Feb 18

LA: What to look for

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

S&P500 weekly at end of week

S&P500 weekly at end of week

Look Ahead

How far can this streak of up weeks continue and where is the incremental AAPL buyer going to come from?

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks were up for the seventh consecutive week.  Over the last few years this is as long as any streak lasted and we should expect a red-week simply based on historical precedent.  While I’m sure there are many times over the last 100-years where the market strung together a larger number of winning weeks, trading is a game of probabilities and we need to trade what is most likely, not what is possible.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The recent rally and absence of volatility is making the market feel safe, something we need to fear.  I’m not promoting a crash, simply a red-week or two to keep traders on their toes.  How people respond to the dip will tell us how far it will go.  If the prevailing attitude is complacency and buy-the-dip, look for a deeper pullback.  If everyone starts yelling fire and rushing for the exits, look for another quick rebound.

The rule of thumb is trade the opposite of what most expect.  The sharp pullbacks to 1,500 two-weeks ago got traders attention and excited bears.  This was finally the pullback everyone was waiting for, but the market rebounded and is now 20-points higher.  That episode ago humiliated bears and sellers who jumped on the pullback bandwagon only to watch the market pop higher.  Now this group of potential sellers is less likely to pile on board a similar dip in the future.

This matters because nervous sellers and shorts have a limited war-chest and run out of ammunition quickly if bigger money doesn’t join the selling.  That is exactly what happened two-weeks ago.  But what happens if the nervous sellers are already out of the market and bears are reluctant to re-short the market?  That means the next dip isn’t manufactured selling, but real selling.  This is the fundamental difference between a buying-the-dip opportunity and a real market reversal.  If you know who is selling, you have a better chance of accurately anticipating the move.

The above scenario describes the way these things normally play out.  I’m not exactly sure where we are in this process and that is why we need to keep looking for clues from the market’s behavior.  The trend remains higher, but we need to be increasingly cautious with each passing day.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Look for a small red week this week or next simply because history says this is about as far as these things normally go.  This could be a small pullback, or the start of something bigger.  We need to keep a close eye on how the market and sentiment responds to any weakness, looking for clues on where this market is headed.

Alternate Outcome:
While seven up-weeks is a lot, it is not impossible for us to string together several more.  The momentum is clearly higher and reluctant buyers are finally starting to wade in.  Their buying will keep propping up the market until they run out of money and that will be when the market finally noses over.  Running out of buyers, not complacency is what finally causes a market to top.

The outcome I am most hoping for is a strong push higher because that is unsustainable, will clearly signal an intermediate top, and be an attractive place to short the market.  This grinding higher stuff is far harder to predict and time.

AAPL weekly at end of week

AAPL weekly at end of week

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is struggling again and the last few weeks of buying sucked in many of the bottom-pickers.  The question any AAPL bull has to answer is who is the next buyer that will keep the rebound going?  Markets are driven by supply and demand, so where is this new demand going to come from if all the AAPL bulls already own the stock?

My opinion is there is still too much hope and optimism left in the stock to stage a quick recovery.  The most likely scenario is the most loved stock will need to become the most hated stock before selling and hope finally exhaust themselves and the stock can bottom.  The other red flag is any weakness felt by the broad market will be exacerbated in AAPL shares.

Stay safe

Feb 17

WR: Amnesia

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

S&P500 weekly at end of week

S&P500 weekly at end of week

Weekly Review

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks closed flat for the week, up less than 2-points.  The range was tight, 0.7%, with a low of 1514 and high of 1525; both of these levels representing near-term support and resistance.

Exchange volume was right around average, but since it was option expiration week, volume was actually a little light.  The slow trade allowed the 10-week moving average to catch up and it is now just 48-points under the market and the slower moving 50-week moving average is trailing by 110 points.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Holders have not been interested in selling this market.  We’ve seen multiple dips to support, but nothing achieves critical mass and inevitably rebounds quickly.  If there was one trade that worked well with the indexes the last couple months, it’s buying anything, dips or not.  A few weeks ago traders were afraid of this too-far, too-fast market, but now that every sale, stop-loss, and short has been a mistake, cynics are finally coming around.  But the thing to be careful of is this shift in sentiment is what causes an intermediate market top; after everyone buys, demand dries up, and stocks dip.

