Sep 14

Why this is about to get a lot worse (and when it will start getting better)

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis: 

The S&P 500 bounced 0.34% Wednesday. While this would count as a respectable performance under most circumstances, unfortunately, these are not normal times.

Bouncing 0.3% on the heels of -4.3% bloodbath is downright pathetic. Stocks rebound from oversold levels hard and fast. And since Wednesday’s bounce was neither hard nor fast, that tells us the market is not oversold yet.

The optimist sees prices holding above 3,900 support. And without a doubt, Wednesday’s lack of follow-on selling brought some much-needed relief to warry stock owners. But Tuesday’s selling was emotionally charged and if there is one thing we know about emotional selloffs, they don’t bounce neatly off of support. Instead, they crash through support, send everyone scrambling for cover, and then bounce only after the crowd has given up hope.

Have we gotten to the point where all hope is lost? It definitely doesn’t feel like it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love buying the biggest down day of the entire decline because that often signals capitulation. The difference between those buyable crashes and Tuesday’s selloff is the latest tumble wasn’t plunging to fresh lows. Instead, we simply slipped back to levels from last week.

While a 4% bloodbath will get anyone’s attention, it doesn’t count as capitulatory selling until we are falling to levels no one thought was possible only a few days before. And since we were at these levels a few days ago, this doesn’t count.

No doubt Wednesday’s bounce could carry a little further on Thursday, but at this point, the wind is blowing in the other direction and momentum is clearly lower. Don’t relax because it is about to get worse. How much worse is anyone’s guess, but a terrifying violation of 3,900 support is clearly in the cards.

How much further we go under 3,900 is still up in the air and we will learn a lot more about the market’s mood when we get there. If supply dries up after violating widely followed support, then the bounce is near. If the panic selling resumes, hold on to your hats.

Of course, after this crashes through support and everyone else is panicking, that’s when we start looking for the next buyable bounce.

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Sep 13

Turning lemons into lemonade

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis: 

The S&P 500 crashed more than 4% Tuesday after the monthly inflation report came in higher than expected.

The panic selling wasn’t triggered because inflation continues accelerating. In fact, August’s 8.3% reading was under June’s 9.1%. The problem is the July and August stock market rebound was largely based on hopes inflation was moderating even quicker than this. And August’s stubbornly high inflation report dashed those hopes, sending stocks tumbling.

Now, before we throw the baby out with the bath water, Tuesday’s selling only pushed the index back to levels it was at several days ago. But this is one of those half-full, half-empty things. The half-full person sees an index still holding above 3,900 support. The half-empty person sees all the air underneath us if 3,900 support fails.

Will 3,900 support hold? That’s hard to say. But the thing we know for sure is emotion, and thus volatility, is off the chart. No matter what happens next, the move will be oversized. Either a hard and fast rebound from oversold levels or a spectacular crash through near-term support.

Lucky for us, we are nimble traders, so we don’t have to guess ahead of time. Instead, we wait for the market to make its next move and then we jump aboard.

While there is no way to predict a 4% crash, that doesn’t mean we can’t navigate these gyrations successfully. I am fully willing to admit I came into Tuesday’s session long. Last week’s rebound was acting well and there is no reason to abandon a trade that’s working. But lucky for me, my trading plan kept me safe. I buy bounces early and that extra margin made all the difference on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s open gap jumped my trailing stops and when the early bounce failed to stick, I had no choice but to pull the plug. And since I bought my positions last week, that still meant collecting some profits. Definitely not the profits I had in mind Monday afternoon, but on a day when everyone else is running around with their hair on fire, pulling smaller than expected profits isn’t a bad problem to have.

And it’s a good thing my trading plan pulled the plug early Tuesday because the index fell another 100 points before the session was over. This won’t rank anywhere near this year’s most profitable trades for me, but it will probably be one of my better trades because trading well doesn’t always show up in the P&L. Avoiding a loss is just as important as making money.

(I made some quick money shorting the afternoon swoon, but that was an opportunistic trade and not a strategic move.)

Now it’s time to wait and prepare for the next bounce…

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Sep 12

Stick with what’s working

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Free After-Hours Analysis: 

The S&P 500 finished Monday nicely higher.

A midday step-back tried to unwind some of these gains, but rather than join in the selling, most owners shrugged and prices quickly bounced back near the intraday highs.

If last week’s rebound was built on a pile of sand, the lunchtime swoon was more than enough to trigger a larger wave of follow-on selling. But so far most owners are comfortable holding for higher prices, meaning there is some substance to these prices.

We’ve been waiting a while for the back half of September and now that it’s finally here, we can start taking the market’s price action more seriously. That’s because institutional money managers are back at work and getting ready for the final months of 2022.

While we shouldn’t expect a dramatic change in the market’s behavior overnight, we can put more faith in any of the signals it gives us. And so far, it seems like big money is fairly comfortable with prices at these levels since they haven’t hit the sell button yet.

Maybe this changes tomorrow or next week, but so far, things look pretty good.

Hold the bounce, lift stops, and see what happens. There isn’t much else to do here.

Hold with stops spread across the mid-4k’s. Momentum is still at our back and so far most owners are resisting the urge to sell.

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