation to join the herd overreacting to every bump in the road.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Mar 14

Why this time the breakout is real

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

The S&P 500 slipped a trivial amount Thursday, but more crucially, it held above the psychologically significant 2,800 level. This marks only the 3rd close above this milestone since early November and shows the market continues recovering from December’s brutal tumble.

A lot can change in seven days. A week ago prices fell eight out of the previous nine sessions and it slipped under the 200dma for the first time since mid-February. Traders were getting nervous as it looked like things were getting worse. But last Thursday night in my free blog post, I wrote the following:

“My preferred way of approaching these situations is selling and taking profits early. While other people are sitting through this weakness wondering if they should sell or keep holding, I’m looking at the market with a clear head and waiting for a great dip buying opportunity. When they’re getting scared out, I’m jumping in. If most people lose money in the market, shouldn’t we be doing the opposite of most people?”

And that opportunistic approach paid dividends Friday. The S&P 500 traded sharply lower Friday morning, but that was as bad as it got. In my Premium Analysis sent to subscribers Friday morning, I told them:

“Today’s close will be insightful. A strong recovery tells us owners remain confident and are still holding for higher prices. As long as they keep supply tight, prices will find a bottom quickly. But weak close means many of these owners are developing second-thoughts and their selling will add to the supply. One is bullish, the other is bearish.”

As it turned out, Bulls won the battle and prices closed well above the early lows. That bullish reversal was the start of this week’s strong rebound. That was the signal for dip buyers to jump in and for shorts to lock-in profits and get out of the way.

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But that was then and this is now. What you really want to know is what comes next.

Last week’s dip was the perfect setup to trigger a bigger selloff if that is what this market was inclined to do. We’ve come a long way since the December lows and a pullback is a normal and healthy thing to do following such a strong move. But rather than use the excuse to lock-in profits, most owners stood their ground and refused to sell.

What the market is not doing is almost always more insightful than what it is doing. Last week the market refused to accelerate lower. Confident owners didn’t fall for the second-guessing and no matter what is going on around us, when most owners refuse to sell, prices find a bottom and bounce.

Move forward several days and while Wednesday’s lethargic break above 2,800 resistance was uninspiring, the important thing is we held this key level through the close…and then again Thursday. Prices tumble from unsustainable levels quickly and two closes above a significant milestone is a notable accomplishment.

Refusing to breakdown last week and holding above support this week are two significant accomplishments and definitely give the upper hand to bulls.

What this means going forward is that if bears want to break this market, it will take something even more significant than what we saw last week. Headlines have been far from great. European and Asian economies continue to slow. Trump’s negotiations with the Chinese are bogging down. Even the robust U.S. economy is slipping as last month’s employment missed the mark by a mile and other economic data was disappointing.

All of these headlines were perfect excuses for the market to keep tumbling lower. Yet here we stand, within a few points of six-month highs. If the market doesn’t care about these things, then neither should we.

This week’s muted reaction to reclaiming 2,800 shows this market lacks explosive upside, but the path of least resistance remains higher. The going will be slow, but expect higher prices over the near- and medium-term. While we always run the risk of being blindsided by the unexpected, it will need to be far larger than anything thrown at us thus far if it is going to derail this rebound.

That said, slow means lots of back and forth. Some days will be up, some days will be down, but the up will be a little bigger than the down. The only thing we need to fear is a shockingly bad headline that sends prices tumbling under 2,800 and the losses accelerate after that. A routine dip under 2,800 that bounces hours later is nothing to worry about. In fact, bouncing quickly would be yet another bullish sign that this market doesn’t want to sell off.

A market that refuses to go down will eventually go up.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Mar 07

Why we should have seen this coming

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis

Thursday was another tough session for the S&P 500 as it lost ground for the fourth day in a row and seven out of the last eight. While the initial down-days were trivial and more sideways than down, the last few have started to add up and we now find ourselves at the lowest levels in nearly a month. This leaves us 70-points under Monday’s opening highs and is quickly on its way to being the biggest pullback of the year.