There were tons of reasons not to buy this market a few weeks ago, but a relentless series of new highs is giving traders amnesia.  Everyone isn’t sold on this market yet, but they are coming over in larger numbers with each passing day.  How much longer this can keep up is the big question.

I don’t expect the market to collapse because there are still too many cynics remaining, but there is no more effective persuader than seeing everyone else make money.  This means there are two ways we can move ahead.  One is directly and the other is after a nerve rattling dip.  Straight up will suck in the last of the fence-sitters and exhaust demand in one final push higher.  Typically this happens on the largest weekly gains we’ve seen since the early days of the rally.  This would be the quickest route to a material pullback.

The slower, but more sustainable trade would be dipping dramatically to flush out some of this new-found complacency.  To continue sustainably the market needs to shake out recent buyers and tempt aggressive bears to short the market.  Once this limited selling runs its course, look for the market to find support and resume its rally.  A mid-rally dip like this could last a couple of weeks before resuming higher, but expect it to feel like the real selloff because that sense of panic is what will refresh the rally.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Look for near-term weakness from a sustainable rally or a strong push higher out of a topping pattern.  We are half way through the first quarter, meaning there are at most six-weeks left in this move, and possibly less.  The conservative trade is taking profits and the aggressive trade is squeezing out a little more.  If you like sleeping at night sell some stocks, if you enjoy the thrill of the chase, tighten up your stops and get ready to hang on.

The advantage of selling into strength is you don’t have to guess if a dip is just a dip or the start of a real selloff.  Chances are weakness next week will be another buying opportunity, but there are no guarantees and the aggressive trader will have to decide wither or not to sell.

Alternate Outcome:
The market is not always predictable and a strong break higher could be a buying opportunity, but that is a low probability trade and one I’ll just have to sit out.  I don’t need to make all the money, just the easy stuff.

AAPL weekly at end of week

AAPL weekly at end of week

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL finally had a down-week after two-weekly gains following the post-earnings plunge.  Was this two-week rebound the dead-cat bounce or is this week’s weakness just a dip on the way higher?  The stock ran into psychological resistance at $485 and is currently retesting support at $460.  A dip under $460 would trigger more stop-loss and short-selling, pushing the stock back down to recent lows of $430.  To resurrect this stock from the dead, it will need to regain and hold $500, but in the near-term the stock will make for a far better swing-trade than buy-and-hold investment.  Buy the dips and sell the rallies and the stock swings between extremes of hope and despair.

Stay safe

Feb 15

PM: Complacency creeping in

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 finished the week nearly where it started and volatility dropped off dramatically.  AAPL is testing support at $460 and AMZN is trying to find a direction.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks traded flat again with support near 1515 and resistance at 1525.  This was the fourth-day within this 10-point range  as volatility virtually disappeared   Obviously this cannot last and it will be interesting to see if the rally uses this quiet period to launch another move higher, or a plunge lower to shakeout complacent and greedy holders.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The market is stuck in this tight range because 1) no one is buying and 2) no one is selling.  Obviously this is only figurative because we had 37 million shares change hands on an options expiration Friday, but for every seller there was an equally willing buyer.

It will be interesting to see how the market trades next week since many trader’s put protection expired today.  This could make it easier to shake these previously steady holders out of their position and would add to down-side volatility next week.  But this factor might be mitigated by the increasing complacency and greed felt by current holders.  Every dip since November has been a buying opportunity and anyone shaken out in a bout of weakness was made to regret that emotional impulse as the market bounce back not long after.  This shame over selling prematurely makes traders less likely to sell the next dip and explains a lot of the recent reluctance for holders to sell dips.

Obviously complacency and greed is a key component of a market top, but they do not lead to a top immediately. A prevailing sense of complacency and greed brings in the last of the reluctant buyers and that forms the top of the market.  Even though we are getting complacent here, there are still reluctant traders left to push the market higher.  Their final buying will likely trigger that last surge higher before the market corrects.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
While we are still looking for one last push higher, we might see another dramatic selloff along the way.  The market hates being easy and right now it is pretty darn easy to buy-and-hold.  I have little doubt some heart racing volatility is around the corner, but it won’t get too carried away, maybe a precipitous drop to 1505 before bouncing back.  Tops usually get more volatile as the battle between the bears and bulls evens out and the market’s indecision intensifies.  For those with a weak stomach, it would be far easier to sell into some strength and wait for the next buying opportunity.

