Oct 04

While the ride was scary, did anything change today?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update

Thursday was brutal for the S&P 500. Ten-year Treasury yields surged to the highest levels since 2011 and fear of sharply rising interest rates sent global equity investors scrambling for cover.

The S&P 500 opened down a modest 0.2%, but that was as good as it is got and by midday, we crashed through 2,900 support and the selling didn’t stop until we shed nearly 1.5%. This was definitely a sell first, ask questions later kind of day. But not all was bad. A late-afternoon rebound reclaimed 2,900 support before the close. Not very often do we breathe a sigh of relief when the market finishes down 0.8%, but that was so much better than it could have been.

The question on everyone’s mind is what happens next. Today’s frenzied selling hit us out of the blue and is unlike anything we’ve seen in months. Wednesday we were flirting with all-time highs, but barely 24-hours later we crashed through support and shed nearly 60-points from the previous day’s highs. We have to go back to this winter’s big selloff to see two-day price-action that dramatic. It was especially shocking given how benign volatility has been lately. But the market has a nasty habit of smacking us when we least expect it, and that is exactly what happened Thursday.

While this price-action was dramatic, the first thing we have to ask ourselves is if anything actually changed. A surge in interest rates was the excuse for Thursday’s selloff, and while rates climbed to the highest levels in years, they didn’t really go up that much. We broke through 3% for the first time back in May and have been consistently above this level since September. And this week’s “surge” took us from 3.1% all the way up to 3.2%. It’s not nearly as impressive when you look at it that way.

But a segment of traders was looking for an excuse to sell, and once the floodgates opened, the race to the exits was on. Early selling pushed us under the first set of stop-losses, and that selling pushed us under the next tranche of stop-losses. That pattern of reactive selling, dropping, and more reactive selling continued until we triggered all the stop-losses and ran out of defensive sellers willing to abandon this market.

And so what happens next? We don’t need to look very far because what will happen next is the exact same thing that happened last time, and the time before that. This is an incredibly resilient market. Owners refused to sell an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. They refused to sell an ever-expanding investigation into the president. They refused to sell the Fed raising interest rates three times this year and promising another hike before the end of the year. Should we believe confident owners would sit through all that, only to lose their nerve and turn into panicked sellers when Treasury rates go from 3.1% to 3.2%. Really???

I don’t see anything that materially changed Thursday and that means my positive outlook remains intact. Everyone knows stocks cannot go up every…single….day. Dips are inevitable. The thing to remember about dips is they always feel real. If they didn’t, no one would sell and we wouldn’t dip! Without a doubt, Thursday’s selloff felt real. But nothing changed, and that means we should ignore the noise. This is a strong market and the rally into year-end is alive and well. Savvy traders are buying these discounts, not selling them.

Last week I wrote the following and nothing changed since then:

There is not a lot to do with our short-term money. Either we stay and cash and wait for a more attractive opportunity, or we stretch our time-horizon and ride the eventual move higher. Of course, there is no free lunch and holding stocks is risky. Anyone waiting for the next move higher needs to be prepared to sit through near-term uncertainty and volatility.

If a person has cash, they are a great position to buy these discounts. If a person was taking a longer view, they should have expected dips and gyrations along the way. If they knew something like this could happen, they would be less tempted to reactively sell the weakness. Unfortunately, a lot of traders were not prepared for this dip, and they joined the crowd jumping out the window. But it’s not all bad, their loss is our gain when they sell us their heavily discounted stocks. Sign up for Free Email Alerts so you are on the right side of the trade next time.

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Oct 02

When to ignore red flags

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Update:

On Tuesday the S&P 500 continued hovering near all-time highs as it digests recent trade war and interest rate headlines. We’ve been trading near 2,900 for nearly six weeks as the market consolidates August’s breakout to all-time highs.

But this isn’t a surprise for regular readers of this blog. I wrote the following nearly a month ago, and the market has behaved exactly as expected since then:

 “I didn’t expect much out of this dip and that is exactly what it gave us. Since the market likes symmetry, we shouldn’t expect much out of this rebound either. The next move is most likely trading sideways near the psychologically significant 2,900 level. It will take time for those with cash to become comfortable buying these levels before we will start marching higher again.”

With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious the market isn’t up to much. But that didn’t stop countless people from losing money by selling last month’s dip and chasing Monday’s rebound. Easy mistakes that could have been avoided if people were paying attention. Make sure you sign up for Free Email Alerts so you don’t miss profitable insights like these.

Over the weekend the United States and Canada struck a compromise on a revised NAFTA. That sent prices higher Monday morning, but the market has struggled to add to those gains.

Typically a market that fails to react to good news makes me nervous, and Monday’s fizzled breakout definitely raised a red flag. A lack of follow-on buying often tells us we are running out of buyers and a price collapse is imminent. But this is not a not a normal market and the same rules don’t always apply.

Without a doubt, yesterday’s fizzle got my attention. But at the same time, this muted reaction is consistent with this bull market’s personality. Volatility is extremely low and that works in both direction. Since market selloffs are quicker and larger than rallies, this market’s reluctance to sell off on bad news is far more impressive than this week’s inability to surge higher on good news. I’d love to see prices race higher, but I’m not overly worried about this modest move becaue it fits this market’s personality. As I’ve been saying for a while, this is a slow market, and we need to be patient and allow the profits to come to us.

I’m willing to forgive the market for not holding Monday’s early highs, but that does count as one strike. If I see more warning signs, it will force me to reevaluate my outlook. But until then, I’m still giving this resilient bull market the benefit of the doubt.

FB is still struggling to get its mojo back. Between last quarter’s earnings disappointment, looming privacy regulations, and last week’s hacking revelation, it’s been hard for this stock to turn sentiment around. This is still the hottest social media property and nothing else comes close. As long as technology continues to be the hottest sector, FB will continue to be a buy. But if FB cannot catch back up to its FAANG peers, that could be an early sign the other FAANG stocks are skating on thin ice. At this point, FB is far more likely to catch up to the other tech high fliers than it is to bring everyone else down to their level. Things still look good over near-term and into year-end, but the situation could look a lot different next year. Stocks and sectors often take turns leading the way higher and at some point technology will hand the baton to the next hot sector.

AMZN announced it is boosting starting pay to $15/hr for its warehouse and other front-line employees. The stock initially dipped on the news, but it has since recovered those losses. Paying employees well is far better than dealing with high turnover, disgruntled workers, and public relation campaigns against the company. Plus, this has always been a growth story, not one about profits. Attracting and retaining the best employees will help it extend its growth streak.

Despite the flurry of headlines over the last few days, TSLA is right back where it was last week. The bulls are as dug in and entrenched as the bears. Both sides are prepared to fight to the death, and that is resulting in this stalemate. At this point, I still give a slight edge to the bulls simply because we are still at the lower end of this summer’s trading range.

Bitcoin is still struggling to break $6.8k resistance. If buyers wanted to buy this dip, they would have jumped in already. The chronic lack of demand at these levels is a concern, and the path of least resistance remains lower.

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