But none of this comes as a surprise to those of us that have been paying attention. Two weeks ago I wrote the following after the market finished higher nine out of the previous ten days:

“While almost everyone loves calm climbs higher, rather than be lulled into complacency, we should be getting nervous about what happens next. The market finishes higher 53% of trading days, meaning it falls the other 47%. If a person believes in reversion to the mean, and they should, expect this string of up-days to be offset at some point by a string of down-days.”

Barely two weeks later and we’ve strung seven out of eight losing days together. Who would have thought???

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But now that we’ve given up a big chunk of February’s gains, the question is what comes next.  Even though this is quickly becoming the biggest dip of the year, it still has a long ways to go before it qualifies as a legitimate pullback and even further if it wants to match the intensity of this year’s strong start.

The market loves symmetry and that means big moves in one direction (last fall’s collapse) are matched with equally large moves in the opposite direction (this year’s epic rebound). If these oversized gyrations continue, there could be a lot more downside over the next few weeks.

We are currently challenging, and finding support, at the 200dma. If that fails, then 2,700 is the next meaningful level. After that, maybe 2,650…..but more likely 2,600. If we fall that far, most likely we will tumble under 2,600 support before finding our footing. I’m not predicting that we fall that far, just pointing out that it is a very real possibility.

The goal isn’t to predict the future down to the day and dollar, but to understand the odds and be prepared for what is coming our way. It is a lot easier to sit through a dip and react rationally when we know what is coming. This allows us to craft our trading strategy with a clear head and not overreact and make poor decisions like everyone else in the crowd.

My preferred way of approaching these situations is selling and taking profits early. While other people are sitting through this weakness wondering if they should sell or keep holding, I’m looking at the market with a clear head and waiting for a great dip buying opportunity. When they’re getting scared out, I’m jumping in. If most people lose money in the market, shouldn’t we be doing the opposite of most people?

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Mar 05

Is the market’s mood changing?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis:

Volatility is making a comeback. Monday’s wild swing produced the S&P 500’s biggest loss in nearly a month and the intraday price range was one of the widest of the year. Tuesday’s dip also marked the fifth loss out of the last six trading sessions.

Just going off of that description, you’d expect stocks to be down a lot. Fortunately, they only slipped half a percent from last week’s closing high. That said, this back and forth is definitely getting people’s attention. But none of this should come as a surprise. Last week I wrote:

“Widely watched resistance levels often turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Prices rally up to resistance. Technical traders see this signal as a good place to take profits. Their profit-taking pressures prices, leading to a small pullback. Other traders see the weakness develop, so they start selling too, adding even more pressure. Prices keep slipping until either we run out of sellers, or they are attractive enough that dip buyers jump in and take advantage of the discounts.

Given how far the market’s come since the Christmas lows, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the market take a break and catch its breath. In fact, that would be the normal and healthy thing to do. I would be far more concerned about the sustainability of this rebound if we keep racing ahead without resting.”

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Prices only slipped a fraction so far and it is encouraging to see supply dry up and dip buyers jump in so quickly. But this string of losses is definitely a new thing for a market that has done nothing but go up all year.

Everyone knows prices cannot rally at this rate forever. But they lose track of this fact in the moment. People love trends and they cannot help but imagine they continue as far as the eye can see. But just like every dip eventually bounces, every rally eventually stalls.

One of the bigger flags for me was Monday’s fizzled breakout following encouraging news coming out of US/Chinese trade negotiations. If you believe the headlines, the sides are quickly approaching a deal. Weeks ago, this news would have sent stocks flying 2% or 3%. Unfortunately, Monday morning they only managed to eke out a 0.4% opening gain before fizzling and shedding nearly 50-points. We were lucky a late-day rebound recovered a big chunk of those intraday losses, but that midday swoon demonstrates just how much selling potential is hiding in this market.