Alternate Outcome:
The market could plunge, takeoff, or stay flat next week.  If this predicting stuff were easy we would all be rich right now.  We evaluate the situation, make our best guess, place our bets, and then wait for confirmation or invalidation, and that is what we need to do here.  There is no reason to trade this late in the market rally and often holding out for the last few dollars causes people to give back all their earlier profits.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL dipped to $460.  While not a long-term support level, it has been a key level since earnings last month, initially providing overhead resistance and now acting as support.  There are many people trading this same level, so a dip under could trigger a wave of stop-losses and short selling, intensifying pressure on the stock.  If the stock bounces here and breaks above $485, that would qualify as making higher-highs and higher-lows, which would be extremely bullish.  Unfortunately sentiment wise there is still too much optimism and hope in the stock to have realistically put in a long-term bottom.

LNKD and NFLX continue inching higher on the backs of pessimists.  Short these at your own peril.

AMZN pulled back to the 50dma but found support for the time being.  A lot of traders are watching this level and look for a move in either direction to pick up speed as swing-traders jump on whichever bandwagon shows up first.

Stay safe

Feb 15

AM: Another day of quiet trade

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at 1:15 EST

AM Update

Stocks are holding recent levels in quiet trade.  AAPL is holding support at $460, but technicals still indicate a downtrend.  AMZN is building a trade around its 50dma, we just have to wait and see what that trade is.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks were up in early trade, but hit their head on 1525 and are down midday.  1525 seems to be resistance and 1515 support.  We will watch to see which of these levels gets taken out first but I wouldn’t buy/sell a break through either level because the probabilities of a head fake are high and these are minor technical levels.

MARKET SENTIMENT

The low volatility drift higher continues.  While the market is bouncing up and down, it is doing so within fractions of a percent and more likely the result of random noise than meaningful trade.  What we know for sure is the market continues creeping higher through these gyrations and the trend remains intact.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
While this market is closer to topping, don’t try to short it here because the rally is still alive and has some upside left.  On the other side, longs need to start building a plan to lock in profits.  I find it easier to sell into strength, but trailing stops work too.  If you are sitting out of this market, it is a bit late for anything other than quick day trades.  The market could rally sharply from here, but that will be the end of the run, not the start of the next leg.  If the market consolidates and/or pulls back slightly, that will refresh the market and make a good entry point, but if it races ahead, resist the temptation to chase.

Alternate Outcome:
If the expected outcome is caution, the alternative trade is reckless abandon.  While a several percent move higher seems likely and could be profitable if timed exactly right, it will be part of a topping pattern and not the start of a new leg higher.  If someone needs to trade this market, stay nimble.  The more comfortable people become with this market, the more nervous we should be.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AMZN daily at 1:15 EST

AMZN daily at 1:15 EST

AAPL is down, but still holding above $460.  Volume tapered off the last couple days as both buyers and sellers are taking a break.  Technicals show the downtrend remains intact as the stock continues making lower-lows, and lower-highs and is solidly underneath the 50dma.  Without a doubt this stock will rebound at some point, but when in doubt stick with the trend.  As for a trade, sell a break under $460 and buy a pop above $485.

AMZN is dipping but still has a several dollar cushion above the 50dma.  If someone bought the break above the 50dma, they still have some breathing room, but get out if the stock cannot hold the 50dma.  Holding the 50dma is obviously bullish, but a break under the 50dma could be shorted, but only for a couple of days because it is likely to bounce.  Failing to hold the 50dma for a third time setup a longer short trade.

Stay safe

Feb 14

PM: Another new closing high

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks opened at 1514 and rallied through the day, finishing above 1520.  While we missed a new intra-day high, it did notch a new closing high as the slow grind higher continues.

MARKET SENTIMENT

As the market inches higher, the calls for a pullback get quieter by the day.  I don’t think everyone is sold on this market, but the cynics are not nearly as vocal after getting their nose relentlessly bloodied day after day.  This is all part of the normal progression through the life-cycle of a market move.  With each passing day bears and cynics are throwing in the towel and joining the rally bandwagon.  Their buying is the fuel that is propping up this market, but once the last have changed sides, demand will dry up and the market will finally nose over.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
While there are no clear signals to sell yet, we need to be increasingly vigilant.  This market will top in coming weeks and we need to be ready for it.  It might happen as early as next week or it could drag on through the end of the first quarter, but either way the writing is on the walls .  Look for the inability to hold support or the biggest weekly price gains since this rally began.  Those will be the signs to get out.

