Sector Canaries Healthy with Some Small Wounds

Turning to the four key sectors I follow, we don’t have as strong a picture as the major indices, but they are still okay. Semis are first and they have been the strongest for some time, almost too strong, but that’s a topic for a different piece. While they have yet to eclipse their Dotcom bubble high from 2000, they continue to make new highs for this bull market.

Banks are next and after a dizzying pace following the election and prospects for reduced financial regulation, they leveled off and are now under pressure from the potential for less rate hikes. Banks should do better in a tightening cycle as rates move farther and farther from zero where their net interest margins improve dramatically. Their early March peak is in line with where it should be, worst case and this is not flashing warning signs just yet.

Consumer Discretionary is next and it looks somewhat similar to the semis with a series of new (and healthy) highs.

Finally, the Dow Transports are below. They peaked with the majority of the stock market in early March, but have since shown the most weakness of the four key sectors. This is the one I would most keep an eye on for future warning signs.

All in all, the sector canaries remain alive but a tiny bit wounded.

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Bulls Not Ready Just Yet

As we head into the holiday shortened week, the bulls don’t seem ready just yet for that next assault higher. Last Wednesday’s reversal still looms and there are small wounds that need to be healed. Don’t forget that our markets are closed on Friday for Good Friday and liquidity may be a touch lower because of the first two nights of Passover on Monday and Tuesday.

All of the major stock market indices experienced sharp reversals last Wednesday and while I do not believe they are significant, they should offer a little bit of hesitation over the short-term. The true “all clear” sign won’t be confirmed until they close above last Wednesday’s high which I think may take a week or more, even though the stock market is in a seasonally strong period.

On the sector front, the defensive ones like staples, utilities and REITs continue to quietly deliver, but I don’t think they will lead the next rally. I am now watching for signs that energy might finally be ready to step up and help after basically stinking it up all year. With transports also percolating nicely, wouldn’t that be interesting and unexpected to see!

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Sell Signal Closed Out. New Leadership Emerged

Today is the last day of the month as well as the last day of the quarter. The S&P 500 closed down -0.12% in August and is on track to close down in September unless the bulls can mount a major offensive, which I am not ruling out, and close above 2071. That means a down August and September for the S&P in a presidential election year, something not seen since 1956. You can put that in the category of useless info.

Last Thursday, I wrote about a somewhat rare trend that forecast weakness from last Thursday’s close through yesterday. http://investfortomorrowblog.com/archives/2403

As you can see below, it was a pretty good five day trade of more than 1%.

fomc

While stocks sold off hard on Thursday with German banking behemoth, Deutsche Bank, collapsing even further, this is absolutely not a Lehman moment. Unlike Lehman which had no asset base to keep them afloat when the institutions made a run on the bank, DB has a huge retail network. I also do not believe Chancellor Angela Merkel will risk DB becoming insolvent with the election coming in 2017.

Anyway, stocks remain in pullback mode which I have been writing about for several weeks. Remember, pullbacks can some in two forms. One is for prices to decline quickly and somewhat sharply, while the other is to see less price weakness and more lateral movement over a longer period of time. I think we are seeing the latter right now.

I  keep talking about leadership changing and look what has been doing well during this pullback. Semis, transports and energy. These are new and bullish leaders for the bull market as the defensive group has now transitioned from neutral to outright weak. And, high yield bonds continue to hang in very well right near their old highs.

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