Securities Research Services

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

Trading should be extremely light today as the session is sandwiched in between a weekend and a holiday. There is little insensitive to show up today, so most will not.

We suggest that subscribers also take the day off, rest up and go out this evening and have a great time ringing in 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Don't Be A Fool

As we approach the end of the year it seems like as good of time as any to review some basic truths about stock trading.

One basic truth is that no one, no matter how smart or experienced, knows what will happen in the future. The best that can be achieved by anyone is a proper understanding of probabilities and proper action based on current probabilities.

Jesse Livermore once noted:

There arc times when one should speculate, and just as surely there are times when one should not speculate. There is a very true adage: "You can beat a horse race, but you can't beat the races." So it is with market operations. There are times when money can be made investing and speculating in stocks, but money cannot consistently be made trading every day or every week during the year. Only the foolhardy will try it. It just is not in the cards and cannot be done.

This is concisely put. In certain market environments probabilities offer better than random tradable advantages and money can be extracted from the market consistently and quite profitably by those who can read the advantages and who use proper risk management tactics.

In other market environments, however, there simply are no tradable advantages and probabilities promise nothing more than random price action. In random trading environments losses are almost guaranteed to occur because trade set ups tend to fail in choppy, random markets.

The current market environment is trendless. In a trendless environment trade set ups will just not behave the same way they will in a trending environment.

It would seem intuitive to look for ranging stocks and play the range in this type of environment, but the problem is, past performance is just not a predictor of future probability in a trendless market, so even ranges tend to be unreliable.

The solution to this problem is discipline. Heed the warning that traders like Livermore offer: " money cannot consistently be made trading every day or every week during the year. Only the foolhardy will try it." Stay sidelined when there are no advantages.

A trend will eventually emerge again and when it does, you will be able to take advantage of it only if you didn't drain your trading account trying to be in the market each and every day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Focus on Highly Select Areas

Trading is dull and everyone knows, or at least should know that you don't short a dull market. Opportunities on the long side can be found if you focus on the right sectors and a handful of stocks that are catching a bid.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Rest of the Week Can Go Either Way

Volume on Monday was understandably low given that it was a short session prior to the holiday. Look for volume levels to remain light until next week when the money managers return from their extended holiday.

Meanwhile, bullish sentiment has been spiking to dangerous levels even as prices have been climbing on decreasing volume. This is a warning sign that a near term correction may be coming to clear out the stops.

That said, so far the bulls remain in control of the larger trend. Let's take a look at the QID, which is an ETF that trades counter to the NASDAQ 100-based QQQQ.

Sometimes it helps to turn a chart upside down to better see who is in control of the trend. Looking at the QID is the same as turning the QQQQ upside down.

As you can see, the bulls are clearly in control as sellers of the QID have been active at resistance:

Probabilities then are that the market is slated to go higher in the intermediate term.

The near term (next couple of days) is more questionable, however. With sentiment figures turning overly bullish, we would expect to see overly aggressive longs pay a painful price for their lack of patience. In the weekly chart above the QID can turn either way here. A retest of the falling trend (rising QQQQ trend) is at least as much of a possibility as a break out to the downside (QQQQ breakout).

The message here, stay patient here and only buy pullbacks; don't be a price chaser.

Longer term: When we move into the new year the end of the year mark ups could potentially lead to a broader degree of selling. This market has been horrible for long term investors and the outlook does not promise to get better in the near term. Be highly skeptical of any upside breakouts here, they may in fact just be bull traps.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Strong Rally, But Skepticism Warranted

This rally may be just a late year holiday run. However, looking at the weekly QQQQ chart it looks like this rally could have legs. The real test will be whether it can take out December highs.

It seems likely at this point that it will. Volume may be an issue. It already decreased on Friday. This coming week volume is sure to be low as it always is during the last week of December. This will make it difficult to draw any conclusions about this market.

The last two years the market has rallied into early January and then turned back hard as selling kicked in. This year may be setting up the same scenario, so it is important to be skeptical of any move and to use trailing stops on open positions.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buy Signal Kicks Off Santa Rally

In yesterday's report we showed how the QQQQ was at a pivotal point of support. It had to either break down or break higher. Whichever way it went, would likely decide the coming trend.

Yesterday it broke firmly higher on strong volume. This offers us a reliable and strong buy signal.

November and most of this month were teaser months. They put the market into a bearish mood and took shares from weak handed players. We don't know if the market can make a strong sustainable move out of this area of consolidation, but so far it looks like the bulls are regaining their leadership.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Changes Are Coming

The market typically moves from periods of inactivity to periods of strong activity. Over the past seven weeks, the market has seen one sharp three day drop followed by a weak, choppy, trendless environment, as can be seen in the QQQQ below.

Unless you were aggressively positioned for a short by bucking the trend and guessing the top in early November, you haven't had a sustainable trend to exploit since October.

Those with crystal balls called every turn in the chart above, but the rest of us have either just stuck to the day trade trends or have seen their positions fail to gain traction as strong moves reverse from day to day.

But the good news here is, as stated above, markets move from periods of inactivity, to periods of strong activity.

The QQQQ is at a pivotal point here. It has trend support at its current level. If it can rally from here and move up to take out December highs, we could get a sustainable trend going again.

If, on the other hand, it breaks down here, we could potentially see a bearish trend develop into the new year. Either way, this period of inactivity is drawing to a close and everyone should look for trading conditions to once again provide a trend that is exploitable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy

The indices look to be turning the corner here, but don't be fooled. This masks the fact that the majority of the charts out there are just plain sloppy.

Don't forget that this is options expiration week. We doubt very much that stocks are going to turn around and march back up the slippery slope they have been sliding down. Sellers are likely to play games with any moves higher, so be careful, don't chase prices, keep order sizes small, and look for the one or two obscure stocks that might be bucking the non existent trend.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Turn Coming

Yesterday's selling concluded with a 70-80% down day for all three major exchanges. Sentiment figures spiked to overly bearish levels and twice as many dollars found their way into puts than calls. These types of figures are typical before a market turn.

Add to this the fact that we are near one of the most bullish seasons of the year and it makes sense to start putting together a list of potential short squeeze candidates.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cash Remains King of the Hill

Running through scans over the weekend we get the impression that there is potential for another panic situation setting up. Sellers are getting pretty desperate in the retail and banking sectors, among others. Very aggressive shorts might work here. If we were in a true bear market it might make sense to get aggressive on the short side here. The problem is, we are not in a true confirmed bear market. In fact, seasonality would indicate that selling is close to exhausted and that we are more likely setting up for a strong reversal to the upside.

We noted last Friday that short positions taken here have great potential for trapping hapless latecomers, squeezing them as this random market suddenly reverses higher again.

This week options expire right in front of the holiday weekend. Games are going to get played. And since the largest number of positions are building up on the short side by those who have aggressively chased prices, it is most likely the short side that is going to feel the greatest amount of pain at some point this week.

We are itchy to put our cash to work, but conditions for doing so today are at least as bad as they were on Friday; and probably worse.

This market will give us something good over the next few days and as we sit in cash on the sidelines, it is our bet that the market is going to give us a really tremendous buying opportunity.

We know it's hard to be patient, but take another day and let others assume the phenomenal levels of risk that continue to build. When the risk takers pay a price for their impatience, then we will be able to step back in and reap the rewards for staying disciplined in a very tough market.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cash Is A Good Idea Over The Weekend

Market conditions are tough; as tough as we have seen. The battle for the trend continues and trading is extremely choppy and arbitrary.

Stocks appear to be under distribution, but getting aggressively short is not an option yet. Shorts who push their luck are likely to get pinned against the wall in a Santa Rally, which remains a possibility; perhaps a probability.

Meanwhile, long positions are very vulnerable and failure rates on the long side of the trade are at least as likely to fail as they were last month.

So, what to do?

There are some good reliable downtrends that can be shorted. However, it is important to short strength and not weakness. This is a market that makes price chasers pay the price of stopped out trades.

We need to wait until prices come back to us. Yesterday we attempted a couple of shorts, but the prices moved down and not up into our entry areas. It remains highly likely that prices, even if they turn lower today, will be coming back up to areas where short positions can be put on.

Yesterday we closed out the last of our trades. In this market it is healthy to sit out the weekend in cash. Next week is a new ball game and if we wait, we will get the right set ups at the right times.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Primary Bear Market?

Talk about extreme volatility…

What to make of this market? Traders are getting jerked around like rag dolls here. Over the past month we have struggled to gain any kind of traction. In the past when we have struggled like this, hindsight has shown that we were in a downtrending market during the struggle.

Recognizing the trend when the market is in its initial stages of a downswing is one of the most difficult endeavors in the art of market analysis. We admit, we struggle in this area.

What others are saying:

Don Worden wrote in his report today: ” The market demonstrated overwhelming zeal in delivering its message. No hem-hawing around needed! The practical and safe assumption is that we are in a primary bear market."

