Feb 07

AM: Volatility continues

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:21 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:21 EST

AM Update

The S&P500 fell under 1500 this morning, but has since found support.  While nerve-wracking  this volatility is building support for the continuation.  AAPL is finding strength, but I remain suspicious and would be a seller if the stock breaks into the gap.  NFLX is holding its own and FB is at an interesting place.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Volatility continues as stocks dipped under 1500, but the market found a floor in late morning trade and is back above this key level.

MARKET SENTIMENT

This sideways churn is changing the ownership base as nervous holders are selling to confident ones.  Is this smart money selling to dumb money, or the other way around?  Only time can tell for sure.

Maybe this is just selective hearing, but it sure seems like the only opinion I regularly hear  is “everyone is too bullish”.  I’m sure there are a lot of bulls are out there, but the cynics seem even more numerous, or at the very least more vocal.  But I could be mistaken too.  We tend to notice things more once we are a member of a certain group.  For example when a person buys a car, suddenly they notice that same model all over the place.  When we take a bearish or bullish position, we have to be careful we don’t selectively filter our view of the world to confirm this bias.  A bull often sees nothing but bearishness and a bear sees nothing but bullishness.

It seems the widely held belief is dumb money is long this market and smart money is waiting for the pullback.  Through the lens of supply and demand, smart and dumb lose their meaning and the only thing that matters is size of each constituent.  Professional money managers are typically labeled smart money, but they are also the largest players.  I’m far more nervous when all the smart money is doing the same thing because they hold all the chips.  If this rally continues and “smart” money is forced to chase, it will lead to a fairly spectacular, and profitable, rally.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
The market is retesting support at 1500.  Another bounce here will make the market even stronger because each dip flushes out weak hands.  While it has been a wild ride, the last few weeks have been constructive and suggest a sustainable continuation.  If the market holds 1500, today’s dip is buyable.

Alternate Outcome:
The market could be on the verge of running out of dumb money and this entire thing is about to collapse.  Obviously I don’t buy into this widespread view, but I also recognize I can be wrong and that is why we always trade with defense in mind.  1500 is clearly the line in the sand and any dip under it will cause me to reevaluate my bullish thesis.  Without a doubt this market will pullback, it is simply a matter of when.  This constructive price-action combined with the widespread cynicism  is telling me this is not that time.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL continues the whipsaw between $465 and $455.  In my mind this is the exact opposite trade we are seeing in the S&P500.  The indexes are consolidating for a continuation higher and  AAPL is consolidating for a continuation lower.  This sideways trade is calming nervous holders and giving them hope they will get some of their money back.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see AAPL jump back into the $465-$485 gap, but any strength should be sold.

FB daily at 1:21 EST

FB daily at 1:21 EST

NFLX made a fresh high this morning, but gave it up and is trading back under yesterday’s close.  The stock found support at $178 by mid-morning and buyers are willing to step in here.  It will be a wild ride, but the stock still wants to go higher.

FB is finding support at the 50dma, a high-volume bounce off this level would be an interesting entry.  Most of the bullishness from the IPO has worn off and the stock is up over 50% from recent lows.  I’m not sold on the long-term prospects for FB, but it makes an interesting trade if it finds support here.  Wait for the bounce confirming support and don’t jump in early because this could just as easily fall through a trapdoor.

Stay safe

Feb 06

PM: Holding near recent highs

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

The S&P500 continues holding 1500 and the uptrend remains intact.  AAPL is whipping traders around, NFLX is crushing shorts, and AMZN looks interesting.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks rebounded from early weakness and ended the day flat.  Volume was lower than Tuesday but still achieved respectable levels.  This was the 10th day the market traded at or above 1500 and it is creating solid, albeit volatile support around this level.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Bears and swing-traders tried to break this market after Tuesday’s strong rebound, but selling never picked up speed and the market finished where it started.  Bears inability to tempt holders into selling bodes well for a continuation.  Every attempted pullback shakes out weaker hands and this churn is what builds a foundation for the next move higher.

As much as people believe markets respond to fundamentals and technicals, prices only move because of actual buying and selling, also referred to as supply and demand.  Bears and bulls can talk until they are blue in the face, but it isn’t going to make a difference.  Only traders actually buying and selling move the market.  No matter how dire the headlines or substantial the bear’s case is, these last few selloffs failed to bring new supply to market, meaning current owners are fairly confident in their positions.  If current holders cannot be spooked out of the market, supply will tighten and prices head higher.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
The ceiling at 1515 is the next hurdle for the market.  The market bumped its head on this level the last four days and no doubt bears have positioned their stop-losses just above this level.  If we break through, expect a short-squeeze to propel stocks higher.

