Category Archives for "Weekly Analysis"

Nov 20

Weekly Analysis: The biggest problem with this market

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

End of Week Analysis:

The S&P 500 finished the week down a modest 0.8% but remain within a stone’s throw of all-time highs.

As expected, the rate of gains slowed as we approached last week’s intraday highs and the market is quickly settling into a 3,500(ish) to 3,650(ish) trading range ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Stocks rallied 10% in early November and anyone predicting that rate of gains to continue clearly doesn’t understand how this game works. I still like this market and am anything but bearish, but two steps forward, one step back. That’s how this works. Always has, always will.

Most of the big headlines are already behind us. Investors who are afraid of this spike in Covid infection rates have already sold. Those that wanted to buy the vaccine breakthroughs have already bought. And now everyone is sitting around waiting for what comes next.

Maybe these infection rates moderate naturally without oppressive government-imposed shutdowns. Or maybe we fall back into another round of punishing stay-at-home orders. At this point, no one knows for sure.

While things turn out less bad than feared most of the time, the biggest challenge for this market is prices are already near the highs. That means there isn’t much margin for error. Stocks are priced for a good outcome and any hiccup will send us lower.

Limited upside if things go right and lots of downside if things go wrong. That makes this a poor place to own stocks. I don’t mind holding long-term investments because that time horizon is measured in years, not months. But for anything shorter-term, we need to be careful because the risk/reward is currently skewed against us.

More interesting trading opportunities will come along soon enough. This just isn’t one of them.

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Nov 13

What this week’s price action taught us about what comes next

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

It was an eventful week. After five days of counting, Biden was finally declared winner of the election Saturday. Monday morning we got outstanding news one of the vaccine candidates tested 90% effective in preventing Covid infections. And Friday, Covid-19 infections smashed all previous records and topped 150k daily cases for the first time.

Mix all of those gigantic headlines together and the S&P 500 ended the week higher by 2%. Not bad.

The vaccine headline is obviously outstanding news. Biden’s win is good or bad depending on who you were pulling for, but mix those two viewpoints together and it is largely a wash. And 150k daily Covid infections are most definitely dreadful.

From this smorgasbord of hugely bullish and hugely bearish headlines, stocks had free reign to do whatever they wanted. If the market wanted to crash, there were far more than enough excuses to trigger a stampede for the exits. On the other hand, if stocks wanted to explode higher, Monday’s 4% gap higher was more than enough to trigger a wave of breakout buying. And what did we end up with? A modest move higher.

This muted reaction tells us this market is not vulnerable to a collapse lower and it is not ready to explode higher. Sentiment is good enough to keep us near the highs and even drift modestly higher, but that’s about it. If the market was on the verge of a huge move in either direction, it would have happened this week.

As I wrote earlier this week, prices were setting up for a 3,500 to 3,650 trading range and I don’t see anything from week’s price action that changes my mind. It is okay to own this market, but keep a stop near 3,500 support and the adventurous should be ready to short a violation of this level. But as long as the index holds above 3,500 support, things are actually looking pretty good for stocks despite these dreadful Covid headlines.

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Nov 06

Free Weekly Analysis: What the market thinks of a Biden presidency

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

This week’s 7.3% gain was the best five-day performance since late March. Not bad for a market that was (allegedly) on the verge of collapse only a few days ago.

The biggest headline was obviously the presidential election. While stocks initially popped Wednesday morning following Trump’s unexpectedly strong performance, as the week wound down, Trump’s chances of scoring a second underdog victory were slipping away. Of the five battleground states still up for grabs, Biden has a modest lead in four of them.

But rather than retreat on Trump’s dimming prospects, stocks continued holding all of this week’s robust gains. It turns out the market is far more excited about the split government than who is going to occupy the White House. We got confirmation of that sentiment Friday morning when Georgia and Pennsylvania flipped blue and stocks barely budged. If this market feared a Biden presidency, stocks would most definitely not be holding steady near all-time highs.

Now that the election is (mostly) behind us, we get to shift our focus to what comes next. Which at this point is the dramatic surge in COVID infections. The U.S. and Europe are smashing previous daily records for positive tests and local governments are moving back into lockdown.

Will the economic damage from this second, larger COVID wave be as bad as this spring? Given stocks are within a few percent of all-time highs, most investors don’t seem worried about it. But that’s the problem with the stock market, things don’t matter until they do.

Can stocks surge to fresh records while the global economy is weighed down by another round of stay-at-home orders? Probably not. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in these COVID infection rates, stocks will run into a ceiling near the old highs. Limited upside and lots of downside? It’s hard to justify that risk/reward.

