Bull or Bear Market? (Week of July 28)

Each weekend, I study market behavior using sentiment and technical indicators. The goal is to use clues, observation, and indicators to determine if we are in a bullish, bearish, or sideways market environment.

RELEASED: Understanding Options (McGraw-Hill, 2E), Understanding Stocks (McGraw-Hill, 2E), and Predict the Next Bull or Bear Market and Win (Adams Media): http://bit.ly/1bl0ZNk

My latest MarketWatch column just posted (July 28): http://goo.gl/IIFBtP

 

AAII survey (7/20/2014)

29.6% Bullish. 29.9% Bearish. 40.4% Neutral.

Bearish: If sentiment is over 50% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 50% bearish.

 

Investors Intelligence (7/22/2014)

56.5% Bullish. 17.2% Bearish

Bearish: If sentiment is over 60% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 60% bearish.

 

VIX: 12.69 (on 7/25/2014)

Bearish: Less than or near 12.

Bullish: Greater than or near 40.

 

Moving Averages (daily): S&P 500 is above its 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages, and pointing down.

Bearish (Short-term Downtrend): Index crosses below 50-, 100-, or 200-day MA.

Bullish (Short-term Uptrend): Index crosses over 50-day, 100-day, and 200-day MA.

 

MACD (S&P 500): MACD is above zero line, and below its red 9-day signal line. (Note: I’m using the settings, 19,39,9, recommended by Gerald Appel, MACD’s creator.)

Bearish: MACD line crosses below 9-day (red or gray) signal line. MACD line (black line) crosses below zero line.

Bullish: MACD line crosses above 9-day signal line. MACD line crosses above zero line.

 

RSI (S&P 500): RSI is at 55 (on 7/25/2014)

Overbought (i.e. Bearish): When RSI rises to 70 or above.

Oversold (i.e. Bullish): When RSI falls to 30 or below.

Note: RSI can remain overbought or oversold for extended time periods.

 

Bonds: U.S. 10-year yield is at 2.47% (on 7/25/2014)

Note: 3.0% or higher is significant (consider selling bond funds as yield rises). 3.5% or higher and risk increases (for bondholders).

 

New Highs: Only 93 NYSE stocks out of 3,234 made new 52-week highs as of July 25th. (There were 46 new lows.)

 

Analysis: The sentiment readings are nearly the same as last week, that is, overbought. The pros and financial writers seem more bullish than retail investors, who don’t want to get burned again. The trend is still up but cracks are starting to form if you know what to look for. Basically, the market continues to crawl higher but with less and less energy and breadth. This divergence is flashing red danger signs, especially to experienced traders. Nevertheless, anything is possible this week as GDP and employment numbers are released along with Fed comments, if any. There are many market-moving events so keep your seatbelt fastened.

Opinion: As expected, it was a rocky week and a rocky ending. On the bright side, it could have been a lot worse, but as usual, the damage was contained by the buy-on-the-dippers, who seem to be using algos to contain the damage. Just when the market appears to crack, powerful buyers enter to buy on the dip. It’s a pattern that has played out for months. I’d love to know who is behind the buying.

A number of market moving events will occur this week, including the Fed meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday is also the release of the GDP, which should move the market. And on Friday is the July employment report. In addition, during the week there will be reports on manufacturing, auto sales, home prices, and consumer prices.

Because of all the information coming out this week, it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Keep your eye on the rallies. If the news is good, and there is a rally, watch to see if it’s strong, and if it carries over into the next day. Most important, if the market cannot rally strongly on good news, that is a clue the market is tired and heavy.

As I’ve written in the past, I believe this bull market is coming to an end, but I can’t predict when. All I can do is wait and watch for clues. It is possible for the S&P to melt up another 5 or 7 percent, perhaps to 2000 or even 2100. It will take a lot of energy for it to make it that far, but it’s possible. It could happen with help from the Fed and fantastic government numbers. And yet, it also wouldn’t take much to send this market south, and quickly.

What would surprise me the most? If the market was flat. If my instincts are right, this will be a week for traders. This week, be a stock detective, and look for clues. I’ll be looking for intraday reversals, two-day selloffs, or perhaps one last parabolic meltup if the housing, auto, or GDP numbers are spectacular. I’m also looking to see how the market reacts to the data, and what the Fed will say so the whole thing doesn’t unravel.

 

* Note: These signals are not actionable trades, but only guidelines. Always use other indicators, and your own research, to confirm before buying or selling.

Bull or Bear Market? (Week of July 21)

Each weekend, I study market behavior using sentiment and technical indicators. The goal is to use clues, observation, and indicators to determine if we are in a bullish, bearish, or sideways market environment.

RELEASED: Understanding Options (McGraw-Hill, 2E), Understanding Stocks (McGraw-Hill, 2E), and Predict the Next Bull or Bear Market and Win (Adams Media): http://bit.ly/1bl0ZNk

My latest MarketWatch article: http://goo.gl/SJuzAW

 

AAII survey (7/16/2014)

32.4% Bullish. 28.5% Bearish. 39.2% Neutral.

Bearish: If sentiment is over 50% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 50% bearish.

 

Investors Intelligence (7/15/2014)

56.6% Bullish. 15.1% Bearish

Bearish: If sentiment is over 60% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 60% bearish.

 

VIX: 12.06 (on 7/18/2014)

Bearish: Less than or near 12.

Bullish: Greater than or near 40.

 

Moving Averages (daily): S&P 500 is above its 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages, and pointing sideways.

Bearish (Short-term Downtrend): Index crosses below 50-, 100-, or 200-day MA.

Bullish (Short-term Uptrend): Index crosses over 50-day, 100-day, and 200-day MA.

 

MACD (S&P 500): MACD is above zero line, and below its red 9-day signal line. (Note: I’m using the settings, 19,39,9, recommended by Gerald Appel, MACD’s creator.)

Bearish: MACD line crosses below 9-day (red or gray) signal line. MACD line (black line) crosses below zero line.

Bullish: MACD line crosses above 9-day signal line. MACD line crosses above zero line.

 

RSI (S&P 500): RSI is at 58 (on 7/18/2014)

Overbought (i.e. Bearish): When RSI rises to 70 or above.

Oversold (i.e. Bullish): When RSI falls to 30 or below.

Note: RSI can remain overbought or oversold for extended time periods.

 

Bonds: U.S. 10-year yield is at 2.48% (on 7/18/2014)

Note: 3.0% or higher is significant (consider selling bond funds as yield rises). 3.5% or higher and risk increases (for bondholders).

 

Money flows out of domestic stock mutual funds: Week of July 16: $1.o billion (Source: ICI)

Note: The week before, $8.8 billion was sold. Therefore, the selling outflow has been reduced during the last week.

 

Analysis: Because of the airplane disaster, the market sold off midweek but recovered. Sentiment is still high but not extreme, except for the VIX, which reflects investor complacency. The market moved into a short-term sideways market, which is why the indicators are indecisive. It’s anyone’s guess where the market will go during the week according to the indicators.

Opinion: It’s a dangerous world and a dangerous market. Volatility returned to the market for a day because of the tragedy in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East. By Friday, the market had recovered most of its losses but on anemic volume.

The week began with Janet putting on a good show, although she did receive some tough questions, including from Elizabeth Warren, who left Yellen almost speechless.  Most people hope the Fed knows what it’s doing, but if they don’t, there will be hell to pay.

A good sentiment indicator for me are the negative emails I receive and the comments that are posted. For example, one gentleman wrote and said: “Why don’t you admit that you have been wrong about the market?” In my opinion, these are the type of emails you receive at market tops. The higher the market climbs, the more people believe it will never go down. Some bears are capitulating now, which is also what happens at market tops.