The near-term trend is clearly higher and support at 1500 indicates the high-probability trade remains to the upside.  The bigger question is how much further this can go.  1525 is easily within reach.  1550 is also on the table.  We will be pushing toward all time highs as we move up to 1575.

Maybe we will hit resistance at 1550 and experience a brief pullback before making an assault on all time highs, I can’t really say.  We will take this one-day at a time and adjust our expectations with each new data point.  Going forward from here, sideways trade is supportive of a sustainable rally.  If the rate of gains picks up, look for a blow off top before pulling back.

Alternate Outcome:
Bears calling for a pullback will eventually be right and most likely it will happen when we least expect it.  Most often this is long after people have given up calling for a pullback and the last of the bears concede defeat and jump on the rally bandwagon.  But ironically the last bears buying signals exhaustion and the market rolls over.  While this is most often how things play out, we could also see fear of this market dry up supply in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When too many traders are afraid of a pullback, they stop buying, and that triggers the pullback.

The big difference between those two scenarios is how deep and long the resulting pullback is.  A blow off top leads to a sharper, deeper, and longer pullback.  Buyers shying away from the market creates a modest dip that bounces back in days.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL had another roller coaster day.  Rumors of a dividend/buyback sent the stock up to $465, but it couldn’t hold those gains and closed down fractionally and the recent trading range of $435 to $465 remains intact.  The market will breakout one of these days, but in the meantime the best trade remains selling strength and buying weakness.  Anyone unwilling to sell their AAPL shares should consider selling options and take advantage of elevated premiums due to recent volatility.  Sell covered calls at the upper end of the range and puts at the lower end.  There is a lot of risk when selling options so this is best suited for experienced traders.

NFLX daily at end of day

NFLX daily at end of day

NFLX popped above recent resistance and added to its monster move, up 80% in just a few weeks.  Anyone lucky enough to be in this should consider taking some profits off the table.  The bigger concern is for anyone reckless enough to short this stock.  Momentum is clearly to the upside and while the stock could crash any moment, it could also jump above $200 tomorrow.  Someone not in this stock should resist the temptation to chase and instead wait for more stable support to form.  While this could continue higher, it could also come back $30 in the blink of an eye.

AMZN traded lower on light volume, but it is still above the 50dma.  Look for support and buy the bounce off the moving average.  The stock is getting extended, so don’t get greedy and take profits early and often.  For the bears, this stock’s day is coming, just not yet.  Remember early is the same thing as wrong, so wait for the right entry.

Stay safe

Feb 06

AM: Modest selling

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:21 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:21 EST

AM Update

The S&P500 is trying to recover from early weakness, but selling is modest given the size of yesterday’s rebound.  AAPL popped, but is struggling to hold those gains.  NFLX is humiliating bears again AMZN is finding support.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks started weak, but bounced back by late morning.  Earlier in the up-trend the market opened weak and finished strong.  We will watch afternoon trade to see if this pattern is making a comeback.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Bull markets often experience early weakness followed by strength.  Many participants are still suspicious of the rally and sell new highs in anticipation of the “inevitable” pullback.  This view is widespread enough that it gains some initial momentum, but selling tapers off because most cynics are already out of the market. Once supply dries up, prices rebound and make new highs.  This pattern repeats until most cynics have given up and jumped on the bull bandwagon.

This pattern is not exclusive to intraday periods and is seen across days and weeks too.  All through January early weakness was overcome and the market strung together countless up-days, but more recently the market closed on the day’s lows only to see it snap-back the next day.

This market will eventually top because every market does, the challenge is figuring out when.  Markets rally on the back of pessimism and as long as cynics are holding out, look for the rally to continue.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Most traders should take their money and run from this volatile market because it is too easy to buy high and sell low when the market is whipping around.  There is upside left, but it is really hard to tell the difference between a bear-trap and a real breakdown.  This market will be buyable if we see more sideways trade around 1500 or a retest of recent support at 1475.  This is the refresh the market needs to continue sustainably.  Without this, be suspicious of any strong advance.

If someone has to trade this market, go against the crowd by selling strength and buying weakness.

