Selling the Bounce

Let’s start with my conclusion and then work backwards. Nothing has changed over the past few days, weeks and even months. I still view stocks positively the farther out you go. The short-term remains murky, uncertain, questionable and any other adjective that is less than flat out bullish.

One of my chief concerns, sentiment, has begun to reset itself at least to neutral from the overly enthusiastic category. Sentiment surveys have improved as have the put/call ratios in the options market. On the flip side, stock market internals have been downright putrid. When I say “internals”, I am referring to the number of stocks going up and down each day along with how many stocks are hitting fresh 52 week highs and lows. Additionally, high yield bonds, one of my favorite canaries in the coal mine have seen five straight days of heavy selling, which is not comforting.

While it’s possible that the market pullback ended yesterday with stocks off to the races again today, I just don’t think that’s the most likely scenario. Rather, it looks like most of the major indices will remain in their trading range with perhaps one or two popping quickly to new highs. If that’s the case, I would rather be a seller into such strength than a fresh buyer.

Sector leadership is very favorable right now for future gains, with the exception of the transports, once we get by this continued period of digestion and consolidation. It’s not the time to get bearish, just to be a bit more cautious and selectively prune into strength. Better opportunities are not that far off.

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American Pharaoh Begins the Week at the Highs

The bulls begin the new week a little higher than this time last week and within striking distance of all-time highs in the Dow, S&P 500 and S&P 400. Not a single thing has changed in my bullish intermediate and long-term outlook. The stock market should continue higher on its way to Dow 20,000 with periodic bouts of weakness to keep everyone honest. As I have been writing about since early 2012, any and all pullbacks should be viewed as  buying opportunities until proven otherwise.

Depending on how you view the last six months, stock have either been digesting since early February or as far back as November. Ultimately, the market should resolve itself to the upside. In a perfect world, we would see sufficient negative sentiment build up to give stocks enough juice to blast higher, but it doesn’t always work out so neatly. While they certainly could run higher from here, I don’t believe this is blast off time just yet. That day is coming though. Rather, I think we’re stuck in this mean reversion market where buying weakness and selling strength (breakouts) is the name of the game for now.

Leadership continues to evolve and the banks seem poised to finally take the torch for the next leg of the bull market. If the semiconductors and transports can also step up, we could see the makings of a very powerful move across the board with consumer discretionary already driving the bus. That would be the best of all bullish worlds, but it’s putting the cart before the horse.

Speaking of horses, what an amazing performance by American Pharaoh at the Preakness on Saturday. Once the skies opened up and the torrential rains hit, I thought for sure that she would really struggle on the muddy track. And in the middle of the race, it looked like she was starting to run out of gas. But as she turned for home and came down the stretch, it looked like she kicked it into a gear no one had ever seen before and ran away with the race. We all know the people at the Belmont couldn’t root any harder as a win at the Preakness means a windfall day for New York in a few weeks.

Could American Pharaoh have some similarities to the stock market???

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Blue Skies

Another day, more blue skies for the major stock market indices. The pain for the bears has to be strong and growing, but I have yet to see evidence that they are throwing in the towel en mass. And price action has done absolutely wrong to suggest anything more than a trading pullback.

As I mentioned the other day, I think it pays to be a little more vigilant here, not that I think we are going to see a full fledged correction or the need to make outright sales to raise cash. Sentiment has grown a little complacent and stocks are at all-time highs, sometimes an ingredient for a quick pullback. However, the plan remains the same. Until proven otherwise, pullbacks are buying opportunities.

The longer the market can go without giving up significant gains, the more likely the resolution will be sharply higher. As a bull, it would be great to see some sideways action for a week or so and then another blast higher to really squeeze the bears. Ultimately, I still believe that stocks will experience a major blow off to the upside before the bull market ends, however, it doesn’t look like that’s right here.

Sector leadership continues to rotate in an intermediate-term positive fashion with REITs, utilities and staples all ceding to consumer discretionary, semis, biotech.

Gearing up to visit Jeff Macke and the good folks at Yahoo Finance tomorrow and then see my old friend Melissa Francis at Fox Business on her show MONEY.

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Bulls Step Up… Kinda Sorta

What a great day I had in New York with my friends at Yahoo Finance and Fox Business. In all, there should be five segments posted over the coming week. I began the day at Yahoo with Jeff Macke doing a piece called The Rally Has Begun and Here’s How to Play it. Click on the link and let me know what you think. This was the “calmest” of the three segments!

Changing gears, here are some comments from recent action that dovetails nicely with the Yahoo piece.

A few days ago, I discussed how the stock market was oversold in the short-term and due for a bounce, but that a better intermediate-term low was probably near here yet. With a wicked reversal on Tuesday and follow through on Wednesday, the bulls drew a line in the sand and stepped up. This action was important in preventing prices from snowballing lower. Stock market behavior around tax day hasn’t been that kind to the bulls historically, so it was good to see the tide stemmed.

Several things continue to concern me looking out beyond a few days or weeks. We still have not seen the fear index (VIX) even pop above 20, let alone show real despair. Over the past year and change with almost  no downside, the VIX spiked north of 21 at bottoms. Treasury bonds continue to make new highs for 2014 and even closed slightly higher today when they should have been down 1%. Whether it’s looming trouble in the Ukraine or a slowing economy, it’s not a positive for stocks.

Finally, sector leadership has viciously rotated and the new leaders are indicative of the final stage of a bull market. Energy, REITs, staples and utilities continue to push higher.

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