Bears Attack. Bulls Defend.

Stocks were experiencing a strong selloff on Monday right through lunch. Then Trump trade chief, Peter Navarro, hit the media circuit to “clarify” what was being reported by the Wall Street Journal which was a cessation of Chinese investments into U.S. technology companies. Now normally, Larry Kudlow would have been the administration’s mouthpiece, but he has been recovering from a heart attack. So, the most protectionist person in the administration had to come out as less protectionist. An odd day for sure.

Stocks rallied over the final 60+ minutes, mitigating some of the losses. You can see below what looks like the same chart from yesterday. It basically is except that we now have a full day of trading for Monday and it’s clear that the bulls defended the widely watched 200 day moving average which I wrote about on yesterday.

Notice that this is third time in 2018 where prices have visited and kissed this line. Again, the line itself has no magic. No mystical powers. It’s just very widely watched and followed. And sometimes, it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy as computer-based algorithms gun for price to move down to the line to entice others to take action. On Monday, the bulls defended that area.

Anyway, as I wrote yesterday, I still do not think we have seen the bottom from which prices will rocket to all-time highs. It seems like we need some more work on the downside. While the masses were fretting about the tech bloodbath, I explained on Nightly Business Report last night that there are absolutely no indications that yesterday was anything more than one bad day, certainly not the end of the tech bull market.

In fact, as you can see below on the far right of the chart, price just declined to the horizontal blue line which is where bulls and bears fought a number of previous battles during 2018.

The pullback doesn’t appear to be over. There could or should be an attempt at a bounce even though the final week of June doesn’t have the greatest track record. If so, watching the sectors that lead will say much about what lies ahead. The signs for Q3 remain very positive.

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Bears Out of Hibernation

The bulls could barely muster a feeble bounce on Friday, especially after the Dow was down 9 straight days, something that does not occur too often in a bull market. Keep in mind, however, that those 9 down days only amounted to a 3.4% decline which is basically one or two bad days. Additionally, as you can see below, the Dow is once again visiting its average price of the last 200 days, more affectionately know as the 200 day moving average.

As many of you know, there is nothing magical nor special about the the 200 day moving  average except that it is widely watched as a gauge of the long-term trend. This is the third time this year that the Dow is visiting it. The Dow has been the weakest major index and this could be the beginning of the end for that underperformance.

Looking at the other four major indices, none of them are even close to their average price of the last 200 days which can be good or bad, but I think good in this case.  In the very short-term none of the major indices look to be at their lows just yet and opening indications are for an ugly down start to the new week. Seasonally, this week is negative which continues the trend from last week and right to quarter end on Friday. In all likelihood, stocks should trade lower before they bottom, but there is a good chance to see a low in the next 5-7 trading days.

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Don’t Get Fooled by Negative Nonsense

After an ugly opening stocks scratched and clawed to cut their losses on Tuesday, something I did not expect to happen. The bulls’ strength was impressive. I was hoping to see some follow through on Wednesday, but that did not materialize. The Dow Industrials remain the weakest index followed by the S&P 500, S&P 400, NASDAQ 100 and Russell 2000. I was clearly wrong in the glimmer of hope the value sector gave for new leadership. Their leadership will one day come, but not the past few weeks.

From a long-term perspective, the NYSE A/D Line continues to look strong and insulate stocks from a bear market, for now. Plainly put, we are seeing good participation in the rally.

And as I have mentioned over the past few weeks, junk bonds no longer stink. And believe it or now, they are even exhibiting some leadership characteristics.

While TV and the internet may be overwhelmed with negative commentary, things are just fine in the economy and markets. Don’t let the habitually wrong crowd fool you. The bull market remains alive and headed to 27,000 next quarter.