Stocks are trading well and we have to respect that. But keep your trailing stops nearby and be ready to lock-in profits. Wait a few days too long and those gains will morph into losses.

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Oct 30

Are bad weeks contagious or are we more likely to find a bottom?

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

The S&P 500 shed nearly 6% over the last five sessions in the worst weekly loss since this spring’s Coronavirus collapse.

A recent spike in Covid infection rates and the looming presidential election created a risk cocktail many equity owners could no longer tolerate. The selling kicked off Monday with a 2% tumble and it peaked Wednesday following another 3.5% collapse. To put a bow on all of it, we finished near the weekly lows.

Sell first, ask questions later became many people’s trading plan and they were offering steep discounts to get out at any price. But as bad as all of this seems, the selling largely climaxed Wednesday and the last two sessions were testing but not exceeding the weekly lows in a meaningful way.

Nervous owners often place stop-losses under recent lows and crossing those widely followed levels triggers waves of autopilot selling. We saw that phenomenon at work on Monday and Wednesday in those multi-percent tumbles. But Thursday and Friday turned out differently. Both days undercut the prior lows but that violation did not trigger another cascading wave of defensive selling. That absence of auto-pilot selling suggests we are finally running out of nervous owners. At least for the time being.

As is always the case, few things shatter confidence like screens filled with red. While we might have exhausted this week’s supply of nervous sellers, tumbling next week on a hung election or spreading lockdowns could create an entirely new category of nervous sellers. That said, we got rid of a lot of nervous sellers this week and to trigger that next leg lower we need something new. If next week turns out to be more of the same, or even better, “less bad than feared”, the lows are already behind us.

For the more nimble-minded trader, expect this volatility to persist for a while. Remember, volatility means large swings in both directions. Set a tripwire on either side of Monday’s open and ride the next wave higher or lower, take profits in the afternoon and do it again Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Most likely, prices will bounce Monday morning after nothing bad happens this weekend. Buy that bounce and ride it higher through the day. But remember, volatility is off the charts and that means every bit of up is followed by a bit of down. Take profits Monday afternoon and get ready to throw the tripwires out again Tuesday morning.

On the other hand, if the Covid situation gets worse this weekend and prices slump Monday morning, short that weakness and ride that wave of selling lower. But just like above, take profits Monday afternoon and be ready to set tripwires again Tuesday morning.

This is a volatile market and no matter which way it goes, expect these intraday moves to be fast and one-way. That makes this the perfect environment for directional day trading. Jump on the early move and take profits later that day. Avoid holding large positions overnight because one day’s up turns into the next day’s down.

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Oct 23

Free Weekly Analysis

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

The S&P 500 lost half a percent this week as it consolidates gains near recent highs. While not a great week, such a minor pullback near the highs and in this dubious headline environment is actually a constructive sign. Overbought markets tumble from unsustainable levels quickly and so far that hasn’t happened here, suggesting stocks are neither overbought nor unsustainable.

As much as investors are looking forward to another round of Covid stimulus, it appears that won’t get done before the election. But as I wrote previously, the market isn’t overly concerned about a week here or there as long as it looks like something will get done eventually. If the timing was critical to the market, we would have seen far more dramatic swings as these negotiations dragged on. Instead, most owners shrugged and kept holding their favorite stocks.

With little more than a week to go before the election, we shouldn’t expect a lot from the market between now and then. If the polls, Supreme Court, or even the outcome of the election mattered, we would have seen far more volatility show up in the price action. Instead, most investors seem pretty content with what they see and are comfortable holding for higher prices.

In my opinion, the biggest near-term risk is a wave of sour-grapes selling by supporters of the losing candidate. This could trigger a near-term dip in the hours and days after the election, but this is typically a fleeting phenomenon. Once those sore-losers finish giving away their stocks at a discount, supply will dry up and prices will bounce.

On the other hand, if the election goes off without a hitch and we know the winner Wednesday morning, stocks could actually rally in relief that we avoided a constitutional crisis.

Dip or no dip in the days after the election, expect stocks to trade well for the remainder of the year.

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Oct 09

The mistakes bears made

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

The S&P 500 finished the week higher by nearly 4%, giving us the biggest weekly gain in several months. Not bad for a market that many people had given up for dead little more than two weeks ago.

As I’ve been saying for a while, this is a volatile market and that means big moves in both directions. Markets love symmetry and as quickly as prices fell in early September, we should have expected an equally impressive rebound. An 8% advance from the lows in little more than two weeks is not something we see very often. Hopefully, most readers recognized this strength early and find themselves sitting on a nice pile of profits.