The biggest question is if Monday was nothing more than a momentary bout of indigestion. Or if it really is the first signs of a mood change. I certainly wish we could go up like this forever because that would make trading a million times easier, but we know that’s not the case. This rally will pause and even pullback, the only question is when.

While we can continue drifting higher over the near-term, the rebound from the Christmas lows consumed a ton of demand. The problem is that no matter how much better the news gets, eventually we stop going up because everyone who wanted to buy has already bought. This happens so frequently in the market it actually has its own cliche “buy the rumor, sell the news”.

The market is still acting well and the drift higher can continue over the near-term, but a lot of buying has already happened and there is a lot of air underneath us. Limited upside and lots of downside creates an almost tragic risk/reward. Long-term investors should ignore these near-term gyrations, but for a short-term trade, buying up here definitely borders on foolish.

The way I view this market from my years of experience, it is too late to buy, but too early to short. Prices are holding up well and it will take more than just weak price-action to convince confident owners to abandon their stocks. Most likely, the fatal blow with come from the trade deal. Failing to reach a deal will obviously send stocks tumbling. But even a deal could ultimately turn into a letdown if it isn’t as good as the market is hoping for. We very well could be on the verge of a “buy the rumor, sell the news” kind of trade.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Feb 28

What it will take to finally break this market

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis:

The S&P 500 slipped Thursday morning, but those early losses were modest and failed to ignite wider selling.

The biggest headline was Trump walking out of negotiations with North Korea. This development has limited implications for the US economy and is why it didn’t affect the stock market. But could this foreshadow a potential outcome during Trump’s far more critical meeting with the Chinese president? Could all the hype and hope surrounding the imminent trade deal turn into a similar bust? Given the market’s resilience today, it doesn’t seem worried, but sometimes it takes more than a subtle hint to get the market’s attention.

Prices continue to hover underneath 2,800 resistance. Even though Monday’s breakout fizzled, only pulling back a small amount is actually a bullish signal. If prices were overbought and vulnerable to a larger pullback, it would have happened quickly. Instead, prices continue hovering near the highs as confident owners refuse to take profits because they are waiting for even higher prices. That tells us this market wants to go even higher.

But all of this is dependent on a stable headline environment. Owners’ bullishness by itself has been enough to hold us near the highs and the market is resisting the more traditional ebb and flow of prices. But given how far we’ve come and how many weak holders are still hanging on because they haven’t been shaken out during a routine pullback, one piece of damning news has the potential to unleash a torrent of selling. At the moment, the most likely culprit would be hitting a major snag in negotiations with the Chinese.

Things look great and a market that refuses to go down will eventually go up. But we are on thin ice and if any selling starts in earnest, there is a lot of air underneath us.

High probability of modest gains and small chance of big losses. How a person trades this is up to their trading style, risk tolerance, and time frame. Nimble day traders can keep squeezing nickels and dimes out of the upside. Anyone holding for years or decades should ignore these daily gyrations. But those of us that trade over days and weeks need to be more careful.

The path of least resistance remains higher, but the rate of gains is slowing and the upside is more limited. But as long as owners refuse to take profits, expect the market to keep drifting higher.

That said, given how far we’ve come, there is a good chance the next pullback will be larger than normal and is something we need to keep an eye on. The market loves symmetry and last year’s epic collapse resulted in this year’s historic rebound. But when this rally finally runs out of steam, expect the ensuing step back to rattle a lot of nerves. Everything looks great for the time being, but that will change in an instant. While a return of volatility will scare retail investors, I’m looking forward to the trading opportunities it will create.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Feb 26

Are We Pausing or Stalling at Resistance?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

The S&P 500 broke through the 2,800 milestone Monday after Trump officially postponed the March 1st Chinese tariff escalation. That put traders into a buying mood. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm was short-lived and we quickly slipped back under this widely followed level. We flirted with 2,800 resistance again Tuesday, but ultimately we were unable to close above it.

The market hit its head on 2,800 resistance last October, November, and December, each occurrence resulting in a significant tumble. Over the last two days, it has proven to be a stumbling block again. Will this time end differently than the last three? That is the question everyone is wondering.