Alternate Outcome:
It is hard to escape the opinions of people who don’t believe in this rally.  They quote all kinds of fundamental information and while their logic is sound, the market is not worried about it.  There are two possible explanations, one is the market already discounted those risks and it is included in the price.  The other is the market is choosing to ignore it and that can last for only so long.  I’m firmly in the bull camp, but I don’t intend on going down with the ship if this market starts sinking.  Finding support at 1470 is healthy, breaking this level means I need to reevaluate my bullish thesis.

AAPL daily at 1:22 EST

AAPL daily at 1:22 EST

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL surged $14 over a few minutes this morning, but the rally ran into a wall at $465 and is drifting lower.  This is a trading stock now and most moves should be met with suspicion.  An interesting trade for an AAPL owner at $465 would have been selling the Feb 15 $470 call for $5.  As I’ve shared, I’m not in AAPL, but for those who cannot bring themselves to sell, covered calls and selling puts could be one way to squeeze some money out of a stock stuck in a trading range.  Obligatory warning: selling options is dangerous and make sure you understand the risks before trying this.

NFLX is up another 5% as more bears are getting skinned.  The stock broke above recent resistance near $175 and the ironic thing is bears are the ones pushing this stock higher with their short covering.  Bears might eventually be proven right in this stock, but we must remember early is the same thing as wrong.

AMZN has some volatility following earnings, but it is finding support at the 50dma.  A high-volume bounce off of this moving average can be bought for a shot trade, but watch out if the market lets this stock dip under this key level and technical support at $260.

Stay safe

Feb 05

PM: Bears cannot dent this rally

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

The market had every excuse to collapse in an avalanche of selling, but it bounced back instead.  The trend is clearly higher.  AAPL could break into the gap on broad market strength, but don’t fall for that bull trap.  NFLX’s gains might not be sustainable over the long-term, but look for the stock to continue chewing up bears.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks bounced back and recovered virtually all of Monday’s losses.  Volume was above average and higher than yesterday’s selloff.  After a month of mostly steady and calm trade, the market has given us dramatic back-to-back-to-back reversals.  The market is still finding support at 1500 and the uptrend remains intact.  When in doubt, stick with the trend and that has been the right trade so far.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market steamrolled bears that  jumped on the short bandwagon during Monday’s selloff in another example of the easy trade being the wrong trade.  A lot of people are rooting for this market to pullback, even collapse, but ironically they are the ones holding it up.  Bears and reluctant buyers create the demand needed to keep pushing prices higher.  As long as people don’t believe this rally, it will have an ample supply of buyers ready to chase or cover short positions.

Often people mistakenly think the contrarian trade is going against the trend, but it is really going against the crowd.  This is a small but important distinction because often they are different things.  Consensus is this market is overbought and prime for a selloff, meaning the contrarian trade is betting on a continuation, and that has been the smart position to date.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome::
Bears gave it everything they had on Monday, but they couldn’t trigger wider selling.  Holders had every excuse to sell as the market broke under recent highs on a volatile down day, but bears were unable to shakeout many owners and supply dried up quickly.

The uptrend is clearly intact, the only question is for how much longer.  If we string together a couple more strong up days,  that will signal time to bailout and start looking for a shorting opportunity.  If the market calms down and consolidates in a sustainable way, look for a longer continuation.

Alternate Outcome:
This volatile trade could be the final gasps of the rally and we won’t see one last surge higher before buying dries up.  Watch support at 1500 and breaking this level over the next couple days will show bulls don’t have the support or follow-on buying to continue moving this market ahead.  A break of 1500 so soon after finding support will likely lead to a pullback to 1470 and possibly the 50dma.  How low a pullback goes largely depends on how quickly sentiment changes once the market starts selling off.  If the market stays stubbornly bullish, the dip will be deeper, but if panic follows any selling, look for a quick and sharp bounce.

NFLX daily at end of day

NFLX daily at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL followed the market’s lead and bounced back from yesterday’s weakness.  The stock is forming a trading range between $460 and $435.  If the broad market surges in coming days, look for AAPL to break into the gap, but this is be a selling opportunity, not a buying one.

NFLX is holding recent gains nicely and this pattern is more conducive to a continuation than a top.  This trade looks like 2011 all over again with shorts betting against the stock and getting killed for it.  We might not see a new $300 high out of this move, but don’t short this thing because the trend is clearly higher and any strength will turn into another powerful short-squeeze.

Stay safe

Feb 05

AM: Market finds support

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:06 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:06 EST

AM Update:

AAPL and the S&P500 are giving traders whiplash.  In both cases look for the trend to continue, but take profits early and often.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks bounced back from yesterday’s sharp selloff and the whipsaws are chewing up impulsive traders.  The market usually gets more volatile near turning points as power transfers from one side to the other, but look for one a final push higher before trading against the rally.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market is filled with regret after the last few days of volatile trade.  Anyone reacting to the market’s moves is having a bad time because breakouts and breakdowns are failing left and right.  Clearly the best trade is selling strength and buying weakness, but often that is the hardest trade to make.

Last week started with three out of four days in the red.  Many thought that was the obvious top they were waiting for and felt save safe going short.  Then Friday’s market blew out all the bears and seduced plenty of breakout buyers to jump on the bandwagon.  Yesterday’s pullback made those breakout buyers look foolish and this time the breakdown was for real because it broke recent support.  And here we are today with yet another whipsaw day back to the upside.  The lesson is don’t get in the way of this meat-grinder.  Trade proactively not reactively.  Take profits early and often because they are going to disappear in a matter of days or even hours.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
There is no reason to ride this roller coaster and if it is playing games with your emotions, step to the sidelines and wait for more stable trade.  The mistake many traders make is felling compelled to trade every market.  Most can make money, but they shoot themselves in the foot by sticking around too long and giving back all their profits.  For those ambitious enough to trade this market, when in doubt, stick with the trend.  We haven’t seen a blow-off top so continue going with the rally, but in this more volatile period sell strength and buy weakness.

Alternate Outcome:
While the market often exhibits patterns, there are no absolute rules in trading.  This volatile trade could be the top and we won’t see a final push higher.  Markets exhaust themselves when buying dries up.  Typically this happens on a final surge higher as the last of the shorts are runoff and momentum chasers buy in  but this is not the only reason buying dries up, especially with intermediate pullbacks.  The high probability trade remains to the upside, but cover your backside with stop-losses if the market fails to hold support and downside selling accelerates.

AAPL daily at 1:07 EST

AAPL daily at 1:07 EST

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is also jerking traders around as it regains $450 this morning.  The sharp directional trade has arrested itself and we should no longer fear a huge rebound or selloff in the near term.  The stock is consolidating around $450, but look for a drift lower to demoralize the remaining hopeful holders.  While it will start slowly, the selling will pick up as regret builds in the stock.  Only after it becomes the most hated stock on Wall Street will it finally be a safe buy.  But at the same time, the big gains in AAPL are behind it without a new revolutionary product or strategy shift.  AAPL is transitioning into the typical stagnant mega-cap trading range and we could see AAPL trade sideways between $450 and $550 over the next 10 years.

If buy-and-hold is dead in AAPL, look for other strategies, such as swing-trading and selling options to make money going forward.    If you want to buy more if the stock on dips, consider selling puts under recent lows when the stock dips.  If you have stock you don’t want to sell, try selling covered calls above recent highs when the stock goes up.  These are expert strategies so make sure you understand all the risks before trying them.

Stay safe

Feb 04

PM: Biggest selloff of the year

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

Biggest selloff of the year and AAPL is flirting with recent lows.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks had their biggest down day of the year, but volume was surprisingly absent for such a large move.  This shows this was the product of too little buying instead of widespread selling.  The last few weeks of gentle updrafts have spoiled investors and any losses catch people by surprise, but selling is part of any rally and a few red days here and there are not fatal.

MARKET SENTIMENT

There are two ways to look at today’s restrained selling volume.  One view says the selling was limited and will dry up soon.  The other is we need a high-volume flush to revitalize this market and today’s low-volume doesn’t qualify.  We are left deciding which scenario is more relevant to this market.

It largely comes down to how spooked traders were by this reversal from Friday’s breakout.  If complacency rules and most traders are holding on and waiting for the expected rebound, then more selling is in store.  But if the dip spooked weak hands out and brought in agressive bears, we could see selling exhaust itself quickly as another short-squeeze propels us higher.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Selling is part of every advance.  While we are not at a major top, some selling here is normal and healthy.  I don’t know if we are in the middle of a test of 1500, 1470, or 1450, but I would bet on a rebound, not a crash.  The best thing to do is let the market tell us what it wants to do.  Finding support by midday on Tuesday is suggestive of a quick bounce.  If selling  picks up as we fail to hold 1496 and technical stop-losses are triggered,  look for support near 1480 or 1470.  A high-volume dip and reversal would be ideal for a longer continuation but not necessary for a modest bounce.