The Kirk Report: "Be defensive, hold lots of cash, don't be complacent with your longs, protect your assets, and if you're so inclined, look for strength to short."

Alpha Trends: *summarized* There is a huge battle for control of the trend taking place on the S&P 500. $149 on the SPY is the battle ground.

How the fundamentals come into play:

We are not sure we are in a primary bear market as Worden suggests. Brian at Alpha Trends seems to have pinpointed the situation best when he shows that there is a strong battle taking place for control of the trend. Neither side has taken control yet and the reason why is due to the fact that the market is faced with a new fundamental situation.

The 1/4 point rate cut disappointed the market. There is no doubt about that. The market has determined that the credit crisis will not be eased by such a narrow cut in rates and it has projected that it expects a recession. The Fed, however, has offered up a new approach to the situation. Instead of further rate cuts, the Fed is offering to inject liquidity into the market through other means; means that are as yet untested.

The extreme volatility we are seeing may in fact be a jostling from long to short as Kirk suggests. Or, it could be that the market is trying to factor in the unknowns surrounding Fed liquidity injections.

The bottom line:

As of Tuesday's reaction to the Fed, long side trends are in question. We have continued to see some strength in the strongest sectors, such as Ag Chem, but this strength is not very trustworthy at this point.

Meanwhile, the downtrends in home building, transportation, banking, and retail are showing signs of resumption.

This has been one of the hardest markets to trade in recent memory and holiday factors and the battle for control of the trend that is taking place at this moment don't make things any easier.

It's probably best to be sitting with a good amount of cash on the sideline here and put some money to work on the short side in the downtrending sectors on days of strength.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dip = Buying Opportunity

Over the past week prices have been climbing without pullback. This has been frustrating as a lot of good stocks have been going up without giving an opportunity to enter. It has been important to exercise discipline and refuse to chase the low volume rise.

Now that the market has sold off hard, predictably, after bullish exuberance and silly expectations for another 1/2 point rate cut, the market is giving bulls a second chance to enter the best stocks.

Today is probably a little early to step in and guess where the bottom of the pullback is going to be. Aggressive traders might try, but prudence would suggest standing to the side and looking for some sort of confirmation that support has solidified.

Bearish bias has returned, however, and a Santa rally into the end of the year is sure to cause the bears pain once again. So keep your powder dry here as this dip is the opportunity we have been waiting for.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fed Fireworks

The Fed meets today and will release their monthly volatility wave on the market at 2:15 p.m. Look for prices to drift on low volume right up until the release. At release time, the usual fireworks will begin as huge bets are made in reaction to what the minutes mean or don't mean.

The focus today will be on language that indicates further rate cuts, or not. Speculation is sure to be rampant and the first move will likely be faded.

This is all just very normal Fed day stuff. Use the dips to buy the strongest stocks, for once the dust settles, the trend should resume.

Monday, December 10, 2007

History Repeats

July and August of this year the market corrected hard back to the long term uptrend that has been in tact over the past 5 or more years. Following the bounce off the uptrend, in September the market had created an inverted head and shoulders pattern on all major indices. Likewise, many stocks that looked set for further declines in August, had by September and October followed the broader market and created their own inverted head and shoulders patterns as well.

The reason? The Fed had stepped in to bail out the banks.

In November bears started to show their teeth once again as the banks pulled the S&P down and took the NASDAQ trend off its rails. This led to a steep decline back to the long term uptrend again.

Now, here we are again. The Fed is stepping back in and the set up is virtually the same. While major indices don't have a head and shoulders pattern to play off here, we are seeing the same sectors that ran hard in October set up with exactly the same patterns now that we are in early December.

History does indeed repeat herself and sector strength is repeating itself here. If you pay attention, you can profit from the repeat.

Big Cap Tech, Chem, and Industrial Metals are all catching a serious bid here.

The run up last week came on decreasing volume, so we should get a dip buying opportunity this week.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pay Attention To Where Smart Money Is At

After a very tough month of November, bulls are now back in control and the strong sectors that gave us such a great profit this past fall are once again heating up for more gains.

Like this autumn's rally, it is important to be choosy about where to put your money to work. Stocks in the middle are still prone to choppy conditions; especially with the low volume nature that has thus far exemplified this rally.

Making money in the market is counterintuitive to natural logic. Stocks like MOS are overbought, yet this is where the bid is catching all the dips and where funds are putting their money in order to bolster their bottom line as the quarter runs to a close on December 31.

We can take advantage of this situation by paying attention to where institutional money is likely to support these stocks and entering with them in the high flyers. Every market environment has a theme. The theme of this market is to buy high and sell higher in the areas that the institutions are paying the most attention to.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Market Misdirect Sets Up Powerful Buy Signal

The market threw us a curve ball this week as technicals pointed to a breakdown. It can be very frustrating when the market throws a misdirection at you, but it is important to not let that take you out of the game. These types of reversals tend to turn into strong trends in the new direction.

We are already seeing signs of a strong trend developing again. The same old culprits that we profited from so heavily in September and October are once again breaking out to new highs and showing a great deal of momentum building. These include agricultural chemicals and metals and mining.

So yes, yesterday's stop outs were painful. Nevertheless, they free us up to play the true market direction, which revealed itself yesterday. Now we can once again put our money to work in the sectors that have been offering the greatest profits all year. We suspect that this week's losses will be regained quickly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Don't Get Chopped Up Here

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. This has always been good advice to follow. Likewise, if you don't have anything meaningful to say, ...

The best we can offer today is that market conditions are extremely choppy. There are no good trends to follow and a catalyst to move the market may not occur until next week. It's best to stay patient here and wait for better set ups. Market predictability is an oxymoron in this environment. It is here that trading accounts get chopped up, so it's best to stand aside.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Downtrends Resume

Yesterday we noted that the longer term trend in the Nasdaq sector was still up and that shorting the broader market was not a good idea. Nevertheless, buying the broader market is not a good idea here either.

Meanwhile, we are seeing downtrends in the weakest sectors showing strong signs of exhaustion after last week's bounce. Technical conditions are ripe for a continuation of the downtrends in retail, banking, transportation, and housing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Weakness Coming, Then Strength

Traders start off the week with few advantages. The market is quite likely to see weakness early this week. Nevertheless, the intermediate bias of the market should now be up due to the fact that the Fed is likely to lower rates yet again.

If you are a daytrader you should probably be putting on short positions over the next few days. If your timeframe is anything longer, then it's probably best to stand aside and wait for the long side to set up again before acting.

Here's why:

Using the QQQQ as our basis, note that the price is near term overbought and that the open gap below is quite vulnerable.

Swing traders might aggressively short today and hold for the gap fill, but the probabilities on the trade are less than strong. Trading rules 101 dictate that you don't trade against the trend. Below we will show how it is quite clear that shorting the market here is trading against the stronger, longer term trend.

Take a look at the QID, the ETF that trades inversely to the QQQQ (when the QQQQ goes down, the QID goes up).

It is clear that the QID is in a long term downtrend, which by default means that the QQQQ is in a long term uptrend.

So, once again, if you wish to be ultra aggressive here, open some shorts here. We believe, however, that any short positions are vulnerable to wide intraday price swings and that the smart money will be waiting to buy the next dip for a rally that is likely to last into the end of the year.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rate Cuts vs. The Open Gap

Don't fight the Fed seems to be the mantra that we all need to heed at this point. The blue chip sectors have some major repairs that need to happen before they can be trusted again, but the NASDAQ is in great shape here and should offer some excellent long side set ups once it builds a bit better base of support. This is necessary as the move off the lows this week puts the sector in a bit of a near term unstable condition that is vulnerable to sharp, stop-gleaning downswings.

We will need to watch the financials for a clue as to how far to expect this oversold rally will be able to go. If the financials lag here, it will set up the S&P 500 for another steep decline once it runs into overhead resistance.

And, most importantly, everyone should keep in mind that we have open gaps below left this week as the market rallied on rate cut rumors. The open gap in April didn't matter for some months. It remains to be seen if this time the same will be true. Tread carefully until we can be sure.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fed Whipsaws Shorts - Again!

On Tuesday we wrote: "Unless the Fed steps in with another surprise rate cut, the market is likely to continue spiraling lower."

Indeed, before the market opened yesterday a Fed board member made public comments that indicated future rate cuts were all but assured. Then later in the day the Fed showed the market that they are aware of risks to the economy here.

This was all the market need to bull doze short positions and rally.

We were caught heavily wrong-footed and suffered stop outs on positions opened the day before.

It's tough to be wrong in the market, but being wrong is a reality and it is how one handles reality that separates the winners from the losers. Winners quickly admit they were wrong and adjust to the changing conditions.

Right now the market is very tricky. Even though short positions were hit hard yesterday there are no guarantees that prices are going to continue to rally to new highs. In fact, the run up over the past two days is very unstable and we are likely to see much, if not most of it retraced before prices move significantly higher.