Widely watched resistance levels often turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Prices rally up to resistance. Technical traders see this signal as a good place to take profits. Their profit-taking pressures prices, leading to a small pullback. Other traders see the weakness develop, so they start selling too, adding even more pressure. Prices keep slipping until either we run out of sellers, or they are attractive enough that dip buyers jump in and take advantage of the discounts.

Given how far the market’s come since the Christmas lows, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the market take a break and catch its breath. In fact, that would be the normal and healthy thing to do. I would be far more concerned about the sustainability of this rebound if we keep racing ahead without resting.

The daily back and forth is what keeps the market fresh. These gyrations squeeze out the weak and replace them with the confident. But we have had very little pausing and refreshing since this rebound began back in December. Unfortunately, that means a lot of weak hands are still holding on. Rather than flush them out in small, periodic pullbacks, the supply of weak hands is building up to the point where the next pullback could trigger a mass exodus and do a lot of damage.

In many ways, the market is like a forest. Small fires clear out the debris and keep it healthy. Wait too long between fires and too much fuel accumulates, meaning the next fire has the potential to be devastating. At the moment, everything is great and everyone is enjoying themselves. But all it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke.

The challenge is knowing what that spark will be and when it will come. Until then, everything will be great. Prices will keep drifting higher until they don’t. Knowing what the market will do is the easy part because it keeps doing the same thing over and over again. The hard part is getting the timing right. That is where all the money is made. While we don’t know the timing of the next dip, that doesn’t mean we cannot prepare for it.

For our long-term positions, there is nothing to see or do here. If we are not selling for years, what happens over the next few weeks is meaningless and we can (and should) completely ignore these near-term gyrations. But for a short-term swing trade, we need to be careful up here. Given how far prices have come, the rewards left ahead of us are a lot smaller than the risk underneath us. The time to buy the discounts was weeks ago, not now that prices are far higher. If a trader is doing anything, they should be taking profits, not adding new money. We only make money when we sell our winners and that almost always involves selling too early. People who get greedy and hold too long often end up giving back all of their profits and then some.

To be clear, I’m definitely not bearish and am not predicting a collapse. I’ve just been doing this long enough to know that I should be cautious when everyone else is feeling good. I’m not calling a top, just warning people to be careful. A routine pullback to 2,600 is most definitely not a collapse, but it will feel like it if a person wasn’t prepared for it. The best way to avoid making poor trading decisions is to not be surprised by the normal and routine.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Feb 21

The smarter alternative to chasing prices higher

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

On Thursday, the S&P 500 posted its biggest loss in two weeks. Of course, biggest is a relative term since we only gave up 0.35%. And the competition wasn’t all that fierce since there was only one other down day in that span.  But that is an indication of just how comfortable this climb higher has been.

Last fall’s plunge scared a lot of emotional investors out of the market, but now that fear is a distant memory. Long gone are predictions of global economic collapse. It been replaced by fear of being left behind. Last year’s fearful sellers turned into this year’s desperate buyers jumping on every dip in price, no matter how small. This desperate buying is why every bout of opening weakness has been gobbled up and we finished all these days higher.

But the thing to remember about emotional sellers is there are only so many of them. We saw that in late December when we ran out of sellers the day before Christmas. The market bottomed and prices rebounded, not because everything got better, but because we ran out of people willing to sell the fear.

And here we are nearly two months later. But instead of running out of sellers, we need to be worried about running out of buyers. Once all of last year’s fearful sellers finish buying back in, who is going to be the next buyer to keep chase prices higher?

While almost everyone loves calm climbs higher, rather than be lulled into complacency, we should be getting nervous about what happens next. The market finishes higher 53% of trading days, meaning it falls the other 47%. If a person believes in reversion to the mean, and they should, expect this string of up-days to be offset at some point by a string of down-days.

That said, claim the market is going to fall long enough and eventually you will be right. But in the market, we only make money when we get the timing right. Not only do we need to know what the market will do, we need to know when it will do it. And without a doubt, timing is the hardest part to get right.

