Jun 07

Trading Plan for June 8th

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 9.07.00 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P 500 carved out fresh 2016 highs Tuesday, a long way from the February doldrums that lead to widespread predictions of doom-and-gloom. The biggest question is if we should buy this breakout, or short the upper end of a summer trading range.

The day’s other big headline is oil closed above $50 for the first time this year. A nearly 100% gain in a few short months persuaded many to predict a continuation straight to $60. The problem with consensus is it’s rarely right. If everyone is convinced oil has another $10 of upside, then it seems like an easy buy. Unfortunately for us, very few things in the market are easy. This nearly universal bullishness makes me suspect a near-term top is just around the corner. No doubt we can get to $60, but most likely it will be bumpy ride with many confidence shattering gyrations along the way. Since oil’s breakout above $50 is an obvious buy-point, many oil traders have already bought and incremental demand will be harder to come by. With a scarcity of new buyers, what is going to push the price higher?

The story for the S&P 500 sounds a lot like what I just described for oil. While we’re near all-time highs, what catalyst is ahead of us that will convince people to buy stocks at record highs? A lot of institutional money managers are on summer vacation, leading to the typically lower volume we see this season. If big institutional money isn’t around to buy, who else has the firepower necessary to sustain a continued move higher? If we cannot answer that question, it is hard to get excited about this breakout.

This week the stock market rebounded from the slowest hiring numbers in half a decade. Rather than fear economic slowing, traders cheered the Fed’s postponed interest rate-hike. I don’t know about you, but I would more bullish if the Fed hiked interest rates because the economy was doing well, not the other way around. This excitement over a stagnant economy doesn’t make a lot of sense and is most likely only a reactionary phenomena. Delaying the second rate-hike a few months isn’t going to do much to improve corporate earnings and thus will have a limited impact on longer-term equity prices.

As for how to trade this, the last couple of days looked more like short covering than sustainable breakout buying. Shorts were forced to cover when we rose above their stop-loss levels. But often the point of maximum pain is where the market reverses. Surging to 2,120 would have led to widespread capitulation as most bears gave up ahead of the “inevitable” runup to all-time highs. But this afternoon the air was let out of the breakout as most of those early gains fizzled and we returned to near break-even. That lack of follow-on buying is a big red flag for bulls. We want to see people chasing this breakout, not taking profits. If we hold above 2,100 through the remainder of the week, then the situation looks good for bulls. But if we stumble back under 2,100 so soon after the breakout, look for a return to at least 2,080 and more likely 2,060. Trade accordingly.

Jani

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May 31

Trading Plan for Wednesday June 1st

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 8.41.36 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P 500 gapped above 2,100 resistance at Tuesday’s open, but the euphoria was short-lived and we slipped back under this psychologically important level by midmorning. That tells us few were willing to chase the breakout and we were held back by a lack of demand. Volume was elevated, but this had more to do with last day of the month adjustments than the crowd overreacting to today’s price-action. The big weekly event is payroll numbers on Friday. Another lukewarm or better result will give the Fed a green light to raise rates over the next few weeks.

In her speech on Friday, Janet Yellen made it clear a June or July rate-hike is still a very real possibility. Following some brief intraday volatility, the market largely brushed off the rate-hike talk and ended the day strong. This was bullish because it showed most owners don’t fear a quarter-point rate-hike and were more than content hold their stocks through this noise. But this morning’s fizzled breakout tells a different story. While lack of supply fueled this two-week rebound from May’s lows, we are running into an equal and opposite lack of demand as we approach old highs.

Since we are quickly rolling into the summer doldrums, we are more likely to fall into a trading range than breakout to new highs. Big institutional decision makers are headed to the Hamptons and they are leaving their portfolios on autopilot. We need traders to buy this market with enthusiasm to breakthrough a stubborn 2,100 resistance level. At the moment stalling seems more likely than chasing.

Until we get better clarity about the market’s intentions, short-term traders are better off waiting for a more attractive opportunity than trying to force a bullish or bearish bet here. If we roll over, expect the profit-taking to push us back to the 50dma. On the other hand, if we keep bumping up against 2,100 resistance, there isn’t much selling pressure and we will likely continue to all-time highs. Both of these moves only amount to a couple dozen points, so don’t expect an explosive move in either direction. But during the summer we take what we can get.

Jani

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May 26

Trading Plan for Friday May 26th

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.57.09 PMEnd of Day Update:

Thursday was a quiet day for the S&P 500 as we await Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday. Volume was exceptionally light because few chose to adjust their portfolio. This apathy showed up in the price-action too as we spent all day inside a few point range and closed exactly where we started.

Given the 65-point rebound off last week’s lows, a do-nothing day is constructive. It allows traders to catch their breath and suggests that we are not at unsustainably overbought levels yet. If demand dried up and nervous traders were taking profits, we would have quickly tumbled from these levels. That means at least for the moment owners are confidently waiting for higher prices. When owners don’t sell, supply stays tight and prices remain strong.

The wildcard is what Janet Yellen says on Friday. Rate-hike headlines fell off of the front pages and that dissipating fear allowed us to rebound from last week’s lows. But has this move already priced in bullish comments from Yellen? Since risk is a function of height, the surge in prices makes this a riskier time to buy than last week and there is less margin for error. If she says the right things we bounce a little higher. If she says the wrong things, there is 50-points of air underneath us. Limited upside and lots of downside setup a poor risk/reward for buying the market ahead of this speech.

The most likely outcome is Yellen keeps a June rate-hike on the table and the stock market switches into fretting mode. That could push us back down to the 50dma. But since these comments won’t surprise many, only the knee-jerk traders will sell the news. Once they are out, supply will dry up and prices will bounce. Buying this rebound will be a good entry for those that missed last week’s recovery. But after a brief period of volatility, expect the frenetic trading to dry up as we return to more benign summer trade. Since a big portion of the institutional decision makers are on their way out the door for summer vacation, expect most portfolios to be put on autopilot. That means no big directional moves and a summer trading range to develop. Buy the dips, sell the rips, and repeat until fall.

Jani

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May 24

Trading Plan for Wednesday May 25th

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.00.35 PMEnd of Day Update:

Stocks exploded higher in one of the biggest up-days of the year. We received encouraging housing numbers this morning but they were certainly not enough to justify this type of pop. Instead of a fundamental driver, this rally was fueled by sentiment.

As I wrote last week, bullish sentiment fell to five-year lows. While things can always get worse, the more skewed the market gets in one direction, the more likely a swift reversal becomes. Last Thursday’s intraday dip and rebound was our signal to buy. Breaking support is an obvious trigger for additional selling, but when that wave of liquidation failed to materialize, that is when we knew the sellers weren’t there. Friday’s and Tuesday’s strong gains confirmed this thesis. We’re not going up on good news, we’re rallying on a lack of supply. No matter what the headlines, when owners don’t sell, supply tightens and prices rebound.

The cynical bear will point to Tuesday’s light volume rebound, but that is further proof most owners are not interested in selling.  They’re happy with their positions and not responding to headline fear-mongering or weak price-action. Tuesday’s rebound reaffirms their decision to hold, making them even less likely to sell the next round of recycled rate-hike/China/oil/weak earnings headlines.

Given how skewed sentiment was, most likely there is more life in this rebound. The next obvious target is 2,100 resistance. From there it really becomes a battle of wills between those with cash and those with stock. Every previous rally attempt was thwarted when those with cash were unwilling to chase a breakout. Since we are quickly approaching the summer doldrums, we shouldn’t expect anything different this time. With big money managers headed to the Hamptons, a lot of institutional money will be on autopilot over the next few months. That means a continuation of this this sideways chop. Until further notice, buy weakness and sell strength.

For a trading plan, as long as the market continues to behave well, dip-buyers should hold until we test 2,100 resistance. Breaking this level could lead to another round of chasing and short-covering. If the breakout fizzles, that will be our signal to take profits. On the downside, take profits defensively if we stumble back under the 50dma this week. A deflation similar to May 11th tells us there is no demand and we need to lock-in profits before they evaporate.

Jani

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May 19

Trading plan for Friday May 20th

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.24.55 PMEnd of Day Update:

The S&P 500 fell out of bed Thursday morning when the Philly Manufacturing Index came in below expectations. This conspired with Wednesday’s rate-hike fears and we crashed through 2,040 support. But just when it looked like we were falling into the abyss, we ran out of sellers and rebounded into the close, erasing a big chunk of the morning’s losses.

It was a scary morning for the traders who reactively dumped their stocks before “things get worse”. But for the contrarians in who moved to cash last week, this price-action is exactly what we have been waiting for. As I wrote last week, I was excited about March 10th’s 1.25% pop. That is until the rebound stalled the following day. That’s when I told my subscribers I was taking profits and moving to cash. A sustainable rebound would keep going. When last week’s rebound fizzled, that was our signal to move to the sidelines. But rather than give up on the trade, I knew I was simply early. Breaking support this morning and then rebounding is the sign I was looking for to jump back in.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.23.56 PMEven though the headlines and price-action feel scary, these are nothing more than recycled news stories. We’ve been talking about rate-hikes, Chinese slowing, oil weakness, a sluggish recovery, and strong dollar for six-months. Traders that fear these stories sold a long time ago and were replaced by buyers who are comfortable holding these risks. This churn in ownership is how news gets priced in. When there is no one left to sell a headline, it stops mattering. While an inflammation here and there can cause some indigestion, the size of each successive dip gets smaller and smaller. Without anything new to add to the same old story, we can be comfortable knowing dip won’t go much further.

And if we need confirmation, 74% of StockTwits users on the $SPY stream are bearish and AAII bullish sentiment is at 5-year lows. Pretty surprising how bearish the crowd can be when we are less than 5% from all-time highs. Is it reasonable to expect a big chunk of the market to see the next big crash coming from a mile away, or is it more likely that the crowd is getting this one wrong and selling just before we rebound? It’s pretty obvious which side I’m on, but only time will tell for sure.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.58.04 PMThursday’s rebound created an attractive entry point but just like last week, if this bounce fizzles, then we’re still too early and need to move back to the sidelines. If this is the real deal we should rebound decisively Friday. We don’t need positive news story, simply an exhaustion of the selling. People trade their outlook and with so many bears running around we have to be darn close to running out of sellers. No matter what the headlines are, when we run out of sellers we stop going down.

Jani

What’s a good trade worth to you? How about avoiding a loss?
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