As we have been saying for weeks now, the broad market is to be avoided here. Focus on shorting rallies in the weak downtrends and focus on buying only in the few strong uptrend that remain. Everything in the middle is just a mixed back that is sure to chop up the trading accounts of those who get sucked in to the false set ups that are prevalent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Questions Than Answers

Yesterday's session left us with more questions than answers. The QQQQ refused to break down despite technical signs of distribution.

A sentiment rally is certainly a possibility here, which can squeeze some short positions.

Shorts in housing should be added to if prices bounce here.

Other than that, there isn't much to go on until we see how prices respond today. Europe and Asia are down slightly at the time of this writing, so we don't have a clue how today's session is going to shape up. It's best to stay very defensive here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What We Said Yesterday, Bulls Didn't Step Up

Despite the very oversold technical condition, the market continues to see heavy distribution. The number of sectors that have spun down into 52-week lows has increased dramatically and the QQQQ trend is in big trouble.

Unless the Fed steps in with another surprise rate cut, the market is likely to continue spiraling lower.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wait For Confirmation Before Stepping Into the Fray

Volume was extremely weak last week due to holiday trading. Likewise, Friday's 1/2 day doesn't offer us much of a clue as to what to expect as we move into the end of November. Trade set ups should be eyed with suspicion until we see how the market behaves today now that traders are back from their extended weekends.

Today is just not a good day to be stepping into the fray and making new bets. As we have stated so many times here, let others assume the risk during times of uncertainty.

The charts: The NASDAQ continues to outperform the financially heavy S&P and Dow indices. Last week, in fact, the horn was tooted indicating that a Dow Theory sell signal was incurred as the Dow index closed below its August lows.

In general, we don't think the charts alone offer us much to go on here.

The bullish case: Stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture, we believe that a bullish case has merit though. The charts alone may not tell us much, but if you factor in charts, sentiment data, and seasonality, and insider behavior a bullish picture begins to emerge.

Sentiment readings are at extremely bearish levels. Given that we have just endured a huge sell off and are under oversold technical conditions, overly bearish sentiment can only be read as bullish here.

Insider behavior, according to Mark Hulbert, has turned extremely bullish over the past couple of weeks as the markets were selling back to support:

It turns out that insiders in recent weeks have dramatically cut back the pace of their selling. In the Vickers Weekly Insider Report published Monday, Argus Research reported that in the week ended Friday, the average insider sold just 1.68 shares for every one share that he bought. That's well below the historical average for this ratio, and well below where the ratio stood as recently as early November, when it stood at 3.04-to-1.

Seasonal factors and end of the month factors add to the bullish case here as well. Typically this week is one of the more bullish weeks of the year and December tends to be bullish as well.

The bottom line: The bottom line here is that charts look ugly, but are oversold. Probabilities strongly favor the bulls if you factor in all available data pieces. Nevertheless, the smart move here is to let the market confirm or deny the bullish case here before acting. There is no need to put money to work until the market starts to move again. Right now it's consolidating, but when its next move starts, there will be plenty of time to position yourself to profit if you follow your entry rules and stay patient.

Here's what to look for before acting: The QQQQ, as seen below, is trading in a pennant pattern at uptrend support. This pattern can break either to the upside or the downside. We suspect it will break higher, but it's best to wait for the break before putting more money to work.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thin Holiday Trading Ahead This Week

Bottoming action continued yesterday as the market was able to pull off a hard intraday reversal toward the close.

Trading volume is sure to be very weak today as institutional traders take off early for the holiday. The market will be closed tomorrow and volume will be even more thin on Friday.

We suspect that the bottoming price action that we have seen over the past couple of days will continue until next Monday when the holiday week is behind us. It's best not to take any new positions this week and instead manage the positions you are now sitting on.

There is no sense in trying to force a trade in a semi-random trading environment.

Note: We will take Friday off this week in observance of the holiday. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Looking For a Snap Back

The transports have now firmly broken their uptrend, so while we can't call a bear market in the sector yet, the bull market is wounded severely.

Banking stocks still have some room before they reach an area where a bounce is likely, so we should continue to see erosion there as well.

The broader market is now at a place where it is likely to rally back up the hill. Sentiment is extremely bearish and indices are at support. It's a good combination for the bulls.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Year End Rally?

We will start off today with another quote from Jesse Livermore. Why? Because there is much wisdom to learn from a trader who was able to build his trading account to a one time size of $130M during the depression era.

Another mistake I made was to permit myself to turn completely bearish or bullish on the whole market, because one stock in some particular group had plainly reversed its course from the general market trend. Jesse Livermore

This is an apt description of the current market. Banks have broken down. Retail has broken down. Transports have broken down. Should we then be bearish on the entire market?

We believe that would be a mistake at this point.

Over the past year the QQQQ has pulled back sharply to the current rising support line it is now trading at no less than three times. Each time the crowd turned extremely bearish and each time preceding this one the QQQQ has inexplicably marched on to make fresh new highs.

The QQQQ is now at a place where we believe bulls are likely to make a stand once again. This is typically a very bullish time of the year as funds buy up stocks to enhance their bottom line for the end of the year. As such, we believe it makes sense to bet against a broad market break down at this time.

Shorts in the weak areas should continue to do well, but don't make the mistake of getting bearish on the broad market too early.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sentiment Should Keep A Floor - For Now...

The market is at a turning point. It is in an intermediate downtrend but is near primary support. Technically it is in bad shape, but sentiment is so poor here that a break of primary support does not appear to be likely just yet.

Essentially, the market does not offer a very good set up on either the long or short side at this point. It is better to focus only on the areas that offer a strong trend. Transports, banking and housing are in strong downtrends, so these are areas to focus on. It's best to avoid everything else as choppy trading is likely to persist.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Time To Stand On The Sidelines

We are a bit obsessed with Jesse Livermore quotes this week, so here's another one:

but money cannot consistently be made trading every day or every week during the year. Only the foolhardy will try it.

This pretty much sums up the market as we move into options expiration tomorrow. October conditions were ripe for trading. Early November was great for the diligent shorts who were frustrated by stop outs during the month of October. This week is only good for the brokers and market makers. Swing traders need to recognize that conditions are poor for their sport and step aside until conditions improve.

More games are sure to be played, more trading accounts will be chopped up in the choppy market, and more broker fees will be paid until the strongest trends reassert themselves. Do yourself a favor and stay out of the ring while there is a melee going on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Index prices bounced yesterday and breadth figures were good across the board as most stocks saw strength. Missing, of course was volume, but volume doesn't matter, right?

Well, volume kind of does matter.

Nevertheless, the QQQQ has room to bounce before its oversold. The SPY may begin struggling in this area but could potentially see intraday prices as high as $150 before it starts to run into serious selling again.

Don't forget that the intermediate trend is down here, so don't start thinking that it's safe to get back in the water yet as a retest of this week's lows in the next few days is a definite possibility.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bears Taking Over?

Jesse Livermore wrote:

"The average man doesn't wish to be told that it is a bull or a bear market. What he desires is to be told that specifically which particular stock to buy or sell. He wants to get something for nothing. He does not wish to work. He doesn't even wish to have to think."

This may be true, but today we are going to take a look at the possibility we are moving into a bear market nonetheless.

Over the past few years it has been safe to buy the dips after sell offs like we experienced last week. There are a couple of important warning signs that this time around may be different.

First, the Russell 2000 index has made a lower high and is threatening to break its multi year up trend and make a lower low:

Next, the Dow Transports have already broken down:

We are not in a primary bear market yet and it is important to not anticipate that we will enter one by making big bets to that effect. It is, however, a good idea to be aware of the possibility that "the trends they may be a changin' "

What would a bear market mean?

For investors bear markets are, well, a real bear. They erode equity in the buy and hold accounts in a big way.

Traders on the other hand should not fear the bear, but embrace the bear. Bear markets tend to be much more volatile allowing for big tradable bounces and quick spikes lower. If the bear market is not struggled against, it can add more profit to the trader's portfolio than a weak bull market like the one we have been in for several years now.

We'll end with another Livermore gem:

" in a major bear market it is safer to sell when the market is down 50 points from the top, than when it is down just 10. The reason is, at down 50, all support is gone, and those who bought the breaks have lost all hope, are demoralized, and in a leveraged market are at the point where they all must try to exit the same small door at the same time."

Monday, November 12, 2007

High Risk vs. Low Risk Ways To Play This Market

Last week the market saw the biggest sell off that the market has experienced in over two years.

Over the past year the market has recovered strongly after each one of these types of sell offs and has marched onward to new highs. We don't know if this time will be any different.

What we do know is that the oversold market is likely to bounce here. What we also know is that buying this bounce is very risky business for anyone other than day traders who close their positions before the market closes.

Right now buying this market is very risky. If it is going to recover, then let's let others assume the bulk of the risk while we focus on the least risky and most probable play in the market; shorting the strong downtrends that are now in tact.

Summary: Buying in anticipation of a full recovery is a very high risk strategy. Selling the downtrends in the transports, housing, and retail offers relatively low risk, high probabilitity rewards.

Those who ignore this are doomed to struggle with failed breakouts and support levels that refuse to hold.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Nasdaq Gets Slammed To The Mat

Yesterday the S&P clearly broke through support on an intraday basis. Yet by day's end, it had forced a recovery very near the support line.

The big story of the day was CSCO and the NASDAQ trend. Cisco Systems broke down in a big way and took with it big cap tech as the NASDAQ trend gave up the ghost. The break down here looks very similar to July 31 when money stream also shot sharply lower on a big sell day.

If indeed this is another July 31 in the making, we will be looking at a dead cat bounce over the next few days that should be used as an opportunity to start working into short positions getting ready for the next shoe to drop.

Unless the Fed comes to the rescue again, and we doubt they will this time, the market is likely to favor the short side for the next few weeks.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Double Top or Inverted Head and Shoulders?

Yesterday we saw another 80% decline day as the market violently whipsawed out of the buy signal it gave on Tuesday. Negative breadth on the NY Exchange reached as high as 90%, meaning that 90% of the stocks traded on the NYSE traded in negative territory.

It is unclear what will happen next, but here are a few things to think about.

First, over the past six months, the market has seen ten 80% decline days. Seven out of ten times the market rallied hard the following day.

Second, while we don't know what the market is going to do next, the S&P can offer us a clue today.

As you can see on the chart above, the SPY closed at its right shoulder support on the inverted head and shoulders pattern it has been trading in over the past 6 months.

Keep in mind that the pattern can also be interpreted as a double top.

What happens next will help us determine what to expect next. If the right should support holds and buyers step in here hopes for a 4th quarter rally will be kept alive.

However, if the market follows through and closes lower today, the only reasonable interpretation will be that the market has entered a downtrend.

What to look for next?

• Follow through lower today would be a clear support violation and a signal to exit all long positions.

• A weak bounce today would offer a warning that support is in danger of breaking soon and would be a signal to exit all long positions.

• A strong rally day would signal that all remains healthy and would keep hope for a 4th quarter rally alive.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Worry. More High Prices.

Despite all the bad news. Despite the fact that the housing market is in the dump. Despite the fact that oil prices are ready to take out Goldman Sach's Peak Oil Report price of $100. Despite the fact that retail is still in the dump. Despite all this, the market wants to move higher.

This is a wall of worry and it is the reason that it is important not to pay attention to news headlines. Paying attention to the news will make you miss out on some of the best market moves.

A 4th quarter rally is very much in the works here and trading opportunities that made us a lot of money over the past few months promise to continue.

Today we are once gain seeing great long side set ups that offer very promising risk:reward ratios.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stick to the Fringes of This Market

The SPY arguably made a lower low yesterday, but it was able to close strong trapping shorts once again.

This has been the theme of the market this year. It teases the shorts, traps them and then reverses higher.

Short positions in the weak sectors provided in yesterday's report continue to remain viable. Likewise, longs in the strongest areas remain good bets. We would avoid anything that isn't trading at 52-week highs or 52-week lows.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What's Hot and What's Not

Support levels held on Friday so the market is most likely to see a couple of flat to positive days as we begin the week. However, there are some negative developments that need to be watched closely as we move forward.

First, Market Support Levels:

The SPY (S&P 500 ETF) created a lower high at $155 last week, but when testing its lower Bollinger band support on Friday, buyers stepped in and kept the index from printing a lower low.

So, thus far we do not have a confirmed downtrend in the broader market. We do have a broader market that has lost momentum, however.

As you can see in the chart above, the SPY broke its uptrend at $154 two weeks ago. Now the Bollinger band is starting to roll over. The threat that this can turn into a downtrend is real. It will be interesting to see what happens when the price returns to $154. Will sellers step back in or will the market shrug off the bad news and climb higher?


Meanwhile, the QQQQ has maintained its uptrend. Friday's test was successful and the price did not break support.

Even so, there are some warning signs that need to be watched here. Primarily, money flow has diverged negatively as can be seen in the chart below:

So, while the QQQQ continues to make new highs, money flow is now making a series of lower highs and lows. This indicates that smart money has been selling the strength starting at $52.

Keep in mind that while money flow gives us a glimpse at what smart money is up to, it is a poor timing indicator. The price can continue higher, perhaps much higher, while the money flow continues to diverge. When prices do collapse, however, they may do so quickly. Thus it is important to keep very tight stops, focus on buying only support tests and avoid buying rallies. Likewise, hedge your positions.

What's Under Accumulation

Chemicals, Food and Beverage, Energy, Aerospace, and Precious Metals.

What's Under Distribution

Banking, Retail, Home Building, Insurance, Publishers, Autos, Trucking, Airlines, Semiconductors


Everything that is exposed primarily to the US domestic market and/or has sub prime exposure, is already in a severe downtrend. Anything that has exposure to Asian growth, or that benefits from a weak dollar, continues to be in a strong uptrend.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Trend Facing a Severe Test

Everything that was good about the market on Wednesday collapsed as if the rally were built on nothing but a foundation of dry kindling. The NASDAQ still remains in an uptrend, but it wouldn't take much to break down here.

We won't propose that we know what is going to happen next. This market has so many times recently seen 80% negative breadth days like yesterday, only to suck in shorts and then climb higher once again.

This time may be different though. There are a great deal of stocks that are seriously extended. The transport index is breaking down, the economy appears to be heading for a recession, and sub prime woes don't yet appear to be fully priced in.

Bulls have their hands full today. Let's see if they can turn things around yet one more time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Don Trading Caps

Moves that occur on the day of Fed actions tend to be unreliable indicators of future direction. This time may be no different. Nevertheless, the market reacted very positively to the rate cut. The Nasdaq broke out to fresh highs on solid volume and the S&P and Dow cracked their upper Fibonacci retracement barrier, which was pretty much the last line of defense for the shorts.

It now appears quite likely that the broader market is going to retest this year's highs. Given the momentum behind the tech sector and the continued skittishness of the crowds, it appears likely that the highs will be taken out at some point before the year is over.

This is typically the most bullish time of the year, so put your trading caps on.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Buckle Up, Here Comes the Fed Again

The market remains in a holding pattern in front of today's expected rate cut. There is nothing we can add to this observation. When we get a chance to gage the reaction to the cut, we may once again have something meaningful to say about the market. Until then, buckle down and get ready for the ride.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stay Conservative Today

The market is in a holding pattern in front of tomorrow's Fed decision. It remains unclear what type of rate cut is in store and how the market will react to Uncle Ben's decision.

Now is a time to be conservative, not to make bets on Wednesday's market response. No one keeps money very long trying to get lucky.

Monday, October 29, 2007

S&P Looking Strong

The sharp recovery of the S&P 500 last week provides that index with a strong start to a handle on a cup and handle pattern.

Over the past few weeks now we have been arguing that with bearish sentiment so high and the fact that everyone hates this market so much that now is the best time to be in the market for what has the potential to be a major bull trend.

If indeed the S&P breaks out of a cup and handle pattern here we could see prices rise over the next 6-18 months.

We will say it again. The media and market analysts don't talk about impending recessions at market tops. Put your tin foil conspiracy hats on when analyzing media comments about the stock market. Smart money needs an enthusiastic retail market to sell to at market tops. The media doesn't understand the market and they tend to report the news that is being fed them by smart money.

When the media starts cheerleading it will be time to start selling into the rallies. They haven't started yet.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Focus On Chem While the Market Stews

The market is in a holding pattern and may stay that way until next Wednesday's Fed decision. Meanwhile, there is a sector that offers an excellent trend: Chemicals are in an uptrend and continue to offer high probability long opportunities.

There is no sense struggling with the areas that aren't decissive in this market. Chemicals, as we saw with MOS yesterday, are decissive right now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What a Wall of Worry Looks Like

Volatility has been heavy over the past few weeks and yesterday didn't disappoint. Early weakness on Merrill Lynch's earnings, however, gave way to buying in the afternoon keeping a strong bullish bias alive.

Moreover, the Walker sentiment report came out last night and we find that the overtly bearish sentiment that was reported last week persists this week.

This is a market that it has paid to pay attention to sentiment with. Everyone hates this rally and hated rallies tend to keep on burning the bears and working their way up the wall of worry.

All the news is negative. Sentiment is negative. Analysts are grudgingly going along with the rally, but complain about impending recessions and poor earnings. And the market takes two steps forward and one step back and another two steps forward again.