Fund managers are judged by their quarterly performance and the longer the rally goes, the less time managers have to catch the market before the end of the first quarter.  A pullback will be a huge relief for many professional money managers, but will most likely be the reason it won’t happen.  Managers behind the eight ball are buying every dip in an effort to catch this market, but if you get too many people buying dips, there are no dips to buy.  That behavior explains why the move higher has been so smooth.

Alternate Outcome:

Clearly there is no rule that say rallies can only last 12 to 16 weeks and obviously there are countless examples over the last 100 years that lasted a lot longer.  But trading is a game of probabilities and we need to trade the most likely outcome.  It is entirely possible this rally goes for a couple more months, but the odds are against it.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is finding support in the lows $460s.  Holding here and using $460 as a stop is a reasonable way to trade the rebound.  But if the market breaks $460, look for a wave of stop-loss selling from a lot of other like-minded traders.  I’m still suspicious of this stock because supply and demand is stacked against it.  If everyone thinks this is a great value and already own the stock, where are the new buyers going to come from?

Stay safe

Feb 14

AM: Cautious optimism

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:22 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:22 EST

AM Update

S&P500 bounces off of support at 1515 and AAPL is finding buyers in the $460 range.  AMZN, NFLX, and LNKD continue proving the cynics wrong as they keep gaining.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market opened lower, but rallied off of 1514, again finding support near the 1515 level.  What was resistance a couple of weeks ago is providing support here.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Josh commented a couple posts ago that while exchange volume returned on Tuesday, trading volume on the SPY remains suspiciously light.  This is a really interesting observation and it might give us further insight into this market.  The SPY is a trading vehicle for speculation and hedging, not investing.  This can be seen by the SPY’s ridiculously high turnover rate of just 5 days.  Following volume on the SPY provides great insight into what traders are doing, separate from longer-viewed investors.

One possible explanation for the low volume on SPY is traders are afraid to buy this market and just as fearful of shorting it.  Since short squeezes have been a big part of what pushed this market higher, we might not have that same bid above the market going forward.  If that is the case, this market will need to draw in new buyers to keep moving higher.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Without a doubt the market is approaching the end of its run and an intermediate top is weeks and a handful of points away.  The safer this market feels with its steady climb higher, the more nervous it makes me.  I’m not ready to give up yet, but I am less confident and more paranoid than I was a couple of weeks ago.  One of the hardest part of trading is knowing when to take a winner.  We should be giving that more thought here than what positions to add.

Alternate Outcome:
If the expected trade is promoting caution, then the alternate is going all in.  Markets often move further and longer than most expect and undoubtedly this one has already don that, jumping over 120 points in less than two months. But are we seeing skepticism grow or fade the higher this thing goes?  I’m still waiting for that large weekly price gain, but am actively looking for an exit.  It is always better to be out of the market wishing you were in, than in the market wishing you were out.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is finding support at $460 and trying to regain upward momentum after two days of selling.  $460 is a good line in the sand to use as a stop-loss for a long trade, but if this is an obvious stop-loss, other traders will use it and the stock could trigger another wave of selling if it dips to under it.

LNKD daily at 1:22 EST

LNKD daily at 1:22 EST

After some early weakness, AMZN is fining buyers willing to support the break above the 50dma and recent gains.  This stock is not done humiliating bears and get in its way at your own peril.

LNKD and NFLX continue dining on fresh bear meat as they push to new breakout highs.  Remember, the contrarian trade isn’t going against the price, it is going against the crowd.  If the crowd thinks these are ridiculously overpriced stocks and bound to crash, then the contrarian trade is betting on the continuation.

Stay safe

Feb 13

PM: Is this too easy?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

S&P500 daily at end of day

S&P500 daily at end of day

PM Update

New highs in an otherwise quiet day.   AAPL continues struggling for direction and high-fliers keep humiliating bears.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks traded up to 1525, fell to 1515, and finished the day back at 1520.   1525 set another new high and 1515 held recent support.