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Bulls on Their Heels, Unlikely Enough Strength to Muster a Stand

The bulls mustered enough strength on Monday to avoid closing anywhere near last week’s lows. That was mildly impressive. However, the Trump Tariff Tantrum is front and center today as it was on Monday as overnight action looks like a nasty 300+ point decline to begin Tuesday. Unlike yesterday, I will be surprised if the bulls have enough power and ammunition left to thwart the bears.

Taking somewhat of a stab in the dark, I would imagine a day where stocks open sharply lower, bounce for an hour or so, establish a range and then sell off again after lunch. If the morning lows are broken, there is potential to see a large down day, somewhere between 500 and 800 points. Obviously, there’s a lot of hyper short-term speculation in there. Again, the bulls would really surprise me if they had enough power to hold the decline to under 150 points on the Dow.

I mentioned bonds on Monday and it will be interesting to see if they have enough strength to trade above last week’s high. Yesterday’s action was not that great. IF they can get moving, it’s not out of the question to see the 10 year note yield below 2.80%.

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Trump Tariff Tantrum Again

Stocks came back from some mild morning weakness on Friday but still look like they want to pause to refresh as the on again, off again continuation of the Trump Tariff Tantrum is front page now. In the very short-term, it’s pretty easy. Closing above last week’s highs gives the bulls energy to move higher. Closing below Friday’s low means stocks could see a mild 2-3% pullback before heading to all-time highs in Q3. The seasonal trends show some weakness ahead as it is the week after option expiration with stocks in an uptrend. I believe the hat tip goes to Rob Hanna of Quantifiable Edges but I am not 100% sure.

While banks have pulled back and need to stabilize, semis are still okay but really need new highs. I keep writing about transports as they look like the next major sector to take off and lead. That’s still the case as they seem poised to run to new highs.

Bonds on the other hand, look like they have a little life, especially if they close above Friday’s high. The more the masses have become aware that rates have gone up so dramatically in absolute terms, the more I have been positive on bonds. While I continue to believe that the 35-year bull market in bonds ended in July 2016, there will be plenty of opportunities on the long side over the coming years and decades. It’s just like with stocks. While they have gone up, up, up for more than 9 years, they have been plenty of times to position for a move in the other direction.

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Bears May Have Reason to Celebrate But It Will Be Short-Lived

On Wednesday with most of our tried and true Fed Day trends muted, I mentioned the possibility for a negative set up. With the S&P 500 down on statement day, that set up a shorting opportunity for yesterday, today and into next week. Nothing big, just some potential mild weakness after a very nice run into the Fed meeting.

If any weakness does materialize, it will be interesting to see if tech cedes leadership in favor of value. With the NASDAQ 100 it certainly doesn’t appear that way and my call for a change in leadership in favor of value does seem a premature and a bit foolish. Speaking of the NASDAQ 100, I am a little  bothered that semis remain below their highs. That needs to be watched closely for signs of a more serious divergence and warning. Investors have been more focused on software and internet which is okay in the short-term.

Looking at the other three key sectors, banks remain mired in a trading which I continue to believe will resolve itself to the upside next quarter. Transports have been strong and leading and should also see all-time highs next quarter. Consumer Discretionary has been the strongest leader over the past 6 weeks, but I would imagine the upside acceleration begins to slow sooner than later.

Finally, as I started to mention late last week, high yield bonds no longer stink. They have been kicking it up a notch of late, but still remain nowhere near their 2017 highs.

The bottom line. Any short-term weakness should be bought.

 

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Leadership A Changin’

Stocks appear to be shrugging off the reversal I wrote about last week, pretty much as expected. There is a lot of the news docket this week with the Fed meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the summit in Singapore with North Korea. While the latter will be all the focus, the former has a much better chance of moving the markets. You should expect another special Fed edition shortly.

Over the past week or so, index leadership in the stock market has been showing signs of changing. While the Dow has been lagging for most of the year, it is perking up in the short-term and it is now rated number one against the S&P 500, S&P 400, Russell 200 and NASDAQ 100. After that, the S&P 500 and S&P 400 are essentially tied with Russell 2000 and NASDAQ 100 bringing up the rear. This probably comes as a surprise since the last two ranked indices have been leading the rally and the Dow has performed the worst.

Getting a little more granular, value stocks seem to be finally attracting some interest over growth. It’s been a long, long time with large cap looking slightly better than mid cap. Could the FAANGs be losing a little luster?!?!

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ANOTHER Reversal

While stocks opened higher on Thursday, the bulls couldn’t hold on to those gains as the Trump Tariff & Trade Tantrum sprouted up again. With the G7 meeting this weekend, stocks are probably going to pause and let tensions cool off. As headlines and tweets crossed the wires, stocks gave up those early gains and for a few hours, selling was strong.

Below is a chart that has become all too familiar. It’s the Russell 2000 Index of small cap companies and it shows all of the “key” reversals this year which are marked by stocks rallying early and then selling off into the close. Technicians often fret over these as they are usually seen before corrections set in. However, they are also seen many, many other times without much downside follow through.

Stocks have had a nice run. Any small pullback or pause would probably be healthy. The bull market isn’t over and Dow 27,000 is in sight for Q3. Remember, the S&P 400, Russell 2000 and NASDAQ 100 have all made new highs. Just the Dow and S&P 500 are remaining. The market is quietly strong and there has been little fanfare, especially from the media. I expect that to change when the two lagging indexes make new highs.

And even junk bonds are perking up a little…

Have a fun and safe weekend! Little League playoffs tonight. Practice tomorrow assuming we win. High school softball state championship on Saturday. Baseball double header on Sunday plus the usual errands.

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Bulls in Charge. Oil Corrects

With the elevator pattern broken, stocks have enjoyed a nice rally since Friday. The Dow Industrials are FINALLY getting off their rear end and seem poised to visit 25,100. All of the other major indices are well above that comparable level with the Russell 2000 and NASDAQ 100 at new highs. The S&P 500 and S&P 400 are gearing up for new highs. Markets are much healthier with the Dow lagging than leading.

Sector leadership is strong and improving. The NYSE A/D Line continues its new highs ways. Even stinky junk bonds are participating a little bit. If I had to pour some cold water on the rally, I could say that we saw one single day where option traders were on the euphoric side, but that’s really it.

Crude oil is now down more than 10% in two weeks, but no one seems to be noticing, certainly not the transports. One of the great market myths is that energy and transports move in opposite directions. Yet another myth that data don’t support.

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Follow Through???

Stocks ended last week with a solid up day, completing four days of down, up, down, up. The elevator ride may try to end today as stocks are poised to rise at the open. We will have to see if we get a run throughout the day or if they fade and end up in the red. With earnings season over and the biggest economic report of the month already in the books, only the inflation data are left before the Fed meets to hike rates next week.

Taking a peak at the major stock market indices, the Dow Industrials remain the weakest. They need to close above 25,100 to set the stage for a run towards the old highs. The S&P 500 looks charged up for at least another few percent rally, if not a full run towards the old highs. The S&P 400 and NASDAQ 100 are but one good day from new highs while the Russell 2000 continues its run in blue skies territory. In short, stocks have paused, regrouped and want to move higher. That doesn’t reconcile some of my short-term models being negative, but price is always the final arbiter.

On the sector front, all key sectors except banks are behaving very well and should rally towards their old highs next quarter with semis leading the way. Energy should also follow suit. I am not liking the action in materials, industrials and healthcare, but it is very late in the bull market and I won’t be surprised if some sectors have already peaked. Before stocks finally peak, I do expect to see much better behavior from the defensive groups, staples and utilities.

In case you’re wondering, the NYSE A/D Line continues to score fresh all-time highs. Remember, I may be a broken record (remember vinyls???), but 90% of bull markets do NOT end with strong participation like this!

And finally, yes, junk bonds still stink. I am concerned that this vital sector has seen its bull market peak.

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