As I often remind people, no matter what we believe, our plan always needs to account for the possibility we are wrong. It was fair to be bearish and think the market was on the verge of collapse a few weeks ago. But more important than up or down was having an exit in mind if a short didn’t go according to plan. There is nothing wrong with trying a trade, but always have a clearly defined point, decided ahead of time, where you will admit defeat and close your positions. No one is right all the time, myself included. This is why I spend far more time planning my exits than my entires.

For those that missed the rebound, unfortunately, one of the characteristics of sharp rebounds is the bulk of the gains arrive early. While there still more upside left in this move, the gains will be slower and take longer. That said, as long as the index remains above 3,400, keep giving this the benefit of doubt. In a few more weeks we should be challenging all-time highs.

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Oct 02

Should investors be worried about Trump’s Covid-19

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis:

Global markets were rattled Friday morning after Trump revealed he contracted Covid-19 and the S&P 500 crashed 1.5% at the open. That said, stocks quickly found their footing and spent the rest of the day trading above those early lows, closing down a “less bad” 1%. Most significant for traders is the index continued respecting 3,320 support.

While this wasn’t a great way to end the week, the index still added 1.5% over the last five days in its first positive performance since late August. It is about time!

So far, Trump is only exhibiting minor symptoms and even in his age group, severe complications are highly unlikely (only 1 out of 20). But even if he develops a bad case, this is a human development, not an economic event and it will not affect the equities markets in a lasting way. There is a very clear chain of succession and strict protocols will prevent any significant uncertainty or disruption. Without a doubt, this would affect the country’s psyche and be another historic/tragic event for 2020, but it will not affect the economy in a meaningful and lasting way.

That said, the market’s initial reactions isn’t always based on logic and reason, especially in times of extreme uncertainty. This has been a volatile several weeks for stocks and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. But as long as stocks remain above last week’s lows, the market is trading well enough to earn the benefit of doubt. Until we crash under the lows, approach every dip as if it is on the verge of bouncing. (Only after we crash under recent lows should we consider shorting.)

As I wrote Thursday:

Any breakout must cross 3,400 and any retreat will fall under 3,320. Those are our tripwires. Buy the breakout and short the breakdown. Start small, get in early, keep a nearby stop, and only add to what is working. If we stick to that plan, it doesn’t matter which way this goes next. Be prepared for a head-fake or two along the way but as long as we get in early and get out early, the risks are pretty low.

Despite Friday’s dramatic headlines, nothing changed. Short the breakdown and buy the rebound. Start small, get in early, keep a nearby stop, and only add to what is working. If the first trade doesn’t work, pull the plug and try again. When it works, take profits and do it again next time.

Expect this extreme volatility to stick around until after the election and that means every bit of up will be followed by a bit of down. Get in early and take profits quickly. As long as we trade confidently and proactively, this is a target-rich environment.

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Sep 25

What we learned this week

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis: 

It was a dramatic week for the S&P 500 with large swings in both directions. But when the dust settled, the index lost a modest 0.6%. Not bad considering it was down more than 2% percent on multiple occasions this week.

This ended up being the fourth consecutive weekly loss and as discouraging as that sounds, the index actually finished near the weekly highs, largely thanks to Friday’s impressive rebound.

Was it a good week? A bad week? Or a bit of both?

Bears cheered Monday’s violation of 3,300 support and subsequent tumble. But just when the situation looked like it was spiraling out of control, Tuesday’s bounce recovered all of those losses and Bulls were breathing a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, their relief was short-lived and Wednesday’s one-way selloff sent prices racing back to the lows. Thursday was the least eventful day and ended mostly where it started. And Friday surprised everyone when prices surged, salvaging the week almost entirely by itself.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it was.

Before this week, I was giving this market the benefit of doubt. Bull markets rebound countless times but they die only once. On a purely statistical basis, it is always smarter to bet on the rebound. And that is the way I was treading September’s bounce until this week. I was even willing to give Monday’s tumble a pass since we recovered a big chunk of those early losses by the close. As most experienced traders know, it isn’t how you start the day but how you finish that matters most.

Wednesday’s tumble was the one I couldn’t forgive. If the market was truly oversold, prices should have sprung back decisively, not retreated back to the lows. Wednesday told us two things. First, this market is not grossly oversold and ripe for a snapback. And second, there are still a lot of nervous owners barely hanging on.

I’m not bearish by any stretch, but I’m no longer holding out for a big bounce. Markets can only do one of three things, up, down, or sideways. At this point, it looks like this market wants to grind sideways and that means we should expect a lot more choppy trade like this week. There will be big pops and dramatic drops, but expect these moves to fizzle and reverse within days, if not hours.

The best way to trade this chop is to get in early, keep a nearby stop, and just when it feels like things are finally going your way, lock-in profits because the wind is about to change directions. We will see violations of the lows and pops back above support, but rather than chase these directional moves, we should be taking profits and getting ready for the reversal.

And if that sounds like too much work. Don’t worry about it. Sometimes the best trade is to not trade. Better opportunities will be along soon enough. We just have to be disciplined and patient enough to wait for them.

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Sep 18

After retreating back to the lows, what comes next

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis:

It was a mixed week for the S&P 500. Monday started with a nice pop as the index launched its second rebound attempt from September’s swoon. Unfortunately, stocks could only string together two winning sessions before three successive losses knocked us back to where we started. So much for bounce attempt #2.

Headlines remain dreadful, but they’ve been dreadful for months and in that regard, nothing has changed. Instead, most of this weakness comes from the high-flying tech sector that led this miraculous charge to all-time highs. Live by tech stocks, die by tech stocks. At least that’s how this has played out so far.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the tech trade. These companies are still performing at the top of their game and most are insulated from Covid. In fact, many like NFLX and AMZN actually benefited from the lockdowns.

If it isn’t the fundamentals, what is the problem with the tech trade? Simple. Two steps forward, one step back. Cognitively, everyone knows the market moves in waves, unfortunately, most people forget this very basic concept in the heat of battle. Tech stocks raced higher and it only makes sense that at some point, they take a break and cool off. This appears to be that point.

If September’s dip is a normal and healthy thing to do, there is no reason to panic and abandon ship. The world is not ending and the market is not crashing. This is nothing more than stocks taking well deserved a break. These tech companies were the best-of-the-best coming into September and they will still be the best-of-the-best leaving September. All we need to do is put up with a little near-term volatility. No big deal.

Friday’s intraday dip in the S&P 500 undercut both the weekly lows and made fresh monthly lows. Nervous traders often place their stops under recent lows and that leaves us vulnerable to an avalanche of autopilot selling if the market undercuts those widely followed levels. But guess what happened today when we undercut the lows? Nothing. The market slid past the lows and rather than accelerate lower, supply dried up and prices bounced.

This resilience tells us we are running out of nervous sellers and there is very little supply underneath the market. Most owners do not have their finger on the sell button. If they did, we would have seen that avalanche of selling overwhelm the market this afternoon. Instead, most owners shrugged and kept holding. That is a very bullish development.

As I wrote earlier this week, as long as the S&P 500 remains above 3,300, this continues to be a dip-buying opportunity. Only after the market crashes through 3,300 should we consider shorting. If the imminent collapse is as big as the naysayers claim, we can afford to be a little late and still make a boatload of money. Until then, I’m giving this bull market the benefit of doubt. That means buying every bounce attempt, including Friday afternoon.

Obviously, the first and second bounce didn’t work, but that’s to be expected. If we knew which bounce was the real deal, this would be easy and everyone would be rich. Now that we’re on bounce attempt #3, I’m a little more hopeful. Statistically speaking, the 3rd bounce tends to be the most successful.

As long as we start small, get in early, keep a nearby stop, and only add to what is working, any losses from buying the wrong bounce are small. More important is that we put ourselves in the right place at the right time to profit when this thing finally takes off. If I’m wrong and the market collapses next week, no big deal. I’ll close my long and go short. In fact, my trading account actually prefers a bigger selloff because volatile markets are extremely profitable. The bigger the dip, the bigger the payday.

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Sep 11

The breakdown that wasn’t

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis: 

The S&P 500 started the holiday-shortened week the same way it ended the previous week, deep in the red. That said, Tuesday’s lows were about as bad as it got. The market attempted a rebound Wednesday. Thursday it gave back those gains. And Friday finished flat.

It’s hard to call this week good, but six days into a selloff and it definitely feels like the tidal wave of selling lost a lot of its early momentum.

While the market remains 7% under last week’s highs and bears are the most confident they’ve been in months, their inability to extend the selloff on Friday is definitely noteworthy. We undercut the weekly lows and instead of triggering another avalanche of defensive selling, supply dried up and prices bounce back to breakeven. If this market really was fragile and vulnerable, these little cracks spiral into gaping holes, they don’t bounce back within hours.

If we focus on the last few days, it seems like the market is settling into a stalemate. While this could still break either way, I give the edge to the bulls. Everyone knows market crashes are breathtakingly quick. Sell first and ask questions later is the name of the game. On the other hand, holding steady for three days gives nervous owners time to regain their composure and it suggests fearful supply is drying up. If we hold current levels into next week, bulls will even start getting their confidence back.

It all comes down to Monday. A strong open is buyable with a stop near 3,310. If that strength fizzles and prices retreat, no big deal, we pull the plug and wait for the next bounce. But most likely, that strength will stick and even accelerate. Wait too long and there is a good chance you will miss the move.

The only thing to be wary of is a crash under 3,300. Few things shatter confidence like screens filled with red and if we crash under recent lows, all bets are off and the most aggressive can try shorting. But as long as we remain above 3,310, this is a buyable dip. Remember, start small, get in early, keep a nearby stop, and only add to what is working. If prices crash next week, no big deal, it just gives us more profit potential when the market finally bounces.

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Jun 19

Weekly analysis: Bad day, good week, and what it means

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Review and Lookahead: 

Friday’s price action was disappointing as a 40-point opening gain dissolved into a 20-point loss. But if you zoomed out to the weekly view, it was actually a good week and the market reclaimed 60-points that were lost the previous week.

Headlines continue obsessing over a “second wave” and Friday’s tumble was exacerbated Apple re-closing 11 of its stores in four states.

Hopes of a quick recovery could be thwarted by another government-imposed shutdown, but so far most states continue reopening despite the recent uptick in infections. At this point, there might not be the political will to force people to stay indoors indefinitely.

But even if the government doesn’t force us to stay indoors, people might be reluctant to resume their normal lives if every news broadcast starts with a body count. Fear-mongering and human nature are just as important to this recovery as government policy.

But when it comes to stock prices, investor sentiment is far more important than reality. As long as investors remain optimistic about the future and refuse to sell their favorite stocks at a discount, expect stock prices to remain stubbornly firm despite what the headlines keep shouting at us.

It has been a scary few months and stock owners who fear the Coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns have been given plenty of time to bail out. And not only that, these nervous sellers were replaced by confident dip-buyers who were buying despite the dire headlines. If these confident owners didn’t sell the “first wave”, what are the chances they will sell this “second wave”? When confident owners refuse to sell, headlines stop mattering.

As long as this market remains above 3k support, the larger Covid rebound remains alive and well. Even a dip and test of this level isn’t a reason to abandon ship. But if prices fall under this level and the selling accelerates, as nimble traders, it is our responsibility to get out and reassess. Until then, continue giving this rebound the benefit of doubt.

Next week is an important make-or-break week for the market. If the breakdown doesn’t happen next week, it isn’t going to happen. Keep your stops near 3k and let the market tell us what it wants to do next. Until the price action tells us otherwise, ignore all the cynicism and second-guessing.

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May 29

How much life is left in this rebound?

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis and Lookahead:

The S&P 500 extended its weekly win streak to three out of the last four and finally reclaimed the 200dma for the first time since early March. As much as it feels like the wheels are coming off the global economy, the S&P 500 is completely oblivious and 10% shy of all-time highs. (The Nasdaq is only 4% away.)

As much fun as it was watching the market rally 40% in two months, we need to keep our expectations in check. There is no way we will do another 40%. Even collecting another 10% to get back to all-time highs will be challenging. While this feels like an invincible market, someone always gets left holding the bag. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bear or anything close to that. But I have been doing this long enough to know that we need to be really careful when this feels too easy. By the time this resilience is obvious to everyone, it is getting really late in the game.

Without a doubt, momentum can keep carrying us a little higher, but this is definitely a better place to be locking-in swing-trading profits than chasing prices higher. If we are in this to make money, the only way to do that is by selling our favorite positions. Being proactive usually means selling too early, but if we assume it is impossible to consistently pick tops, that means we either sell too early or we sell too late. I like selling too early because that leaves me in the best position possible to take advantage of the next opportunity. When everyone else is debating whether they should bailout, I’m looking at a buyble the dip.

But that’s just me. You do what’s right for you. As nice as this ride has been, it is probably time to start planning our exit. Whether that means selling proactively on the way up or following the market with a trailing stop and getting out on the way down, it doesn’t matter as long as you pick something. And even better, do a little of both! Take some profits proactively and hold the rest with a trailing stop. But whatever you do, don’t be that guy left holding the bag.

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May 23

Should we be shorting this strength?

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead: 

This was a good week for the S&P 500 and it logged a 3.2% gain. That said, nearly all of those gains occurred Monday morning at the open when prices snapped back from the previous week’s dip. Following those early gains, the market spent most of the week drifting sideways. But given how dreadful the economic headlines are, sideways is an impressive achievement in of itself.

Two weeks ago the market pulled back as much as 6% in the biggest test of this rebound. But rather than crumble, prices bounced back to set even higher-highs. Instead of caving to the pressure, this resilient market keeps grinding higher.

There is an endless stream of cynics criticizing this market for refusing to go down. But rather than argue with this strength, wouldn’t it be smarter to profit from it? That’s one of the things I don’t understand about many traders. They frequently accuse the market of being “rigged”. Well, if you know the market is rigged, instead of complaining about it, why don’t you turn those insights into a few bucks? If we know this Covid market is “broken”, rather than argue with it, why not use this knowledge to make some money?

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been suspicious of this rebound and have been wary of the “inevitable” pullback. But as long as this market keeps trading well and is grinding higher, I have no other choice but to respect that and give it the benefit of doubt. There is nothing wrong with shorting the cracks when they form, but we need to be quick to lock-in profits because it gets ugly real quick if we stubbornly hold a losing short too long.

But more than question this strength, when a market is trading this well, we follow those signals and keep jumping aboard the bounces. I have no idea how much longer this rebound can continue defying gravity, but as long as it keeps telling me it wants to go higher, I have no choice but to grab on and enjoy the ride.

Until we get a string of dreadful closes or start a new pattern of lower-highs, we must continue giving this market the benefit of doubt. There will be inevitable down-days along the way, but as long as there is more up than down, this rebound is alive and well.

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May 09

How much risk are you holding?

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU , Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis and Lookahead: 

The S&P 500 added 3.5% this week and produced its first weekly gain in three weeks. That said, the previous two weekly losses were fairly modest at -1.3% and -0.2%. This continues to be the most epic rebound of all rebounds and the index is towering 30% above March’s lows.

In previous posts I covered the reasons this market is ignoring the horrific economic carnage surrounding us. But for those that missed it, it mostly comes down to the market’s forward-looking nature pricing stocks for where we are headed, not where we are today. The stock market expects the economic situation to be much improved in six months and that is how it is valuing stocks today.

But now that stocks are significantly above the selloff’s bottom, is there still a reason to be buying stocks at these levels? As is usually the case, the answer is both Yes and No.

First, let’s start with the Yes. Momentum is definitely higher and this market is refusing all invitations to breakdown. We just completed the seventh week of this rebound and if it was unsustainable and vulnerable to a crash, it would have happened by now. Compare this to the typical market crashes that are breathtakingly quick and force traders to sell first and ask questions later. The market most definitely doesn’t give us the luxury of multiple months to thoughtfully consider the full situation and allow us to sell in a calm and orderly fashion before the crash.

But just because this market is trading well and will most likely continue trading well doesn’t mean it is a good buy. Successful trading has less to do with the outcome of any individual trade and is more about managing our risks. Let’s say chances are good we can make $20 over the next few weeks. That seems like a no brainer, right? Well, what if that opportunity to make $20 also came with the risk we could lose $80. Does it still seem like a good deal? Probably not.

This market is dramatically higher and most likely it will keep going higher. But just because it goes higher doesn’t mean we should be chasing it here. The big run from the March lows ate up a big portion of the upside and means there is less profit potential left for us to squeeze out of the market over the near-term. And more than just limited upside, if there are any bumps in the road, there is an awful lot of air underneath us right now.

Given how skewed against us the risk/reward currently is, this is definitely a better place to be locking-in profits than adding new money. Just because the market goes up next week and the week after doesn’t mean buying stocks at these prices was the smart trade.

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

May 02

What to look for next week and how to trade it

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis:

The S&P 500 finished in the red last week but the 0.2% loss hardly seems noteworthy. The optimist will say a six-point loss is laughable. The pessimist will say the lack of meaningful buying is the early signs demand is drying up. Which side is right? While I’d love to tell you, unfortunately, we will only know after it happens.

Momentum or gravity, which wins next week? While I cannot say what direction we go, we are definitely at a tipping point. If this market doesn’t break this week, it isn’t going to break anytime soon and we can quit worrying about it. But if it breaks, it is going to break in a big way. Either no move or a big move, now that’s something I can plan a trade around.

All we need to do is wait for the market to reveal its hand. If it stumbles, short the weakness with a nearby stop. If that initial wave of selling fizzles and bounces, cover and wait for the next opportunity. Just because the first trade doesn’t work doesn’t mean we give up and go home. Sometimes it is the second or third move that finally works. If we don’t stick around, then we let someone else collect profits that were supposed to come to us.

On the other side, if we get to the back half of the week and the selloff hasn’t started, give up because it ain’t going to happen. There is a fine line between patient and stubborn and we don’t want to step over it.

As usual, start early and start small. Regardless of the opening gap, short any early move that stumbles from the opening levels with a stop just above this level. Only add more money after the trade starts working. If we close near the lows, consider holding the position overnight. If the market rallies into the close, take what profits we have and try again tomorrow. If the first trade doesn’t work, get out and try again. And if the bounce is decisive, admit defeat and go long. There is no room for pride in the market, only making money and losing money.