But we don’t need to know exactly when something will happen to make money in the market. Trading successfully is about playing the odds and managing risk, not predicting the future.

Momentum is definitely higher and a trend is more likely to continue than reverse. But there always comes a point where it is no longer worth it. When the remaining reward shrinks and the risks grow.

Prices are quickly approaching major resistance above 2,800 and we haven’t had a meaningful pullback during this nearly 20% rally. How many points of profit are still above us? 30? 50? How many points of risk are between us and support? 180? Risking hundreds of points to make dozens hardly seems like a prudent trade.

The most nimble day traders can squeeze the last few dimes out of this rally, but the rest of us should definitely be growing defensive. Anyone still buying up here clearly doesn’t understand how markets work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not bearish. But I don’t see any reason to be chasing prices higher after such a big run. While I don’t know exactly when the next pullback will happen, I do know it will fall through current levels. If we are returning to these prices at some point over the next few weeks, should we really feel pressured to buy today or risk getting left behind?

The biggest risk these late-buyers have is getting cold feet when prices inevitably dip under their buy point. Do they get scared again and bailout “before things get worse”? Sell last December’s plunge. Buy this February’s surge? Sell April’s dip? No wonder most people lose money in the market. If we want to make money, we should do the opposite. Buy when other people are fearful and sell when they are greedy.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM $AAPL $AMZN

Feb 13

The difference between being right and being smart

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis:

The S&P 500 popped Wednesday morning after word spread Trump was willing to sign Congress’s budget compromise. Avoiding another government shutdown eliminated a major risk in front of us and put traders into a buying mood. Unfortunately, that excitement didn’t carry into the close and prices finished near the intraday lows.

A 0.3% gain is still a 0.3% gain and it allowed us to reclaim the 50dma for the first time in more than two months. But if we wanted to be critical and look at the half-empty side, closing near the intraday lows on a good news day is most definitely noteworthy. One day doesn’t make a trend, but it is something to keep an eye on going forward. Almost every day since the Christmas bottom finished near the intraday highs and this late-day buying frenzy propelled us to these highs. But if that buying is waning, it could be an early indication the rebound is shifting into the next phase of the cycle.

The other reason to be cautious is things didn’t end well the previous three times the market retook the 50dma. While there is no comparison between now and where sentiment was last fall, widely followed technical levels have a tendency to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Technical traders expect prices to stall at overhead resistance, so they start taking profits proactively, launching the wave of selling that eventually leads to the dip in prices.

I’ve been warning traders to tread likely after the market rebounded nearly 20% from the December lows. And some people criticize me because prices have continued creeping higher. But I’m okay with that. People also criticized me for saying in December people should be buying those discounts, not selling them. By now hopefully everyone appreciates how that one turned out.

After doing this for so many years, I’ve long since gotten used to going against the crowd and actually find reassurance in the criticism because it means I’m on the right track. Nothing makes me more nervous than when everyone agrees with me.

And just because the market has been creeping higher the last few days and weeks doesn’t mean buying up here was the smart thing to do. Allow me to use a blackjack analogy. If a person hits on 18 and he gets a 3 card. That was a great call and he won the hand. But was that really the smart thing to do? While it worked great this time, how often will hitting on 18 backfire? Traders who last a long time in this business understand the monumental difference between being right on a an individual trade and trading smart. Unless you learn to trade to smart, you won’t last very long.

The market continues to act well and momentum is definitely higher, but anyone buying up here is being just as foolish as the guy hitting on 18. Unfortunately, that is the way most people trade. Those that were selling last December’s dip are now chasing 2019’s rebound. Sell low and buy high rarely works out.

Those with long-term investments should stick with their favorite positions. But those with trading profits should be shifting to a defensive mindset and thinking about taking profits if they haven’t already. This rebound priced in a lot of good news. That means there is far less upside left ahead of us and a lot of air underneath us if things don’t go according to plan.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM