Mar 11

Why the Coronavirus matters when Trade Wars and Brexits didn’t

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis

Anyone following the market over the last few years came to appreciate this market’s Teflon nature. No matter what headlines were thrown at it, it shrugged them off and continued higher. Earnings recessions. Brexits. Trade Wars. Rate Hikes. Nothing slowed this market’s relentless climb to, and then beyond, all-time highs. That is until the Coronavirus came along and now we are in the middle of the biggest and fastest stock market crash since the 2008 Financial Crisis. Why this? Why now? What makes this different?

The simple answer is all of the other events were economically quantifiable. After a brief shock and a few percent corrections, traders were able to quantify the financial impact of 25% tit-for-tat tariffs between the US and China. The Brexit was a little less clear since no country left the EU before, but after a few gyrations, the market quickly realized both sides would work this out and even if they didn’t, both economies could survive the divorce even if it got ugly. Rate hikes? Been there, done that. All of these things were bad for stocks but after a brief bobble, traders got used to them, priced the news in, and moved on.

But the Coronavirus? Nothing like this happened in modern history. There is no telling how far the economic damage could go. Business travel is suspended. Conferences canceled. Festivals canceled. Sporting events canceled, postponed, or held without spectators. Even the Olympics this summer is threatened. Airlines are already reporting a bigger decline in bookings than they saw after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and there are few things more disturbing than the images we saw that day.

We haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetime and that makes it impossible to predict the economic fallout. By nature, markets hate uncertainty more than bad news. It can price in bad news and move on. But the unknown, how do you price that in? You can’t and is why many investors are taking a sell now, ask questions later approach to their portfolios.

And unfortunately, I don’t see the uncertainty clearing up anytime soon. But that isn’t all bad for the market. While the headlines will continue to deteriorate, with every passing day and each successive headline, there are fewer and fewer scared owners left in the market. Once the last of those have sold, supply dries up and prices bounce no matter what is going on in the news. While some people are waiting for a slowdown in the infection rate or a vaccine to be announced, the stock market will rebound from the lows long before then.

When will that bounce happen? The honest answer is I don’t know. And no one else does either. This is an emotional selloff and conventional rules don’t apply. Trendlines, support levels, moving averages, P/E ratios, all of it is totally and completely meaningless to an emotional market. This selloff will end when we run out of scared sellers. Nothing more, nothing less. Are we close, yes, we’re very close. The challenge is in a market that falls 4%, 5%, and 7% in a single day, an imminent bounce might come to our rescue, but prices could be at much lower when it finally happens.

This is a day-trader’s paradise. Everyone else should resist the urge to react to these gyrations. That means either sticking with your long-term positions and buying more of your favorite stocks, or watching this unfold from the safety of the sidelines and only jumping back in after the overnight gaps and intraday swings calm down. As the saying goes, it is better to be a little late than a lot early.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM $AAPL $AMZN

Mar 09

CMU: Trading plan for markets in turmoil

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Cracked.Market University

The S&P had one of the worst days since the 2008 Financial Crisis, plunging a staggering 7% from Friday’s close and violating recent lows in the process. While the Coronavirus remains front and center, frayed nerves were shattered when Saudi Ariba launched an aggressive oil price war against Russia, going full nuclear and triggering the biggest one-day oil price crash in nearly 30 years. Global markets were already teetering on edge and this news gave us the biggest kick in the pants imaginable.

How do we trade this? That’s a question everyone wants to know, so let’s get to it.

First, we need to bifurcate our approach into two major strategies because our primary objectives have a huge impact on how we approach this volatility. It all comes down to time-frame. Either we are steady long-term investors or we are nimble swing-traders. There is zero room in between these extremes. Pick one or the other and make a ton of money. Find yourself in the middle and other people will be getting rich at your expense.

Now, there is a smart way to straddle these two extremes, but it most definitely doesn’t come from blending timeframes. Instead, we allocate a portion of our market exposure to each approach. Have some dedicated long-term investments and another portion is exclusively for swing-trading. As long as each piece falls firmly within one of these clearly defined strategies, you will be fine. Anyone mixing the two quickly become a wealth doner (If you know anyone like this, please thank them for allowing us to have such a great month!)

Trading Plan

Long-term:
Let’s start with the long-term approach. This is the classic buy-it-and-forget-it. These people shouldn’t be following the market’s daily movements and if they do, it is only so they know when prices dip and they can add more. Anyone selling long-term investments during this crash is making a huge, huge mistake. Don’t be that guy. Buy-high and sell-low never works.

If your trade started as a long-term investment, keep it that way. Stop following the headlines and watching the market’s daily gyrations. If you really want to do something, pick your favorite investments and add more. Scale up your 401k contributions, don’t decrease them. In nine months when pundits are reflecting back on 2020, the Coronavirus will simply be a footnote and life will be back to normal. If you bought the dip, great. If you sold it, well, someone needed to donate their money so the rest of us can have a great year.

Short-term:
While a lot happened over the last few weeks, the short-term trading plan I’ve been sharing with subscribers hasn’t changed in three weeks. When something is working this well, why mess with it?

First, we are small investors and that means we can get in and out of the market with the greatest of ease. This is far-and-away our largest advantage over the big boys and if we don’t exploit this strength, we should convert everything over to long-term investments and forget about trading this chop.

Second, this is often a counter-trend trading technique, meaning we need to be extremely nimble, buy early, and exit losing trades fast. The only way to survive this stuff is by being earlier and faster than everyone else.

Third, start small and only add to winning trades.

Fourth, buy bounces early and short breakdowns just as quickly. Moving decisively allows us to place a nearby stop under the lows on a bounce or just above support on a short. The closer our stops, the less money we have at risk.

Fifth, be prepared for a lot of head fakes and false alarms. There will be inevitable rebounds that fizzle and violations that rebound. No big deal. As long as we start small, get in early, and have a nearby stop, the losses will be minor and inconsequential compared to the towering profits when we catch the next big move.

And Sixth, trade in such a size that when we are wrong, it stings, but it isn’t crippling. Being long into this morning’s open would have sucked, but if we bought near Friday’s lows and only held a small position over the weekend, it actually wasn’t that big of a deal.

Take all of those strategies together and our trading plan is to buy any and all bounces early, start small, keep a nearby stop, and close/short the violation of support. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I’ve been buying every bounce for two weeks and I keep making money shorting the market. And I will continue buying every bounce until the market stops giving away money. If I make money buying the dip, great. If I make money shorting the violation, great. It makes no difference to me as long as I’m making money.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Mar 06

CMU: Why everyone is right about this market but they are still losing money

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Cracked.Market University

The S&P 500 continues whipping around violently. It’s been two weeks filled with 4% intraday price swings and a lot of people are losing a lot of money. But that’s stating the obvious. What readers really want to know is how to turn those losses into profits.

It is impossible to come to the market without some kind of bias. We spend most of our time searching for proof that supports our predisposed outlook. Bulls see the positive in every event and bears see the opposite. While some people claim they “don’t have a bias”, unless they are a robot, they’re lying to themselves and few things are more expensive than fooling yourself.

Rather than deny what we can’t control, successful traders learn to control it. (Exceptional traders even know how to harness that power, but I’ll save that topic for another post.)

What makes this idea so important right now is because it is impossible to come to this selloff without thinking either A) it is totally overblown and unreasonable or B) this is just getting started and we are going so much lower.

The paradox of those opposing statements is both been very true over the last several weeks. And not just once, but multiple times.

Last month the market rallied decisively in the face of Cornovirus fears. But all of that ended last week when prices crashed hard and the bears were finally able to beat their chest triumphantly. But two day later bulls were strutting around again because the market rebounded in spectacular fashion. Then came Tuesday’s second-guessing and not long after, the Biden Bounce. And finally today, the market closed near the weekly lows.

In perfectly alternating fashion, the bulls went from holding all the cards to falling on their face. Then it was the bears’ turn. As soon as one side was feeling pretty good, the next smackdown came. And honestly, I don’t see these alternating reversals of fortune changing anytime soon.

If we tally the score, bulls have been right three times and the bears matched that tally with their own three wins. But if the score is even, how can so many people be losing money? Easy, rather than collect profits confidently, most people wait until they are wrong and they cannot bear the pain of loss before liquidating their positions. Bulls sell the crash and bears buy the bounce (ie cover their shorts). One day’s profits become the next day’s losses. Rather than strut around and taunt the opposing side, smart money is taking profits.

My personal bias is this tumble is a gross overreaction and prices will bounce back soon enough. But rather than argue with the market crash, I’ve been too busy making money following its lead. When it wants to go down, I short it. When it wants to go up, I buy the bounce. And rather than pat myself on the back for a good trade, I’m locking-in worthwhile profits as soon as I have them. As long as I’m making money, I don’t care if anyone knows what I think.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM

Mar 05

CMU: Lesson 6: Sometimes the best trade is to not trade

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Cracked.Market University

Now that we are nearly two full weeks into the Coronavirus crash, collecting profits is going to become a lot more challenging. The first few swings of any crash are the easiest to profit from because the market moves sharply lower, obliterating all rational support levels along the way. But just when all hope is lost, supply dries up and we get a nearly instantaneous rebound that recovers a huge portion of the crash. Unfortunately, this relief rally is short-lived because the market likes symmetry and a crash that goes too far is immediately followed by a rebound that goes just as overboard. That first overbought rebound is followed by an echo crash, followed by another echo rebound.

After a few days of clearly defined crashes and rebounds, the market starts to settle into a wide trading range. While the intensity of these swings starts to moderate, so does the predictability of the moves. Swings that went too far before reversing are now prone to switching directions in the middle of the range. Gone are the clear indications of too far and prices now jump and crash dramatically at seemingly random levels on less than obvious headlines.

While these moves are still profitable for the most nimble of traders, the speed with which these gyrations come and go makes it challenging to consistently stay on the right side of the market. Rather than try to force trades, sometimes the best trade is to simply sit back and not trade. If a person did well and collected nice profits over the last week and a half, it might be time to protect that windfall.

Spend any time in trading circles and you will quickly learn making money in the market isn’t hard. Even the most clueless of traders stumble into great trades. Winning isn’t the problem, it’s losing all of those great profits in the next bad trade. Sometimes we get a little too full of ourselves after a big win. Maybe we are dreaming of cashing in for something big and we need just a little bit more money. Whatever it is that convinces us to push things too far, that next ill-advised trade is what wipes out most of what we just earned.

Trade when you have an edge. But if you don’t have an edge, there is nothing wrong with taking a step back and waiting for a better opportunity. This market is on the verge of getting really choppy and a lot of people who traded the initial crash well are on the verge of giving all of those profits back. Don’t be that guy.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM