May 11

Why today’s selloff failed

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

End of Day Update:

Thursday provided a dramatic ride for the S&P500. We started the day with the biggest losses in several weeks. Within minutes of the open we undercut 2,390 support and that triggered a wave of reactionary stop-loss selling. But just as quickly as the selloff started, the rush for the exits stalled and we bottomed near 2,380 support. And just like that, the selloff was over and we spent the rest of the day climbing out of that hole. While we didn’t quite reach breakeven, the intraday reversal was impressive and told us most owners continue to believe in this market and won’t be spooked out so easily.

The biggest headline continues to be Trump’s dismissal of the FBI director. While the media is making a huge deal out of it, the stock market doesn’t care that much. Even at today’s lowest point, we were still within 1% of all-time highs. Hard to call such a small blip panicked selling.

While it felt awful in the moment, all selloffs feel that way. If they didn’t, no one would sell and we wouldn’t dip in the first place. But given how quickly we bounced off the lows, that tells us few owners were spooked by this price-action. Most owners have been rewarded by patiently waiting for higher prices and every bounce makes it easier to hold through the next dip. This confidence is infectious and the VIX is hovering just above all-time lows as traders continue to believe in this market’s strength. While it is easy to claim this market is too complacent, the harder part is figuring out when that complacency will become a problem. At the moment complacency is keeping supply tight because owners are not selling and that is propping up prices. While this might be the calm before the storm, the calm can last for an extended period of time. It is good to be cautious, but shorting just because the market is complacent is costing a lot of smart people a lot of money.

Expect prices to be resilient as long as owners remain confident. Until some headline comes across that makes the crowd start second-guessing their optimistic outlook, expect every dip to keep bouncing. Even though the market is vulnerable with so many people standing on one side, we need a significant event to trigger the panic. Until then the smart money is sticking with the rally.

Jani

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May 09

Should we fear this complacency?

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

End of Day Analysis

The S&P500 poked its head above 2,400 resistance in early trade for a second consecutive morning, but just like Monday, we were unable to hold those highs on Tuesday. But before we get too pessimistic, both the gains and losses were small and mostly insignificant, measuring only a handful of points in either direction. While 2,400 has been a ceiling for the last few weeks, few traders were enthusiastically buying this breakout and that lack of demand is keeping a lid on prices.

On April 27th I wrote in my free blog:

Currently we are at the upper end of the trading range, meaning this is a better place to be taking profits than adding new positions. The longer we hold near these highs, the more likely it is we will break through 2,400 resistance, but without a substantive headline driving the breakout, expect the buying to fizzle and prices to tumble back into the heart of the trading range.

And so far this is exactly how things have played out. Stubbornly confident owners are keeping supply tight and propping up prices, but new money isn’t willing to chase prices higher and the breakout fizzled. But that was then, and this is now. What people really want to know is what comes next.

The post-election rally has been built on the back of expected tax cuts. We came a long way in anticipation of these cuts, but now we are getting to the point where traders need to see our politicians start delivering on their campaign promises before they will push prices any higher. Confident owners are keeping supply tight, but new money is no longer willing to push us any higher.

It is tempting to point to the record low VIX and claim this market is complacent. And I don’t disagree, this market is incredibly complacent. But the thing about complacency is it can persist for long periods of time. If confident owners haven’t sold any of the bearish headlines and price-action over the last several months, why are they going to start selling now? The simple answer is they won’t. Not until they have a good reason to change their mind. This bull market will die like every other one before it, but it needs something more than complacency to take it down and right now we don’t have that.

Markets like symmetry. We find ourselves in a very unemotional period, meaning traders on both sides are not very engaged in this market. We go up a few points, we go down a few points. No one is getting too excited in either direction. Even though the market is stalling at 2,400 resistance, we shouldn’t expect prices to tumble from here. Instead look for a pullback that matches the intensity with which we broke out. A few points higher and a few points lower.

Unfortunately for us traders, it is hard to profit from these small moves. But that is the way this goes. Sometimes we have great opportunities, other times not so much. It turns out this is one of those not so much times. But don’t despair, good trades are never far away. I don’t know what and when the next market moving event will be, but I do know it is coming. The challenge is for us to resist the temptation to over-trade this sideways chop and give back our hard-earned profits. Long-term success in the market doesn’t come from our winners, but minimizing our losers. It is easy to make money, the hard part is keeping it.

Jani

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