Alternative Outcome:
Could this be the big top everyone’s fearing?  We have budget talks, deficit spending, money printing, high unemployment,  and a weak global economy.  It is possible, but unlikely one of these will crash this market.  Things that everyone is watching and talking about rarely become dangerous because there is so much awareness and time to solve the problem.  This is the exact reason Europe has been able to hang on for 3+ years.  But at the same time we cannot totally ignore the possibility if a black swan and that is why we trade with stop-losses.  Violating support at 1450 will invalidate the continuation thesis and we will reevaluate the market’s health if that happens.  Of course there is no reason a nimble swing-trader needs to wait for 1450 before getting out of the market.

AAPL at end of day

AAPL at end of day

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is trading just above $440 and a few dollars from the recent low of $435.  A lot of buy-the-dip traders put their stop-losses under $435, so expect selling to accelerate if the market breaks this key technical level.  Since everyone who is attracted to AAPL already owns it, I’m not sure how quickly AAPL will find support from new buyers if it triggers a larger wave of stop-loss selling.  The silver lining  is another wave of high-volume selling brings this stock one step closer to finding a bottom.  All the fearful and hopeful holders need to be driven off so AAPL can build a solid foundation of confident and steady holders that will not flinch in the face of further selling.  It is their steadiness that will finally allow AAPL to rebound.

Stay safe

Feb 04

AM: Bear trap?

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 2:21 EST

S&P500 daily at 2:21 EST

AM Update

Bears have the perfect opportunity to break the market here and if they fail, look for higher prices.  AAPL is going the wrong way as buyers fail to show up and prop the stock up.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks opened weak after Friday’s big bounce, giving back all of those gains.  Early weakness is not a surprise since many people still doubt the sustainability of these record highs.  What is important is how the market responds to this dip.  Finding support and bouncing back in afternoon or Tuesday’s trade will signal a continuation.  This selloff is the perfect slow-ball pitch for bears and if they can’t this this one out of the park, look for the rally to continue, but if selling accelerates, this is the start of a pullback and look for a retest of 1470

More often than not, these rallies surge into their top and we have not see that type of nonstop buying yet.  (see Saturday’s weekly review post for more on this)  Often the final stages of a rally are volatile and the market frequently bounces back from what most assume is the expected breakdown.  In situations like this, the best trade is buying weakness and selling strength, not jumping on the breakout/breakdown.

S&P500 weekly at end of week

S&P500 weekly at end of week

MARKET SENTIMENT

No one believes in this rally.  Even the most bullish expect a near-term pullback to digest recent gains, but markets are a function of supply and demand so we need to understand how these expectations affect the way people are positioned.

Chasing pushed this market to new highs, but these same holders are also very skittish and everyone is rushing for the exits on any weakness.  These mad dashes of selling are what refreshes a rally, clearing the way for new buying.

Today’s dip under 1500 is the selloff everyone’s been waiting for and they are selling into it, but the easy trade is rarely the right trade.  Once all the nervous are out and the aggressive short, selling will abate and that lack of further supply will send the market higher.  We need to fear markets where longs stubbornly hold on, not rush for the exit.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
If tops were easy to spot, every trader would be fabulously rich.  Following this logic, if most people get tops wrong, then we should be extremely suspicious when everyone, including bulls, are expecting a top.

To get ahead of this market we need to be proactive instead of reactive.  Sell strength and buy weakness.  Sell when you don’t want to sell and buy when you don’t want to buy.  As we are seeing today, Friday’s breakout was a great time to sell and it seems today’s weakness is an interesting time to consider buying.  We don’t need to rush in and buy on the way down, but look for convincing support over the next couple days that shows the selling has exhausted itself.  We are entering a more volatile period of the market cycle, but the trend is still intact.  And most importantly, don’t lets these intraday swings make you buy high and sell low.

Alternate Outcome:
Sometimes the crowd gets it right, especially when it comes to lack of demand.  If buyers fail to show up, prices will decline and that weakness could trigger a follow-on wave of stop-loss selling.  As I write these words, the market is breaking through 1500 and no doubt triggering some stop-loss selling with even more stops lined up under the recent lows of 1496.  The market can peak and rollover at any time, but more often than not it surges before rolling over and weekly charts show this market is not at that point yet.

There is no reason to trade the last stages of a move since it is often more volatile and harder to get right.  For many traders the smart move is taking their profits and waiting for the next high probability trade.  But for the aggressive, this recent weakness is interesting buying opportunity and I sure as heck wouldn’t be piling on the short bandwagon here.

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 12.21.11 PMINDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL failed to hold $450 and is testing $440.  Dipping under $435 and making a new low is clearly in the cards.  If anyone watching AAPL from the outside isn’t convinced of the value at $460, then it is highly unlikely they will come to the rescue at $425.   The question AAPL bulls need to answer is who is going to buy the stock and push prices higher?  The stock’s inability to bounce back from the post-earnings gap shows everyone who believes in this story already own all the AAPL they can hold.  Without new buyers, this thing will continue floundering.

Stay safe

 

Feb 02

WR: Don’t doubt this bull just yet

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

S&P500 weekly at end of week

S&P500 weekly at end of week

Weekly Review

Markets set another weekly closing high and are maintaining a moderate and sustainable pace of gains in spite of all the calls of overbought.   AAPL bulls are a stubborn bunch and the rebound will take even longer than I originally suspected.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks closed at a new weekly high and are up five-weeks in a row.  The winning streak’s duration and rate of gains is reasonable when compared to other rallies in recent history.  While it feels like a lot, it is not unusual to see markets string together consecutive up-weeks.  This also illustrates the advantage of looking at weekly charts because it eliminates most of the daily noise and more accurately reflects what the market is actually doing, in this case rallying smartly.

MARKET SENTIMENT

This market is attracting a chorus of enthusiastic and vocal bulls, but a fair number of cynics remain, saying these new highs cannot last.  These cynics are right, but anyone who says the market will pullback is right simply because the market always pulls back.  But as traders, undefined predictions are meaningless because successful trading has little to do with direction everything to do with timing.  You can get the overall direction wrong, but if you have impeccable timing, you can still make lots and lots of money, and no doubt most of us have been frustrated by making the exact right call, but lost money because we screwed up the timing.  Never forget, predictions are meaningless when it doesn’t include timing.

If we focus on the immediate market, the trend is clearly higher and we are not extended yet, so stick with the trend.  Looking back at the last couple years on a weekly chart we can see most intermediate highs occurred when an extended run had a larger up-week than at any point in the rally with the exception of the rally’s first week.  The last surge higher is when bears throw in the towel and sideline watchers can no longer resist the temptation to buy.  This crates one last surge higher and is typically larger than any previous weekly gain.  This large price gain on high volume is the classic capitulation reversal.  Our recent weekly chart does not show signs of this behavior, so the high-probability trade remains to the upside.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Stick with the trend and don’t try to pick a top because this rally has legs.  We will eventually see the surge higher and that will be the sign to short this market.  I have no idea if that surge will be this week or next month, all we can do is watch the market for clues and trade what the market gives us.  Boring trade is sustainable, big gains here are not.

Alternate Outcome:
While markets often surge into turning points, it is not written in stone and we could see the market run out of buyers at any time, especially if the market is caught off guard by an unexpected headline.  But as we saw with last week’s GDP report, this market is not all that vulnerable to negative headlines.  Recent support is at 1500 and breaking this level will force us to reevaluate the bullish thesis.

Investorplace.com poll

Investorplace.com poll

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

No matter how low AAPL goes, people still talk about what a great stock it is.  I heard a professional money manager say when AAPL broke his $470 stop-loss, not only did he keep holding, he added to his position at $450.  What is the point in having a stop-loss if you don’t use it?

I found this poll online that shows a lot of people think AAPL is still a Buy or Hold after falling over 35%.  There is far too much love for this stock for it to bottom and it could take a year or longer to demoralize all these hopeful owners.  Two-weeks ago I was an AAPL bull, but I quickly changed my mind when my initial thesis was proven invalid.  It is normal, even expected to be wrong in the markets, but it is fatal to stay wrong.

Stay safe

Feb 01

PM: What weakness?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

PM Update

The S&P500 defies gravity and AAPL’s unbelievable valuation becomes even more unbelievable.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The S&P500 responded decisively from recent weakness and threw everyone for a loop as it set another new high. Volume was slightly above average, but lower than recent days. This was the biggest up-day since the Fiscal Cliff pop, but 1% is hardly excessive.