MARKET SENTIMENT

While we set another new high, don’t let the dull trade lull us into complacency.  The trend remains higher, but we could see near-term weakness test our resolve.  A pullback to 1505 should be expected and we need to plan on how we will respond.  Proactive traders could lock-in profits on the way up and look to buy after the market finds support.  Traders who like to sit through a little volatility can continue holding, but they have the harder task of  recognizing the difference between healthy pullbacks and topping.  And lastly, buy-and-hold should keep holding because that is what they do.  Of course even buy-and-hold investors benefit from shorter timeframe analysis because it helps them mentally prepare for the emotional dips that could tempt them into selling at the exact wrong time.

At most this rally has six-weeks left in it and we need to come up with an exit plan for taking profits.  So far we’ve resisted the temptation to get shaken out between too-high, too-fast and the volatile dips last week, but it will all be for naught if we stick around too long.  The November bottom was twelve-weeks ago and we have been above the 50dma for six-weeks.  While I’m still waiting for the high volume price gains, I am becoming increasingly suspicious of this market and inching closer to the door.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Stick with what is working, but start working on an exit plan.  We’re in this to make money, not own stocks, and we can only do that by selling and taking profits.  My preference is to sell early because it prepares me mentally to buy the next dip.  Holding past the top is always a head game because there is regret at not selling sooner and hope that prices will bounce back.  All of this clouds judgement and prevents a trader from identifying the next great trade.

Alternate Outcome:
Technically this rally could last forever, but practically speaking three to four months is the most these things go before they run out of new buyers and have a material selloff that refreshes the larger bull rally.  We’ve seen countless selloffs of 100-200 points over the last four-years and this year will be no different.  While the trade is obvious, getting the timing right is where all the money is made.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

Much like the market, AAPL rallied, sold off, and finished near flat.  Inability to break above $485 is noteworthy and while most are treating this as a fundamental and event-driven story, it really is still a supply and demand trade.  As long as everyone is promoting the attractive valuation, it means the hopeful have not been flushed out yet.  Why this matters is everyone who likes AAPL already owns it, meaning there are few new buyers left.  If someone isn’t interested at an obscene valuation, they probably won’t be impressed with a doubly-obscene valuation either.

AMZN daily at end of day

AMZN daily at end of day

AMZN popped today and the cynics were out in force.  That explains why the stock finished at the top of the day’s range.  AMZN is AAPL’s mirror twin.  Everyone loves AAPL and it keeps going lower while everyone hates AMZN and it keeps going higher.  This is totally irrational behavior if you look at it from a fundamental and valuation basis, but bring supply and demand into the picture and now it makes total sense.  AMZN isn’t done humiliating bears and look for the rally to continue.

NFLX and LNKD also rallied through the day and these stocks are trading like they want to go higher.  It will be a wild ride, but $200 is easily within reach for NFLX.  After it hits that milestone we will reevaluate sentiment and see if attitudes in the stock have changed.  $180 is in the cards for LNKD.  If there is one takeaway from these posts, please don’t short explosive stocks.  That is a great way to go broke.  These might or might not be a good buy, but they are definitely not a short.  But some people prefer to learn their lessons the hard way.

FOSL’s strength faded and it is retesting support.  Keep this one on a really short leash and any further weakness means institutional money is not supporting this stock.  Don’t go down with the ship if it cannot hold support.

Stay safe

 

Feb 13

AM: More constructive trade

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

AM Update

The S&P500 continues finding support near recent highs.  AAPL is struggling for direction.  AMZN popped above the 50dma plus a few other individual stock stories below.

S&P500 daily at 1:18 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:18 EST

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks gaped up at the open, sold off to break-even by midday, and are attempting a rebound as I write this.  Nothing new or insightful from this price-action and the previous analysis and expectations of a continuation remain intact.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Any selling widely viewed as the start of an expected pullback will not turn into said pullback.  This rally will top, but it will happen when everyone is convinced it is another buy-the-dip opportunity, and we are not there yet.