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

Apr 24

What to expect from this market next week

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead

The S&P 500 lost 1.3% this week and slipped for only the second time in the last five weeks. As bad as the headlines have been, the stock market is holding up amazingly well as it continues ignoring all the critics calling for a pullback.

I will be the first to admit I was among those waiting for a pullback because that’s what markets typically do. Yet, this one is defying the odds. And even that is not that unusual. Markets tend to do the opposite of what the crowd expects. Not because it is spiteful, but because that’s the nature of supply and demand.

When people expect a particular outcome, they naturally trade in anticipation of it. That means all of the people who feared a near-term pullback already sold. Once these cynics abandon ship, there is no one left to sell and supply dries up. Holding true to its contrarian nature, when the crowd calls for a pullback, prices hold up instead.

While I was one of those that expected a pullback three weeks ago, I was also one of the first to change my mind when the market refused to do what it was supposed to do. There are few trading signals more reliable than looking at what a market isn’t doing. A market that refuses to go down is far stronger than most people give it credit for and it deserves our respect. While we don’t have to embrace this market, we definitely shouldn’t be fighting it.

What does next week hold? Most likely more of the same. The market is very comfortable at these levels and it will take something significant to change that. Right now we are in a very bad place but things are improving ever so slightly. Infection rates are starting to slow and some states are starting to relax their restrictions. If we get more of the same next week, expect stocks to continue trading well, which mostly means sideways to slightly higher.

To make a dramatic move higher or lower, we need a significant change in the headlines. Either a huge surge in infections and deaths. Or a cure. Outside of those extremes, expect more of the same, i.e. continuing to defy the cynics.

That said, as nimble individual investors, we shouldn’t be married to our outlook. If the environment changes, change with it. If stocks breakout or breakdown, disregard everything we believed previously and jump aboard the next move. When we disagree with the market, the market is always right.

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

Apr 17

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis and Lookahead

The S&P 500 finished the week 3% higher and was the third up-week out of the last four. Equally impressive is Friday closed at the highest levels in six weeks. And not to be overlooked, this week’s spread between the lows and highs was the smallest in two months. As dire as the economic headlines have been, the stock market definitely seems to be coming to terms with our new reality.

Is a relatively modest 15% decline from all-time highs enough to account for the largest economic shock since the Great Depression? At this point, the stock market seems to think so. My Thursday post touched on some of the reasons the market finds itself at current levels, namely most investors believe the economy will bounce back relatively quickly. While this is part of the answer, there are also other supply and demand factors at play.

One of the bigger contributors to this limited selloff is the fact many investors have already lived through stock market crashes. Most of us were around to witness the 2008 Financial Crisis that cut stock prices in half. And the more recent example of 2018’s Christmas massacre that saw stocks tumble nearly 20% between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What was the biggest takeaway from both of these crashes? Stocks bounce back even higher. Reactive sellers were left behind when the indexes pushed to new highs without them. Regret is a powerful motivator and these investors were not going to make the same mistake twice. Fool me once, shame you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

At least for the time being, many would-be sellers learned to hold through volatile episodes and not succumb to the panicked feeling in their gut. Rather than impulsively sell stocks again, these investors are still hanging on. And so far discipline has been rewarded with prices dramatically above the March lows.

No matter what we think should happen, when confident owners don’t sell, prices don’t fall.  While we could see prices slip over the next week or two in a normal and healthy exhale, as long as the selling remains restrained and orderly, any dip is a buying opportunity, not an excuse to abandon ship. Short-term traders can exploit this weakness, but long-term investors should stick to their buy-and-hold plan.

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

Apr 09

Free End of Week Analysis and Lookahead

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free End of Week Analysis and Lookahead

The S&P 500 closed out another outstanding week, this time finishing 12% above last Friday’s close. As is usually the case, the best days (and weeks) occur in the middle of the worst times. As I often write, the market likes symmetry and it is no surprise this historic selloff contains an equally historic rebound.

As incredulous as people were two weeks ago when the index surged 20% and (technically) started the next bull market, thus far the new bull has been sticking. I’m most definitely not critical of the people who were skeptical of this sharp bounce because I was right there with them. Of course as is often the case in the market, the more people that think the same thing, the less likely it is to happen. There are a lot of structural and psychological reasons why this happens, but suffice to say, if an idea is too popular, the market is more likely to do the opposite of what most people expect. And that is exactly what we got this week.