MARKET SENTIMENT

While we need to be careful of a capitulation top, the lower volume shows the market has not sucked in the last the buyers yet. We are watching for a high-volume rally day because it signals the dam of reluctance has finally broken and the last surge of hesitant buyers is rushing in.

This market clearly wants to go higher and it will reveal how much higher in coming days. Successive up-days will signal the last rush of buyers before exhaustion, but if the market takes its time and exercises moderation, expect this to continue for a bit longer.

Everyone knows this rally is over-bought, but that is what keeps it moving higher. We need to keep a close eye on the level of cynicism remaining because it is the fuel that pushes us higher. Reluctant buyers become enthusiastic buyers the higher prices go.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Keep doing what is working; this market is defying all calls for a pullback and that will likely continue in coming days. While this market will eventually top and pullback, you cannot get in front of this. Shorts will get their chance, just not yet.

Buy-and-hold investors stick with your plan, but conservative swing-traders should look to lock in profits. Aggressive swing-traders can hold for more, but keep this trade on a short leash and move up your stops.

Alternate Outcome:
Next week will most likely set another new high and while we could be near a top, there is still plenty of cynicism to fuel a move even higher. If we see more basing and sideways trade next week, hold a little longer. Nothing is certain in the markets and one in hand is worth two in the bush, but you also cannot make money without taking some risks. We will learn a lot more about the mood of the market early next week and that will tell us how to trade this.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is giving longs heartburn as it turned back from $460 and retested $450. The failure to break $460 is noteworthy and violating $450 in coming days will most likely signal lower prices in the near-term. In my unscientific observations, it seems like there are still a lot of AAPL supporters and those people need to be chased off before the stock will find a bottom. The most loved stock on Wall Street will need to become the most hated before this thing will turn around.

Stay safe

Feb 01

AM: Market frustrates bears

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

AM Update

The S&P500 defies bears and rallies to new highs while AAPL continues to frustrate the buy-the-dip crowd.

MARKED BEHAVIOR

The S&P500 bounced off of 1500 and is making new highs again. The three-days of recent selling refreshed the market and it is ready to go again.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Anyone who jumped on the over-bought bandwagon and shorted recent weakness is having a bad day. Just another example of the market abusing counter-trend traders. When in doubt, stick with the trend because it goes longer and further than anyone expects.

This recent strength is winning over reluctant traders who are having a harder time resisting the temptation to buy this market. All the fears from a couple of months ago are long forgotten and while not surprising, it is amazing what a rallying market does to a trader’s view of the world. But the further this goes, the more careful we need to be. These things always end and with each passing day we are one day closer to that end.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
The market is defying all expectations and continuing higher. Fundamental and technical analysts are full of reasons this market needs to pullback, but that is the very reason it continues. Keep watching for the cynics to give up and that will be the we find the top, until then stick with trend. If anyone is foolish enough to short this market, take profits within a day or two because they won’t last much longer as yesterday’s shorts are finding out.

Alternate Outcome:
This market will top and it will top in the near future. Maybe that is next week, or maybe next month, but it is out there. We found out this week headlines cannot dent this market so we need to watch for a depleted supply of buyers. As long as traders keep shorting this market, they are creating new demand when they are forced to cover. When the shorts finally give up, that demand will taper off and most likely the market pullback will follow.

We have come a long way and holding out for that last couple percent is getting greedy. No one sells at the top, so either we sell early or we sell late. I’ve never heard of a highly successful investor who sells late and in fact most claim the secret of their success is selling too early. Maybe they know something we can learn from. Maybe this market will top at 1525 or 1550, but for anyone in since 1400 would be foolish to risk those gains for an extra 20 points that might or might not happen.

But it all depends on your trading strategy. Swing-traders should take profits, and long-term traders keep holding and wait for higher prices this summer or next year. Aggressive short-term traders can continue squeezing out the last few drops of this rally, but stay on the long-side until we get a more clear signals this market is topping.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is having another bad day and retesting $450. The sharp rebound so many were hoping for is dead and once those swing-traders throw in the towel, their selling will put more pressure on the stock. Now that the oversold bounce isn’t happening, who is going to buy AAPL if all the people who believe in the company and stock already own it?

The stock very well might be trading near the bottom of the selloff, but that doesn’t make it a good to stock to own if it will take a while to recover. I’d rather take that money and put it to work. Only when AAPL livens up buy back in. No reason to hold on to dead money. But that is just my approach to trading and each person needs to follow their plan.

Stay safe