So far this Q1 is a carbon copy of last year’s Q1.  Last year’s rally kept going and going until everyone gave up fighting it and that is when it finally nosed over.  People will point to some fundamental story that broke last year’s market, but the truth is fundamentals can only break the market when it is already setup to fall.  We have all witnessed when markets reacted counterintuitively to a major story and that is because the underlying supply and demand was setup for a different direction.  When fundamentals and supply and demand disagree, always go with supply and demand.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Some weakness is normal and healthy.  Anyone rushing for the exits or piling on the shorts because the market dipped a few points is going to have a bad time.  Markets top on complacency, not fear, and as long as traders keep predicting the top, it won’t happen.

Alternate Outcome:
The end of this rally is coming and the market doesn’t always follow a set playbook.  There are countless examples of markets topping without a surge of buying that exhausts demand, but we are playing a game of probabilities.  If most rallies top on high volume, that becomes the basis for a high-probability trade.  We could be wrong, but if we trade this way over a long period of time, we will win more often than we lose and that is the key to succeeding in the markets.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

Quite a bit of indecision in AAPL as it struggles for direction.  The stock opened low, surged higher, and is now drifting lower.  While the technical rally attempt is still intact, we can probably say the fundamental justification for the rally, an imminent dividend and buyback increase, is dead.  Can this rebound continue without its rally cry   As it stands, I see no fundamental or supply and demand reason for this stock to rebound here and I continue expecting lower prices.

AMZN daily at 1:18 EST

AMZN daily at 1:18 EST

AMZN broke above the 50dma on elevated volume.  Anyone who jumped on the short bandwagon is having a bad day.  Same goes for those that bought unconfirmed 50dma support and were chased out by the recent pullback.  Going forward, anyone looking for a good entry into AMZN, here is your shot.  Put your stop near $260, but this bounce should not fall back under the 50dma.  If it does, consider selling before it reaches $260.

NFLX is recovering from a few days of selling.  Any bears who used this weakness as a shorting opportunity are second guessing that decision and many are buying back their shorts, adding fuel to the rally.  These stories go further and longer than most expect and bears would be better off burning a pile of cash in their driveway than shorting a strong stock.  Maybe NFLX is overvalued here, but that doesn’t mean the market will recognize that any time soon.

LNKD is finding buyers at these higher levels and this is supportive of a continuation.  The market obviously doesn’t care what its P/E is and neither should you.  Anyone shorting this stock because of the P/E should just send their money to me and I promise to put it to better use.  No doubt this stock could crater here, but that doesn’t make shorting LNKD a good trade, just a lucky one.  The difference between luck and a good plan is luck always runs out.

FOSL is having a bad day.  We will see if it respects support at $102.  If a stock falls more than a few percent under the pivot, then the chances of success diminish dramatically.  Success in the market is not about being right all the time, but how a trader responds when wrong.

Stay safe

Feb 12

PM: AAPL sells the news

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 made a new high as volume returned, further supporting recent levels.  AAPL fell after Cook disappointed the hopeful, and FOSL still looks interesting.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Another new high as stocks broke 1520 on average volume and traders finally returned after two holiday-like volume days on Friday and Monday.  The intraday range was tight and the market is taking a break after last week’s volatility.  All good signs of support for these new levels.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Two things we know about this market, 1) it is not breaking down and 2) it is not taking off.  While fairly basic, these two characteristics are highly insightful.  Each dip last week bounced back decisively after an early flurry of selling.  The market found a bottom and rebounded because most holders are comfortable with their positions and not easily spooked by weakness.  On the other side, the rate of gains is fairly moderate as new buyers are only trickling in at this point.  There is no irrational chasing, simply pessimists joining the rally bandwagon a handful at a time.  This slow erosion of bears is what is pushing the market higher.

If those two characteristics are driving this rally, then we need to be on the lookout for a change in either.  Failing to hold support would be a big flag showing holders are not as confident.  On the other side, if we see a mad dash to buy this market, expect that buying to exhaust itself fairly quickly.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
This is turning into a broken record, but keep doing what is working.  Often the market adopts a consistent personality for an entire quarter as fund managers fall into the same pattern.  This quarter is driven by big money chasing the market higher.  Next quarter could be volatile sideways trade and the quarter after that is the expected selloff.  This quarterly behavior isn’t the rule, but it happens often enough to be noteworthy and it potentially means we have 6-weeks left in this rally.

Alternate Outcome:
The days in this rally are numbered and we are on day and a few points closer to the end of this run.  Look for a change in character between not holding support, increased volatility, or a surge higher.