Here’s what I say to those who believe I am wrong: I might be early, but I am not wrong (not yet, that is). This is a dangerous market that is topping out. I cannot predict when it will reverse direction and plunge, but it will. It could be weeks or months. Because of the Fed’s experimental strategies, the market bubble could still grow bigger. The market may experience one final meltup that will force short-sellers to throw in the towel and give up. (Obviously, it’s always possible we could skip the final meltup and have a meltdown.)

As I observe the market, I see many danger signs. First, as the S&P 500 climbs, the number of stocks making new highs is decreasing. That is a red flag. Second, the decreasing volume is another danger sign. Volume is like gasoline for a car. If the market runs out of gas (i.e. volume), eventually it will stop climbing up the hill. However, that could take a long time. Because the Fed is still helping the market, it’s too dangerous to actively short. The most prudent choice is to move to the sidelines in cash. Suggesting that people move to cash infuriates some investors, which is why I get angry emails.

I don’t mind getting out of the market early and making 0 percent. But that is a choice each investor or trader has to make. If you can’t stand to make zero for a few months, then sitting and waiting in cash will be unacceptable to you. But I know that I’m in good company. Financier Bernard Baruch said that he made his fortune by “selling too soon.” And Jesse Livermore said that sitting and waiting for “snapping time” is very difficult for most people.

I also remember in early 2009 when many investors had been wiped out and vowed never to invest in the market again. They were afraid of more losses. I was not using many indicators then but others were. The indicators said that the market was oversold and was a buying opportunity. Few believed the indicators and followed their emotions: fear.

I might be early with my warnings but I’d rather be safe than sorry. A bear market is inevitable, and it’s coming to a stock market near you. As always, I am looking for signals and clues. The first clue is a two-day selloff on higher volume. Until that happens, you might as well go fishing. That day will come eventually, either in a rare crash or a 3 to 5 percent pullback (for starters). I am waiting for “snapping time,” which is the point when the market cracks enough so that the uptrend is disrupted. By then, almost everyone will have noticed something bad has happened. If you agree with me, all you can do is sit and wait, and watch.

Bottom line: Be patient and observe from the sidelines. If you must be in the market, manage risk.

 

* Note: These signals are not actionable trades, but only guidelines. Always use other indicators, and your own research, to confirm before buying or selling.

Bull or Bear Market? (Week of July 14)

Each weekend, I study market behavior using sentiment and technical indicators. The goal is to use clues, observation, and indicators to determine if we are in a bullish, bearish, or sideways market environment.

RELEASED: Understanding Options (McGraw-Hill, 2E), Understanding Stocks (McGraw-Hill, 2E), and Predict the Next Bull or Bear Market and Win (Adams Media): http://bit.ly/1bl0ZNk

My latest MarketWatch article: http://goo.gl/SJuzAW

 

AAII survey (7/9/2014)

37.6% Bullish. 28.7% Bearish.

Bearish: If sentiment is over 50% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 50% bearish.

 

Investors Intelligence (7/8/2014)

60.6% Bullish. 15.2% Bearish

Bearish: If sentiment is over 60% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 60% bearish.

 

VIX: 12.08 (on 7/11/2014)

Bearish: Less than or near 12.

Bullish: Greater than or near 40.

 

Moving Averages (daily): S&P 500 is above its 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages, and pointing sideways.

Bearish (Short-term Downtrend): Index crosses below 50-, 100-, or 200-day MA.

Bullish (Short-term Uptrend): Index crosses over 50-day, 100-day, and 200-day MA.

 

MACD (S&P 500): MACD is above zero line, and below its red 9-day signal line. (Note: I’m using the settings, 19,39,9, recommended by Gerald Appel, MACD’s creator.)

Bearish: MACD line crosses below 9-day (red or gray) signal line. MACD line (black line) crosses below zero line.

Bullish: MACD line crosses above 9-day signal line. MACD line crosses above zero line.

 

RSI (S&P 500): RSI is at 57.98 (on 7/11/2014)

Overbought (i.e. Bearish): When RSI rises to 70 or above.

Oversold (i.e. Bullish): When RSI falls to 30 or below.

Note: RSI can remain overbought or oversold for extended time periods.

 

Bonds: U.S. 10-year yield is at 2.52% (on 7/11/2014)

Note: 3.0% or higher is significant (consider selling bond funds as yield rises). 3.5% or higher and risk increases (for bondholders).

 

Money flows out of domestic stock mutual funds: Week of July 2: $8.8 billion (Source: ICI)

Note: The week before, only $1.3 billion was sold. There was a significant increase in selling during the last week.

 

Analysis: Sentiment is still on the frothy side, as reflected in Investors Intelligence and the VIX. Other sentiment indicators such as RSI retreated on last week’s pullback. In addition, the uptrend was temporarily halted. This is earnings week, options expiration Friday, and Janet is speaking on Tuesday. The bulls are hopeful that all three will guide the market higher. Prudent traders are still on the sidelines.

Opinion: Because of the above three events, this market has a bullish bias. On the other hand, if earnings disappoint, geopolitical problems escalate, and Janet’s soothing words don’t work, the market could continue selling off. If there is a selloff, we’d be closer to snapping time, i.e. a pivot point that can change the market trend. Right now, it’s too early to confirm, so once again, it’s best to sit tight and wait for evidence.

For the first time in a long time, volatility returned to the market last week. The market has been in a long, boring slumber for months. And for one day, when the market plunged 180 points intraday, short-term traders and day traders woke up. It’s not unusual to have volatility. In fact, a “normal” stock market has lots of volatility. The unusual part is that volatility has been sucked out of the market, which is why investors have become so complacent.

I have no doubt that the market is going through a topping out period. What is unknown right now is when the market rolls over. Although overly bullish investors are blinded by the Fed and the current uptrend, this market will enter a bear market in the future. All we can do is look for clues when that will happen. Because of the actions of the Fed, the bull market uptrend has gone on a lot longer than is typical. But it will end one day, but not yet. I repeat: The uptrend is still intact as I write this but it will end either with a whimper or a bang.

A number of money managers have appeared on TV and said that they wouldn’t be surprised by a 10 percent pullback, which will be followed by a stronger bull market. First, no one can predict how much the market will plunge. And second, after a severe pullback or a major correction, it could be a long while before another bull market appears.

For an idea of what could happen to the stock market, look at the gold ETF, GLD. It was in a long-term bull market when no one wanted to pay a penny more, so it topped out near $180. And now GLD is at $128 with more room to fall. One day GLD will be a fantastic buying opportunity, but not yet. I would not be surprised to see SPX develop a similar chart pattern.

Bottom line: This is an important week. Because of Janet speaking, options expiration Friday, earnings week, and the bullish financial media, the odds favor the bulls this week. However, if the selloff continues from last week because of geopolitical tensions, more failed banks, or poor earnings, all bets are off.

 

* Note: These signals are not actionable trades, but only guidelines. Always use other indicators, and your own research, to confirm before buying or selling.

Bull or Bear Market? (Week of July 7)

Each weekend, I study market behavior using sentiment and technical indicators. The goal is to use clues, observation, and indicators to determine if we are in a bullish, bearish, or sideways market environment.

RELEASED: Understanding Options (McGraw-Hill, 2E), Understanding Stocks (McGraw-Hill, 2E), and Predict the Next Bull or Bear Market and Win (Adams Media): http://bit.ly/1bl0ZNk

My latest MarketWatch article: http://goo.gl/SJuzAW

 

AAII survey (7/2/2014)

38.5% Bullish. 22.4% Bearish. 39.1% Neutral.

Bearish: If sentiment is over 50% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 50% bearish.

 

Investors Intelligence (7/2/2014)

57.6% Bullish. 16.1% Bearish

Bearish: If sentiment is over 60% bullish.

Bullish: If sentiment is over 60% bearish.

 

VIX: 10.32 (on 7/5/2014)

Bearish: Less than or near 12.

Bullish: Greater than or near 40.

 

Moving Averages (daily): S&P 500 is above its 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages, and pointing up.

Bearish (Short-term Downtrend): Index crosses below 50-, 100-, or 200-day MA.

Bullish (Short-term Uptrend): Index crosses over 50-day, 100-day, and 200-day MA.

 

MACD (S&P 500): MACD is above zero line, and above its red 9-day signal line. (Note: I’m using the settings, 19,39,9, recommended by Gerald Appel, MACD’s creator.)

Bearish: MACD line crosses below 9-day (red or gray) signal line. MACD line (black line) crosses below zero line.

Bullish: MACD line crosses above 9-day signal line. MACD line crosses above zero line.

 

RSI (S&P 500): RSI is at 73.62 (on 7/5/2014)

Overbought (i.e. Bearish): When RSI rises to 70 or above.

Oversold (i.e. Bullish): When RSI falls to 30 or below.

Note: RSI can remain overbought or oversold for extended time periods.

 

Bonds: U.S. 10-year yield is at 2.65% (on 7/5/2014).

Note: 3.0% or higher is significant (consider selling bond funds as yield rises). 3.5% or higher and risk increases (for bondholders).

 

Analysis: Just like last week, sentiment indicators are frothy and overbought, which means the bulls think the market will not go down for a few years. Since human nature never changes, eventually the market comes back to earth, and sometimes very abruptly. Technical indicators are still showing the market is in an uptrend. When we look deeper, we see that as the market goes higher, fewer leading stocks are participating. This is a bearish signal. In addition, more Dow stocks are deteriorating, another red flag. To the inexperienced, the market appears strong. In reality, there are cracks.

Opinion: Now that the Dow just went past 17,000, it will be hard to convince most investors of the dangers that lie ahead. More long-time bears have thrown in the towel and given up on their bearish positions. Guess what? This is exactly what happens at market tops!

I know that it is hard to believe the market will ever go down. The cheerleading media, the Fed, Wall Street, and everyone connected to the financial markets are doing everything possible to make you believe the market goes in only one direction: up. They’re wrong. The market will go down, and it will happen sooner than most people think.

If you don’t believe me, try and remember January 2009. That was when the financial world seemed to be over and no one wanted to invest in the market. It was hard to convince anyone to buy at Dow 6,500. The stock market seemed like it would never go up again.

And now, five years later, we’re in a totally different environment. Like the game of Three-Card Monte, while the market reaches all-time highs, leading stocks are selling off, stocks making new highs are shrinking, and the market internals are deteriorating. I know that it is nearly impossible to convince anyone that the bull market might end, but it will, and sooner rather than later. It’s true the Fed has helped the market higher with QE and other financial tools, but that will end.

If you want to play it safe, stay in cash and wait. Do not pay attention to the clowns wearing party hats. They will be the most shocked and amazed when the market turns against them, as it always does. That’s when they say, “Who could have known?” And after the market cracks for the first time, many ultra bullish investors will pretend they were always bearish. Human nature never changes.

Because the market is still going up and might for a little while longer, it’s safer to wait for a bearish pivot or inflection point. At some point in the near future, the market will crack, even if a little. When that happens, I will let you know. Right now, only the most aggressive traders are shorting, and they are feeling some pain (I also have a few short positions but am very comfortable holding them). But the most prudent strategy is to wait on the sidelines and be ready to pounce.

This bull market is nearing an end, and I admit it’s taking longer than I anticipated. Still, the S&P is up 7.42 percent year to date. As I’ve said many times before, be patient and prudent. In my opinion, the downside risk is much greater than what you can potentially make on the upside. Making $0 in cash isn’t ideal, but it’s a lot better than losing money.

Bottom line: Be prepared for some market fireworks in the near future.

 

* Note: These signals are not actionable trades, but only guidelines. Always use other indicators, and your own research, to confirm before buying or selling.