This, folks, is a wall of worry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bullish Tenacity Keeps Uptrend Alive

One word can be used to describe the bulls in this current market; relentless. The banking sector is under massive selling pressure. Housing looks ready to make another leg lower. The S&P has suffered severe technical damange. And yet, the Nasdaq continues to march higher. Moreover, of the 600 odd stocks in our 52-week high lis, more than 60% are exhibiting bullish divergences on indicators such as money flow and money stream. What we have here is a mixed market with an advantage to the bulls.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Any Rally This Week Should be Shorted Into

The market bounced yesterday, but as we mentioned in yesterday's report, any bounce this week should be considered highly suspect. The Nasdaq is still in an uptrend, but the broader market has collapsed and is likely to continue to be a lead weight around the neck of the majority of stocks.

Under these types of conditions, long set ups tend to fail, frustrating those who fight the trend by giving them just enough encouragement to buy again. Once they buy, however, they find that prices refuse to make new highs and then within a few days prices bleed frustratingly lower until stops are triggered.

We don't know what type of correction we are facing here, but probabilities are high that long positions are going to struggle for a while. For now, it's best to focus on selling the weakest areas of the market rather than trying to buy the strongest areas.

Monday, October 22, 2007

S&P Failure Like a Rock Around Market's Neck

Last week we went against the crowd and went long again after making money on our short position HOV. We decided to do so as market sentiment was overly bearish and trading on sentiment has proven to pay off well over the past few months. This time we were wrong.

On Friday the failed breakout on the S&P 500 proved to be a lead weight around the market's neck and stocks sold off heavily. Most of our long positions stopped out.

Sometimes the market catches you unaware. We have been making money on the majority of our trades for two months now, so staying with the uptrend has been the right thing to do. We got caught pushing our luck on Friday, but that's what stops are for.

The alternative would have been to avoid all risk over the past two months and not make any money.

What we want everyone to keep in mind is that timing the market is an imperfect art. No one gets it right every time. You can, however, make money consistently by making sure you lock it up quickly when you find yourself on the wrong side of the tape.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mixed Market Raises Anxiety Levels

The S&P closed below its 20-day average while the NASDAQ continued to power higher yesterday. Mixed performance in the indices can easily be explained by one word: Banking.

The S&P and Dow are loaded with banking stocks. The NASDAQ does not have much exposure to this very weak sector. What message the weak banking sector is sending about the market's macro issues here is probably not a positive one.

Even so, we continue to find good long side set ups. On top of that, near term sentiment is highly negative. Finally, we are entering one of the most bullish of seasons. Adding up all three of these factors outweighs the negatives for the trader. Let long term investors worry about the economy. Traders should be focused on the tape that is right in front of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Bears Were Wrong; Again

Over the past few days the market has been under selling pressure. The S&P 500, which experienced a weak breakout last week, appeared to have experienced a failed breakout this week. This fact, and the fact that no one believes in the tech rally that just won't quit and oil prices reaching near $90/barrel, has caused a bearish din amongst pundits that is nearly ear-shattering.

A few weeks ago we had this same situation and if you recall we used the bearish sentiment as a reason to get aggressively long. Doing so paid off very nicely.

Over the past two days we got short and tightened up stops on long positions because technically it was the right thing to do. Today, however, it is time to react quickly to this fast moving market, which demands agility to survive, and get long again.

Over the past few weeks we have been developing a list of strong performing stocks to watch. Some of those stocks have underperformed and experienced heavy selling pressure. Some though showed their true colors and their true colors are very bullish. Stocks that didn't succumb to selling this week are set up to rally hard.

We suspect that roasted bear is still on the menu. Don't listen to the noise. The charts and the sentiment readings are telling us that the correction is over.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mixed Conditions in Front of Earnings Season

The S&P broke its trend line and is very weak here. Transportation is rolling over, which is a warning sign to the Dow theorists, who need transports to confirm the breakout.

Primarily, we take the market's technicals with a grain of salt here. This is earnings season and earnings season is news-driven, not technically driven. It's hard to get serious about the short side in anything but the weak builders and real estate sectors. It's certainly not a time to get aggressively long either.

As earnings roll out over the next few weeks, we should start to get better set ups once again.

Sector Watch: Metals are mixed now with some industrial metal stocks exhibiting strength and others are under severe distribution. Gold looks to be making a dip in an uptrend. Oil stocks are neutral here. China is now under distribution, but we would hesitate to short it as it can be extremely volatile. Shipping stocks, like metal, are mixed.
The stro
ngest opportunities are now on the short side in the builders and real estate sectors.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trend Watch In Effect

The market is in a very tough spot here. The S&P broke out, but volume was not intense. Yesterday the S&P looked like a breakout failure intraday, but by the close it was able to move back up and close at new support.

It's tempting to join the other pundits and repeat the worn out idea "market participants are not willing to make any bets in front of the slew of earnings," but that may in fact be what we are faced with here.

As a result, no one can really know what to expect next. The uptrend is still in tact. Commodities continue to behave well. The future probably depends on projections that come with all the conference calls in the next few weeks.

As we noted yesterday, avoid everything but Energy, Metals, Asia, and Shipping.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Right Thing to Do

On Friday, dip buyers kept the trend alive despite Thursday's hard late-day sell off. The S&P closed the week above its breakout, so double-top watch is now off the table and false breakout watch is on the table.

The tech sector is way overbought and is vulnerable for a sharper correction.

The market is getting tricky to navigate after so many weeks in a row without a serious pull back. We would focus primarily on the hot sectors (China, Shipping, Oil, Gold, Metals) and avoid everything else for now.

Oh, and keep tight trailing stops. It's the right thing to do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Key Reversal Day May Change Market Character

Yesterday the market gapped higher in the morning and the bull trend looked healthy throughout morning trading. However, in late day trading it suffered a key reversal and indices sold off hard on volume.

This potentially marks a character change that needs to be carefully monitored.

Two likely scenarios to follow are:

Bulls refuse to give up the trend and after a shallow dip, prices will move back up to fresh new highs.


A top of significance was put in and prices will trade sharply lower in coming weeks.

At this point no one knows.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Focus On What's Working in This Market

Are we starting to see a pattern develop here? One day up followed by one day down? The broader market was stuck in the mud yesterday and stocks outside of a few strong areas in tech and the commodities sectors aren't offering up a lot of confidence to buy in at these nosebleed levels.

It's probably best to be really impatient with the market here and just focus your attention on what is working and weed out of your portfolio that which is not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And We Now Have Follow Through

We got the follow through we had been looking for on the S&P 500. This means that the broader market is just now starting to participate in the tech and commodities rally.

Even so, it is best to focus most of your attention on the high flying commodities here. Oil and metals stocks are just now breaking out of strong chart patterns like cup and handle, double bottom, and inverted head and shoulders.

We would categorize these patterns as longer term breakouts. Pennants and bull flags are short term patterns that project short term moves. Patterns like the cup and handle project multi month, and sometimes multi year moves higher.

We appear to be at the threshold of a major move in commodities.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lack of Follow Through Concerning

Yesterday's lack of follow through on the S&P is concerning, but it's not a deal breaker. Yet. We need to watch carefully here to see if the bullish trend can reassert itself. Bulls need to step up to the plate and buy here; if they don't the market will be vulnerable for a sharp correction.

Monday, October 08, 2007

S&P Breaks Out

The S&P did indeed break out Friday. Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking for follow through. As long as there are no major fades this week, the bulls are looking at a good fourth quarter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

S&P Coiled and Ready

The S&P has been coiling into a bullish spring near its highs over the past few days.

This is very bullish.

As noted earlier this week, bears are looking to fade the breakout attempt because they believe that a double top is forming. The problem with this strategy is that double tops are very rare and betting on one offers one of the lowest probabilities offered in the market.

Right now the recovery from August lows looks too sharp. As Einstein reminded us, however, everything is relative. It may be a sharp recovery when considered from a smaller time frame. And, were we not in a bull market it would make good sense to argue that prices are destined to return to their mean.

But we are in a bull market. In September 2006 the SPY was set up exactly like it is now. Then, as we suggest will happen now, no double top was to be had. Prices did not regress to their mean, but the bull trend had its way and bears betting on downside contributed to the rally as they were forced to cover at higher prices.

Recent price action would suggest we will see the same thing occur this year.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

S&P Watch, Day 2

Once again, it's S&P watch. The market lost some momentum yesterday, and we may see prices remain flat for a few more days.

To our eyes, the S&P looks a lot like Microsoft (MSFT) a year ago September. Keep in mind that double tops are very rare in the market, so it is advisable to bet against them. September 2006, MSFT was faced with a double top. Momentum waned mid month. Then late in the month it powered higher and didn't look back for several months following.

Of course we can't know if the S&P will do the same here, but these types of patterns oftentimes repeat in the market so this idea serves as a bit of a road map to watch for.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

S&P Watch

There is not much new that can be said about the market here. Just keep in mind that all eyes are on the S&P here. It is near breakout levels and given strength in the other sectors, it seems likely that it will indeed break out here. Some consolidation first would be welcome, but not absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Small Caps Starting to Take Over

The new quarter got off to a raging start as bear's arguments for a double top stung them badly. Most impressive here is the rotation into the small cap sector. The Russell 2000 is finally getting some play as money starts to move back into the more speculative stocks again.

There has been in place a flight-to-safety and the small cap index has been lagging. We suspect that the faster moving small cap stocks are going to start offering some excelling opportunities in coming months.

Once again, dips are buying opportunities. Days like yesterday are fun, but they don't offer the best entry opportunities. Weak days, like last Friday, when the bears are roaring and the bulls are biting their nails, are the days to get aggressive with your buying. Embrace the dips, don't fear them.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Trend Still Up

The quarter ended with a bit of a whimper. This has caused all kinds of speculation about double tops and every other sort of fearful and bearish arguments that distrustful commentators can come up with.

Frankly, we think all the noise is nothing but evidence for a wall of worry. The market is clearly in an uptrend. Tech is clearly leading the way higher, the way one would hope a healthy bull market would enjoy. Prices are clearly ready to test overhead highs.

We hate to predict too much about this week's price action. If we had to make a guess though, we would say that given the level of fear and the bearish predictions getting thrown around, that the market may have some games up its sleeve. We can see the potential for a scary shake out this week that quickly whipsaws the shorts yet again.

Dips remain buying opportunities.

Note: Here's a story that's not necessarily related to the market. We find Dr. Pausch's story to be highly moving and it serves as a great reminder that life is truly precious.

A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues. He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.
What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? For Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, the question isn't rhetorical -- he's dying of cancer. Jeff Zaslow narrates a video on Prof. Pausch's final lecture. They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Steady as She Goes

Breadth was positive once again yesterday and the Dow and S&P are perking up a little. We are also seeing money rotate into the small caps as speculators are testing the waters once again.

Note: We will take Friday off this week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The 80/20 Smart Money Rule

Major indices lag tech, which is very strong here. Other areas that are strong are China, India, and energy and manufacturing.

The mixed market, along with headlines on sub prime and other recessionary fears has reduced bullish sentiment to an incredible 25% in this week's Walker Sentiment Report.

This very nearly fits the 20/80 rule, which says when 80% of the crowd is leaning one way, the 20% that stand in opposition are likely represented by smart money. With the crowd selling here and smart money is buying, which way do you think the market is going to go from here?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Buy of the Decade?

Every day we scan the market pundits to get an idea of where the market mood is at. Why so many are bearish when the charts look so good is a real head scratcher to be sure. Nevertheless, the overwhelming level of skiddishness out there combined with a Fed willing to prop up the market and charts that are just screaming buys here, we may be on the edge of a serious sustainable market move higher.

In fact, the stars are lined up to give us another 2003. Long time subscribers know what that means. We made more in 2003 than we have in the years since. Add this up and that means that we could make more in the next 6-12 months than we made in almost five years.

The near term market picture is a bit choppy, but it is likely that the bears are going to get stung again later this week as we get the end of the month buying spree.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Keep it Simple

Breadth was excellent yesterday as the market was able to follow through higher. Especially note worthy is the fact that the lagging small cap sector broke out on volume putting an exclamation point on the response to the Fed surprise liquidity injection.

Even better, the wall of worry remains firmly in tact as twice as many are pouring money into puts as they are calls.

This is a market that shouldn't be overanalyzed. Use the KISS principle here and keep it simple. Buy the dips and protect your gains. Rocket scientists are likely sitting on the sidelines afraid to buy this market.

Note: Since tomorrow is options expiration, we will take the day off. Use the volatility to get a good entry price on positions we recommended this week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Breakout is the Word for the Day

Everyone had an opinion about what the Fed was going to do yesterday. Now, everyone is going to have an opinion about what the huge rate cut is going to mean to the market.

We will let the charts speak for themselves. Here's a weekly view of the S&P ETF SPY.

Note that the heavy sell off this summer was quickly contained; just as it was last February (the large down draft on the left of the chart. The price then formed a base of support for several months and now yesterday broke out big time.

This indicates to us that we are on the verge of a very big move higher. Add to that the fact that market sentiment levels, as of last week, were printing bearishness that hadn't been seen since the market bottom in 2002.

Unless the market spends the rest of the week selling off and the SPY closes back below its breakout point on Friday, we offer that we are looking at the beginning of a significant market move.

Given the shot in the arm the Fed gave the economy yesterday, we doubt it is going to whipsaw lower here. At least one would hope.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Looking for a Jumpy Market Today

The Fed meets today and the market is looking for a rate cut. The raging debate is how much of a cut will the Fed offer; 1/4 point or 1/2 point.

The $24,000 question is, how will the market react to whatever the Fed does? We don't know and neither does anyone else.

Stocks are set up with a bullish posture. Yesterday no one took a chance as volume was extremely low. Today there will surely be volatility, but we won't really know what the market thinks about the Fed decision for at least another day or two as the market needs time to hash it out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bullish Technical Set Up

The market continues to trade in a solid holding pattern in front of tomorrow's Fed meeting. Sentiment levels remain at the overly bearish stage and technically the charts are extremely bullish here.

This is the right combination for a strong move higher into the autumn months.

Of course this could all change if the market doesn't like the Fed's decision. But right now, let's focus on the hand we are dealt and the hand we are dealt is very bullish.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ignore the Noise

Indices are in a bit of a holding pattern as the market awaits the Fed decision on interest rates. The ongoing debate now is not whether rates will be cut, but by how much. The Fed meets in 4 business days, but there is some potential that rates could be cut earlier.

Another Friday morning surprise? Perhaps Monday morning after an ugly Friday?

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to draw conclusions about what to make from the day-to-day trading action. We doubt very much that anything meaningful can be drawn here. The QQQQ is trading just over its inverted head and shoulders (H&S) pattern, while the Dow, and S&P have yet to break the necklines of their own H&S patterns.

As noted last week, anything that goes on below the neckline area is just market noise and is insignificant in determining what to expect next.

What is most interesting, however, is the fact that so many tech and energy stocks are breaking out to fresh 52-week highs. It's probably best to just forget what the indices and the Fed are doing and just focus on what is working right now.

Right now, there are a group of stocks heading higher, so buy the dips, keep stops tight and don't pay attention to the market noise.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tech Wall of Worry Building Brick-by-Brick

Despite recent market weakness, the tech sector has continued to climb a wall of worry and has healed its damaged technical conditions.

Dips in this sector are now excellent buying opportunities, but entry points matter in this market that has been so rough on price chasers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Buyer Strike

Sellers didn't get their follow through yesterday. Even so, the buying was weak and not much can be made of it.

Technical conditions are eroding and the second shoe may in fact be ready to drop. The problem here is that the Fed needs to be added to the equation. All things being equal, we would say this market is in for a hurtin'. The Fed may have something to say about that.

This is why the market is such a mess here. No one wants to bet against the Fed. But even so, the buyers are on strike.

Monday, September 10, 2007

QQQQ $48 is the Tell to Watch For

On Friday the market behaved as if the sky were falling after the jobs report came in with a shocking loss. If the report is correct, and considering the revisions that usually follow these reports there is no guarantee that it is, then the economy is already in a recession.

We frankly don't know, and so it seems neither does the market. The market has been bouncing around in confusion for weeks now. It's very hard to take Friday's downturn seriously considering how many times the market has whipsawed recently.

Currently the S&P and Dow are still trading in inverted head and shoulders patterns. If the prices can break the neckline of these patterns it would send a very bullish message. The NASDAQ has already broken out of this pattern and on Friday the price merely pulled back to test support.

The tell here will be the NASDAQ. If the NASDAQ fails here, then it will be important to get short, because it would signal that the second shoe may be ready to drop.

Friday's trading was just market noise. Nothing important can be derived from it. Right now we need to watch the NASDAQ. If the QQQQ goes back under $48 and doesn't recover before the close, then look out below.

Friday, September 07, 2007


We should probably start an S&P watch, because the market pretty much hangs on the balance of the inverted head and shoulders pattern it trades in.

As you can see from the SPY chart below, a break above $150 would break the neckline of the pattern and most likely project the beginning of a strong new multi-month trend higher. You can also see, however, that the price can pull back to $144 and still remain within the pattern.

As such, this market is in limbo until this situation resolves.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Momentum Lacking

Yesterday's pull back from near term overbought levels was predictable. What is not very predictable is what the market really wants to do next. It may be a few more days before it really shows its hand.

Europe and Asia are up as we write this, so yesterday's losses are likely to be regained once again today. We aren't willing to go out on a limb any further than this at this point.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tech Threatens Old Highs

Volume hasn't been strong recently, but a quick examination of what followed the last few market corrections will show that volume was relatively light at the beginning of the new trends. This is likely due to the fact that doubters persist and refuse to get on board the fresh trend until it becomes readily apparent that indeed the market is in rally mode.

With the tech sector leading the way higher and with the financials continue to show strong accumulation, it's just a matter of time before the S&P breaks the neckline of its inverted head and shoulders pattern and marches back up the hill with tech.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Financials Continue to See Accumulation

Volume should start to pick up this week now that the professional money managers are returning from vacation. The inverted head and shoulders pattern on the S&P has not yet confirmed, but prices are ripe for a wall-of-worry climb if that's what the pros have in mind.

With the NASDAQ taking the lead and moving right back into its broken uptrend last week it's hard to make a strong bearish case on the technicals. In fact, the financial sector, which has been choppy, continues to see strong money flow indicating it remains under accumulation.

This makes sense since the sector collapsed on the unknowns. Now that it is known that the Fed is willing to step in and bolster it, and especially now that Bush has offered up a plan to bail out the banks who were facing a sub prime crisis, it stands to reason that prices will once again seek their averages.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Head and Shoulders Bottom?

The S&P, despite the violent downside moves over the past few weeks, appears to be trading in an inverted head and shoulders pattern.

Indeed, should the market respond favorably to the 10 a.m. Bernanke speech, the neckline of this head and shoulders pattern could be broken to the upside, triggering a strong weekly buy signal.

They say don't fight the Fed and that sentiment seems to be what is going on here over the past two days as buyers have stepped up to the plate. Despite Tuesday's ugly sell off, the market has been marching straight back up the hill, carving out the right shoulder and placing the market in a position to start a fresh leg higher in the secular bull market.

No one knows for sure what Bernanke is going to say today, and no one knows for sure how the market is going to respond. Bulls seem to have a big advantage going into the game today though. Let's see if their advantage remains after today's close.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Things Just Get Silly

Yesterday it was clear from a technical standpoint that the market had rolled over. Major indices had, and still do, strong bearish money flow divergences. Indices had made a series of lower lows and the rollover was one more lower high confirming the downtrend. The only thing missing was volume. But since this is late August it's hard to expect much. Sr. traders are on vacation now after all.

Yesterday's reversal was quite the shocker then. It appears as if this market is entirely random; ran at the whims of the Jr. traders playing with their programs.

It's unclear now who has the upper hand, bulls or bears. Under normal circumstances we would continue to give the nod to the bears, but since the market refuses to play right it's probably next to impossible to guess.

Indices are back up at major overhead resistance. The QQQQ is back kissing its broken trend and the SPY is trading up against its downsloping trend line. Technically the market should turn lower once again. But if the market decides to react positively to the next to sure fact that the Fed is going to lower rates in September, you can throw the technicals out the window because the market is going to do what it's going to do despite what it "should" do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Market Rolls Over into Intermediate Downtrend

Market technicals spoke loud and clear Monday. Indeed, yesterday the market folded on itself, entering yet another intermediate downtrend. br>
Major indices moved up on light volume last week merely to tag their broken 50-day averages. With yesterday's roll over, a test of August lows is close to a certainty. br>
At this time we will avoid making further predictions about where this market is heading. However, if August lows are penetrated, the broad market will then necessarily be considered to be in a primary downtrend. Whether this will occur or not is hard to say. But right now there is a disconnect in the market as high levels of uncertainty have emerged due to the credit crunch and concern that the Fed is more interested in fighting inflation than keeping the economy out of a recession. br>
When institutional money is uncertain, they sell.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rally Came on Decreasing Volume

Yesterday we wrote: "Selling short at these levels does not seem offer a great deal of potential."

We need to back track on that statement today.

Yesterday's market breadth was hugely bearish and the number of stocks tagging their 50-day averages from below on rapidly decreasing volume is a strong warning sign that the market's sell off that started late last month is threatening to reassert itself.

We may be second-guessing ourselves here, but the technical conditions of this market are clear. They are signaling a downturn from near current levels.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shorting this Rally Just Doesn't Feel Right

Last week indices pulled up to resistance areas on light volume. On Friday the S&P, Dow, and NASDAQ all pulled up to their 50-day averages on less than strong volume.

This is a classic short set up.

Even so, something just doesn't quite seem right about shorting here. Firstly, it's the end of the month and typically the end of the month experiences strength due to increased liquidity in the market.

But more than that: Bank stocks continue to see leading money flow divergences, indicating that the sector that leads the market is poised to move higher. Then, if you drill back to the weekly charts, all three averages are exhibiting weekly buy signals.

Finally, and this one is most striking to us, is the fact that none of the ultrashort ETFs (exchange traded funds that move up when the indices move down) look very attractive to buyers here. Sometimes it's easier to see the direction a stock intends to go by flipping the chart over. Looking at the DXD and QID (ultrashorts for the Dow and the NASDAQ 100), it is plain to see that these averages are not good buys at this point and as such, their underlying indices are not good sells.

The bottom line: After last week's run, indices are probably due for some type of pullback or consolidation. We would certainly not buy at these levels. Selling short at these levels does not seem offer a great deal of potential either though. Dips from here are probably buying opportunities.

If we had to make a prediction, we would say that either indices are going to power higher above resistance here, and then pull back and regroup for a buying opportunity. Or, they will suffer a minor pullback, which will then be a buying opportunity.

But let's wait and see.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mixed Messages with a Technically Bearish Bias

Bearish sentiment readings have now reached lows not achieved since the 2003 bottom. The financials, at least so far this week, have been showing bullish divergences between price and money flow, indicating they are under accumulation.

Even so, technically the market is now at resistance and technical indicators tell us we should look for a pullback or a resumption of the downtrend.

What to make of this?

It’s probably best to pay attention to market technicals here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Financials Perky

Bearish sentiment continues to rage, though fear levels have come back significantly.

Yesterday we noted that the market could either break higher or pull back into what we argued would be a good, low-risk buying opportunity. Indices may or may not pull back from here, but it looks to us as if shorts are going to continue to be pinned to the wall here, forcing them to cover at higher and higher points.

Significantly, the financial sector is showing a good deal of accumulation at current levels. Stocks with the most exposure to sub prime are still iffy, but other stocks in the sector that were taken down on fears this month are now showing leading bullish divergences with a number of important technical indicators, indicating strong accumulation taking place.

As financials go, so goes the market they say.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hoping for a Dip

Investor sentiment at dropped significantly this week. The number of bulls decreased from 28% last week to only 22% this week. Add to this a continued number of traders buying puts and we have the right combination for a market rally.

Over the past few days the market has come off its lows on decreased volume. This is bearish. So how do we reconcile this bearish technical reading against sentiment levels that indicate we are near a tradable upside rally?

The way we see it, one of two things can occur here. The market can, with a burst of volume, break higher today or tomorrow forcing bears to cover. Or, the market can behave in the way it is technically expected.

Technically, the market should roll over from the resistance levels all major indices are now trading at. We submit that if it does roll over, fear will spike even higher than it already is and the roll over will find a higher low from which to launch a tradable rally.

We hope that the later takes place and that the market pulls back here. Buying at current levels does not offer a good risk:reward. Buying into a fear-inducing dip, on the other hand, offers a very nice risk:reward set up.

Of course we need to mention that there is a third possibility. The market could pull back from current levels and keep on going lower. Given that the Fed has shown itself willing to bail out the banks and considering current levels of fear, probabilities of such are quite low. As such, a dip here should be considered a buying opportunity.

As such, we are symbolically crossing our fingers and hoping for some downside today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Could Go Either Way Today

Light volume indicates that stocks may be running out of buying interest. Nevertheless, prices remain highly oversold and sentiment remains overtly bearish.

We suspect that even if prices dip back near lows, it will just spark another oversold rally. It is doubtful that the ultimate lows are in, but it is almost equally doubtful that the market is going to be able to take out Thursday's lows before it first rallies and shakes out the bears.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Bumpy Ride Ahead

We should probably rant about how institutional money and the Fed are in bed together and how the Fed, lender of last resort, is actually babysitter to options sellers, willing to bail them out the first sign they are ready to lose a load of money based on foolish hubris. But what good would that do?

The game is what it is. It is not played fair, nor are all players on an even playing field. Sometimes retail traders get the short end of the stick.

We believe that retail traders have an opportunity to get back at the institutional players here though as this volatility lends to those of us who can switch positions quickly. We can quickly jump back on the long side now that the Fed has shown itself more willing to bail out their friends out of a bad situation. Then, when the market starts to fall under its own weight again, and it will (probably sooner than later) we can jump back on the short side and ride the next wave back down.

Considering the distribution taking place, we are looking for the market to stay bumpy, just like it did in 2000. This gives those of us with flexibility to get in and get out quickly a chance to make some nice profits in coming months.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Support Gives Way

Technical support failed yesterday and the market is likely headed lower. Fear continues to spike and the market is very oversold technically. Nevertheless, these measures are relative.

That is to say, relative to the recent low volatility uptrend experienced over the past few years, fear is extreme and oversold conditions are extreme. This causes traders to look for a bounce. But measured against the 2001-2002 market correction, the numbers aren't quite so extreme. In fact, they are still mild.

Keep in mind that the Fed is going after the credit bubble and in doing so, stock prices are sure to suffer consequences.

In our opinion, this is good healthy behavior. This market was getting to be nearly impossible to trade, but now has a fresh breath of life due to the selling. It takes some adjustments to get used to, but there are some excellent opportunities in this market that just didn't exist over the past few years and certainly not over the past year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Support or not Support, that is the Question

Yesterday the market tested the very limits of support in the trading range we provided yesterday. The Dow broke through, but it still has uptrend support, which could hem it in for another few days.

Technically the market should bounce here. It's oversold, fear is spiking, and it's at support.

Now, whether or not the market is interested in paying attention to technical support levels or not is another question. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Game Plan

Raymond James recently issued a technical report on the market conditions and highlighted an interesting parallel between the current market and 1998. We believe that this has some merit and can provide us with a good road map for where the market might be headed as we move into the fall months.

Friday's liquidity injection was quietly rescinded on Monday, so the bullish case for a short squeeze has pretty much gone up in smoke. This is further evidenced by the fact that bulls ignored their opportunity yesterday and went on a buyers strike letting stocks settle back again on very low volume.

This leads us into the Raymond James report. In this chart they show how in 1998 the S&P 500 broke out of a multi week range, but then failed spectacularly and slid lower on several wide-range sell days. Waves "a" and "b" on the 1998 chart below mirrors the S&P between this May and now.

Following the initial break out failure and slide lower, the market moved into a choppy trading range of what turned out to be the "b" wave of an a-b-c correction. It appears that this "b" wave is where the market is at now.

Given the distribution pressure that persists, we suspect that a move back up to the upper end of the range in the "b" wave (2007 SPY chart below) will produce a high-probability shorting opportunity just like it did in 1998.

Keep in mind that once the c leg of the 1998 correction played out, the market did a double bottom bounce and moved on higher to all time highs. We don't know if this time will be the same or not, but since we have yet to see the enthusiastic euphoria stage of the latest bull market, it may be possible that such a scenario develops again.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Short Squeeze Setting Up?

Friday was a day of whipsaws. The market started out with sellers furiously attacking support levels as the credit crunch affecting the financials produced fears that we were fast approaching a 1987-like crash. By mid morning, however, the Fed stepped in and injected several billion dollars into the economy to calm investor fears and add much-needed liquidity. This caused a quick jump, but sellers were still determined.

Later in the day, however, more money was injected and this time it took hold, pushing index prices and financial stocks higher into the close causing a goal-line stand on the SPY and stemming the outflow on the leading financial sector.

Even so, a huge amount of traders made bets on the bearish side last week shorting Friday's bounce. With expiration this week the short positions are the positions most likely to suffer maximum pain. With money stream figures now diverging bullishly in the financial groups, we see a potential for a strong short squeeze.

Keep in mind that this assumes all things remain equal. If another hedge fund crashes this week, shorts may see a breath of new life in their positions.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Selling Just Getting Started

As we had been warning since last week, the recent market bounce was merely a technical one driven by short covering and oversold conditions. Yesterday the real trend reasserted itself with ferocity.

The VIX, what we like to call the fear indicator, has now surpassed two year highs, but rather than signal a bottom we believe this marks the beginning of a much larger sell off. Distribution has been mighty in recent weeks and the credit crunch banks are faced with looks to be the real deal; not just fear mongering.

A look at the monthly Dow chart tells us that this is a market that is in serious trouble. Whatever it turns out to be though, we are thoroughly enjoying this fresh injection of volatility.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why This Time May be Different

The rally was able to extend another day yesterday. However, the QQQQ has merely been able to move back up to kiss its broken channel, while the SPY has only managed a return to its 50-day average.

We realize that last March the market was able to rally back up into the broken uptrend channels following February's break down event. We believe this time is different though. Ignoring the fundamentals for a moment, since it is possible that the sub prime issue was overdone (we don't think so, but we could be wrong), technical conditions do not favor the bullish case here.

As we noted last month before this correction really got underway, major indices and a large number of stocks, have been under severe distribution ever since the market was able to rally higher from February's drop. In other words, there is evidence that a great deal of institutional selling was taking place into the weak market rally that took place between March and July.

Add to that the fact that the SPY suffered a long term breakout failure in late July; odds are that the rally this week was just an oversold technical rally fueled by a short squeeze. If so, we should see prices start to struggle in their current area.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Technical Bounce Extends

The response to the Fed's status quo statement was met positively yesterday and program trading took the market into positive territory at the close. Breadth is still poor though and all major indices remain below their 20-day averages.

We won't make any predictions today, but will instead sit out the day and watch to see how the market behaves now that the Fed has spoken.

The intermediate market trend remains down, so we are looking for prices to reverse again once this oversold bounce is played out.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Another Turnaround Tuesday?

The market was technically oversold after last week's hard sell off, so Monday's bounce was not surprising. Breadth on the bounce was lousy, however, as less than 50% of the NASDAQ bounced with the index and just over half the stocks in the other two major exchanges managed a positive day.

Many in the market are hoping for a Fed bail out this week. Such hope is not the best platform to base your bullish bets on. In fact, it's a good contrarian indicator that the market has more downside to go. Wishful thinking is always strongest when players are losing money as their positions continue to erode lower.

Could turnaround Tuesday rear its ugly head again today?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Worst Storm in 22 Years? Maybe

Friday, the CEO of Bear Sterns, noted that his sector (which is a market leader by the way) was weathering the worst storm in 22 years. That's a bold and significant statement.

Indeed, stocks took a dump on Friday and the intermediate trend of the market is now in a heavy swoon.

We are embracing this downturn. Stocks have been under heavy distribution for months now. In fact, the market has been under steady distribution for the past two years, which explains why it has been progressively harder to make money buying stocks. This sell off, whatever it turns into, is something the market really needed in order to reset the stage for better trading.

As we mentioned last week, we don't believe we are now entering a bear market. We may see bearish conditions for a while, but the long term bull has yet to reach its final stage. This sell off may be just the ticket that kicks off that final euphoric stage. We don't know.

Right now what we know is it's best to position for lower prices and when we start to see capitulation and money flows start to diverge higher as stocks inch lower, then, and only then is it time to start thinking of buying again. Right now sell is the only game in town.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Neutral Set Up in Front of Today's Jobs Report

The market is doing a pretty good impression of a market that wants to quickly recoup last week's losses. The reaction to the jobs report today will be telling. The major indices pulled up to resistance on decreasing volume yesterday, but if the buy programs kick in in response to the jobs report, that won't matter.

Be ready for anything today.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oversold Condition Likely to Get Some Relief

Yesterday's late day bounce was impressive. The SPY held support at its 200-day average and volume on the intraday reversal was heavy.

The question is, is it enough? V-bottom reversals are rare and it is highly unlikely that prices will now climb right back up the hill from whence they started. A recovery from last week's onslaught is certainly possible, but probabilities favor at least another test of the lows.

Today should be a positive as this oversold market needs a chance to catch back up with its falling 20-day averages. We won't have any real answers about this market until we see how it behaves when it retests the lows after the coming bounce.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

End of the Bull?

Monday's rally failed quickly and the dead cat could barely muster a bounce. The 50-day average on the QQQQ provided only a temporary pause on the way down and yesterday the index cut through this level in late day trading like a hot knife through butter.

This correction has legs and it is likely to give us some great short profits.

That out of the way, let's consider the longer term prospects of this market. Is the bull dead? If you pay attention to the news you might think so. Sub prime this, bubble that. The problem is bulls don't die on sour notes. Has it been so long since 2000 that we all forgot the euphoria that the last bull died on?

No, bull markets play out in three phases (click link for source):

• Bull markets commence with reviving confidence as business conditions improve.
• Prices rise as the market responds to improved earnings
• Rampant speculation dominates the market and price advances are based on hopes and expectations rather than actual results.

So far the market has experienced the first two, but has not yet seen the third part play out. In fact, as we have noted here repeatedly, bearish bets have been extreme for months now. What's to happen if this correction doesn't in fact turn into something worse, but instead quickly bottoms and starts to run at the highs?

We'll tell you what will happen. All those hedge funds holding heavy short positions will be in danger of underperforming on the year and they will not only be forced to cover, but buy as well if they expect to keep their jobs when the dust has settled January 01. This is how fall rallies get underway.

Hear this and heed the message: If there is one thing you can be sure about besides death and taxes, it's that the institutions that need buyers at the top and sellers at the bottom will not ring a bell and shout that the sky is falling when the market is topping. Just read the headlines in any financial rag right now and ask yourself what mood the media is attempting to engender in the retail market. It's certainly not one of high expectations now is it?