Does this sharp bounce mean the selloff is over? No, of course not. Anyone who saw this morning’s weekly unemployment claims knows we are a long way from solving our economic problems. While social-distancing policies have done a lot to contain new infections, they are doing a number on our economy. So far the government has done a good job of reassuring markets by throwing truckloads of money at the problem, but it is safe to say any return to normalcy is still a long way in the future.

As is often the case, the market tends to overshoot during these crashes and the subsequent bounces. Last month’s crash went too far and it appears like this month’s rebound will end the same way. That said, it is easy to predict what the market will do next because it always does the same thing. The challenge isn’t predicting a near-term pullback, it is predicting when it will happen. And most important to us, getting the timing right is where all the money is made.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m still skeptical of this rebound and suspect the next pullback is just around the corner. That said, I’m prepared to be wrong again next week. What the market thinks is a lot more important than what I think. If it wants to keep going up, then there is only one way to trade it. That said, when the cracks start showing, be ready to get out of the way and even go short. If a person wants to know how I’m trading this, take a look at yesterday’s post.

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

Apr 03

What to expect next week

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead

It definitely felt like another rough week for the S&P 500 as the market retreated from last week’s rebound, especially Wednesday when the market shed 4.4% in a single session. That said, if you stand back and look at the weekly chart, it doesn’t seem so bad. For the week, we only gave back 2% of last week’s 10% rebound. I’d actually go so far as to call that resilience a win.

Stocks tumble from unsustainable levels quickly and the market had plenty of invitations to unleash bigger waves of defensive selling. Yet, most of the weak daily opens were met with buying, not follow-on selling. At least to this point, investors seem more interested in buying these discounts than selling them.

How much longer this can last is anyone’s guess, but the longer this goes, the more solid the ground is under our feet becomes. Calm and rational trade is almost always bullish and the longer we hold off another waterfall selloff, the better our prognosis becomes.

That said, the best case is falling into a trading range near the lows. Just because we don’t tumble doesn’t mean we are ready to race back to the highs. Expect prices to settle into a range between 2,300 and 2,600 for a while. As long as we remain inside that spread, everything is under control. Just make sure you remember this includes dipping back to 2,300. While everyone else is scared out of their minds, we will know better. (If the crowd didn’t think a dip was real, no one would sell and prices wouldn’t dip!) As long as we recognize what is going on, then we will be in a far better position to profit from it.

Chances are good the market tests 2,300 support next week and until further notice, we treat that as a dip-buying opportunity. That said, our greatest asset is our nimbleness. If prices tumble under the lows, we close our longs and go short. If prices bounce back, we close the short and go long. Moving proactively and keeping a nearby stop minimizes the cost of these whipsaws. More important is we ensure we are in the best possible position to profit from the next move no matter which direction it goes.

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

Mar 27

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Free Weekly Analysis and Lookahead

This was one of the most volatile weeks in S&P 500 history with the highs and lows spanning more than 20%. The moves were so dramatic in fact, the index actually started a new bull market after climbing 20% from Monday’s lows! (Also making this the shortest bear market in history.)

These are strange times. I was there for the dot-com bubble. 9/11. The housing crash and financial crisis. I even have memories of 1987’s Black Monday. But few things compare to the levels of uncertainty we are feeling today. 1987 blindsided market participants and few things are as shocking as watching 9/11 unfold in real-time. But neither of those events affected Mainstreet the way Coronavirus has completely and totally shut down the global economy. Everyone was numb after 9/11, but most people resumed their lives after a few days.

Not today. Governors are instructing, if not downright ordering, citizens to stay in their homes for at least two weeks. And that is just the start. No one knows how much further this could go. Stocks rallied this week after Congress approved a $2 trillion dollar stimulus package and the Fed assured us they have “unlimited ammunition” to combat this economic slowdown. That was good enough to launch stock prices 20% above Monday’s lows. But can these things solve our problems? No…not even close.

This week’s rebound was more of a massive relief-rally and short-squeeze than a vote of confidence about our “new” outlook. While it was definitely nice to see the stock market string together a few positive days, our situation is not any better this Friday than it was last Friday. In fact, in many ways, they are worse now because this virus continues expanding at an exponential rate and this week’s shelter-in-place orders had a minimal impact on the growth curve.

As nice as it felt to see the market put together an impressive performance this week, we are far from out of the woods and should expect this historic volatility to stick around for a while. At the very least, expect prices to retest the lows over the next week or two. Maybe we find support at the prior lows. Maybe we don’t. Either way, hopefully, anyone who was savvy enough to buy this week’s rebound is also savvy enough to lock-in a big portion of those profits before they evaporate. Investors can buy these discounts for the long-haul, but traders need to be extremely nimble because today’s profits will turn into tomorrow’s losses if we allow ourselves to get greedy.

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

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