I surprised a few people when I said I am 300% long S&P500 index funds.  While that sounds like a lot of risk, we cannot make a valid risk assessment based on leverage alone.  A huge move in the S&P500 is 2%, while a big move in AAPL is 10%.  When factoring in volatility, the risk in a 300% index position is not all that different from a 50% stake in AAPL.

But having said that, I trade what works well for me and that is swing-trading the indexes using leverage to spice up the returns.  I follow the S&P500 close enough that I often know when a trade is not going to work out even before it hits my stops.  This is the level of risk I am comfortable with, but it took years to work up to this level.  I always suggest people trade what they are most comfortable with.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL daily at end of day

AAPL hit its head on $485 yesterday and sold off ever since.  We will see what the stock has in store for us tomorrow, but this is shaping up as a boiler plate sell-the-news trade.  Tim Cook seemed openly hostile to accusations of cash hoarding and it doesn’t look like the company’s stance will change in the near-term.  If this was the catalyst traders used to justify bidding up the stock, they need to close out once their original thesis proves invalid.  The stock can rally for any number of reasons, but an increased dividend seems less likely.  If the stock doesn’t come back to life on Wednesday, look for a retest of recent lows.

FOSL closed at the lows of the day’s trading range and almost closed the opening gap.  Even with the intraday selloff the stock still looks interesting as long as it finds support.  Often the more cynical traders are to a story, the more likely it is to work.  Just look at NFLX, AMZN, and LNKD for recent examples.  Look for support at $106 and the trade will clearly be broken if the stock dips under $102.

Stay safe

Feb 12

AM: Adding to recent gains

By Jani Ziedins | Intraday Analysis

S&P500 daily at 1:02 EST

S&P500 daily at 1:02 EST

AM Update

The market is holding recent gains in quiet trade while AAPL is dipping in active trade.  FOSL is breaking out and setting up an interesting trade.  AMZN bounced back and is just under the 50dma and NFLX is holding recent gains.

MARKET BEHAVIOR

Stocks are up modestly this morning and continue supporting the recent break above 1515.

MARKET SENTIMENT

Things that are “expensive” usually get more expensive.  This is because people shy away from them and that means there is a larger pool of available buyers.  Contrast this with something that is “cheap” and a “good buy”.  That means everyone is already in the stock/market and there is a large pool of available sellers.  We are seeing both cases play out in this market.  The S&P500 continues higher no matter how “overbought” people claim it is and AAPL keeps going down no matter how “cheap” people think it is.  Trading isn’t about what people think, but how they are positioned.   When everyone loves something there is little demand left, when everyone is suspicious there are few sellers left.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
Stick with the trend because what is overbought is about to get even more overbought.  The tight trade over the last couple days is a nice change from last week’s volatility.  Calm and stead trade bodes well for a sustainable continuation.

Alternate Outcome:
This rally will end at some point and with each passing day we are one day closer to that end.  We’ve come almost 180 points since the November lows and without a doubt most of this leg’s gains are behind us.  At most we have another 50 points left in the tank before we see some kind of larger consolidation/pullback.  Look for a material break of support at 1500 or an unsustainable surge higher to signal this rally is dying, but until then stick with the steady climb higher.

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

AAPL is suffering a bout of sell-the-news as Tim Cook failed to deliver what speculators were hoping for.  If the justification for the recent bounce is invalid, then the trade is also invalid and traders need to get out.  Look for the stock to trade back down to recent lows if it cannot find a floor and bounce back this afternoon.

FOSL daily at 1:02 EST

FOSL daily at 1:02 EST

FOSL popped nicely and looks buyable for the aggressive trader.  The stock could dip and close the gap, but the trend is clearly higher.  Use a stop-loss near $103.

AMZN is bouncing back from yesterday’s selloff, but is still under the 50dma.  If it cannot regain this moving average on decisive volume, there could be a quick short trade here.  Either way look for a decisive break from this area and ride it for some quick profits.  Don’t get greedy and take profits early.

NFLX opened higher, but sold off by midday and is in the red for the 4th day.  But more bullish is holding support above $175.  Selling is a normal and a health part of moving ahead so don’t pay too much attention to the recent volatility as long as the stock keeps holding recent gains.

Stay safe