Slope of Hope Blog Posts

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It’s Quiet… TOO Quiet (by David Kern)

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sc-1Friday was a very interesting day for technical analysis.  I'm going
to make the case that the market is currently close to fair value – I
don't think we're overbought right now.  That's not to say I'm not
currently bullish – my portfolio
is 100% long right now, and I'm taking that position because demand
is currently overpowering supply.  The trend is up, but the current
value is sitting near equilibrium.

I routinely look at the volatility index, or VIX.  This is the
measure of fear in the market, and directly influences the prices of
options.  Notice how it's falling back toward normalcy.  In fact,
current levels of the VIX (ranging 15 to 35) are fairly normal.  This
tells me that a lot of the fear is leaving the market, and that the bad
news has been factored into prices already.  That's not to say it's "up
up and away" from here, but for those perma-bears expecting the world to
suddenly wake up and dump their portfolios… don't hold your breath
(pending any new global disasters).

Screen shot 2010-06-19 at 7.49.22 AMSo why am I saying that
it's too quiet?  Friday was "quadruple witching", meaning that contracts
for stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single
stock futures all expired after trading ended.  This usually results in
big market swings, as market makers (and market manipulators) attempt
to close out their positions profitably.  This complex and
interconnected machine of hedging and derivatives usually makes for a
wild ride.  Yesterday – not so much.  See attached chart for my notes.

Friday morning I took a look at some measures of "maximum pain" –
it's a calculated price that would minimize losses for the market
makers.  Stock and index values have an uncanny habit of settling at or
near the max pain, especially on quad or triple witching Fridays.  This
will usually work to erase some of the gains from a sustained rally
(notice on my chart what happened in March.)  The interesting thing
about yesterday is that nothing much happened: low volume, small range,
and max pain for the indexes I looked at implied the day would be
unchanged.  I think what this tells me is that the market is
currently close to fair value, and where it goes from here depends on
the conviction of the buyers or sellers.

My focus as always is on the measures of supply and demand. 
Currently, the NYSE bullish percent is rising – showing that buyers are
overpowering sellers.  In fact, all of the bullish percents I monitor
with the exception of the NASDAQ, the financial sector, and the tech
sector are all showing strong up trends.  This is the #1 key
consideration for which side of this market to be on – don't fight the
trend, and the bulls are in control right now.  The strongest sectors as
far as bullish percentage goes right now are Telecom (66%), Utilities
(62%), Industrials (60%), Healthcare (57%), and Consumer Staples (56%).

sc-2I think the weekly chart
for the S&P 500 gives a hint at what might be reasonable to expect:
some resistance at around 1150, but I expect the bulls to have the gas
to above 1200.  I think the 1030 to 1045 range has shown undeniable
buying support, and there is a clear double bottom established.  I
wouldn't short this market.

This week has solidified my confidence in going long the market. 
Expect me to transition away from sector ETFs into strong individual
stocks this week.  I'll add the new positions to my portfolio posted here!

Key Week Ahead

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One thing is for sure. Someone is going to be very disappointed this week.

Whether it's the bulls or bears remains to be seen. One thing is indisputable: the fear (or excitement, if you prefer) in May about falling stock prices has abated, as the VIX plainly illustrates. We have returned to pre-freakout levels, which peaked late in May at over twice the levels we're seeing currently.


Looking at the index graphs during the sunrise of this beautiful Tahoe morning, I see they all look largely the same – – that is, they have retraced (or nearly retraced) to levels similar to those of January. People are beating the head-and-shoulders thing to death, but I don't blame them. Some of the index graphs look like textbook H&S patterns (and this one is much, much bigger than the famed failed one of last summer), although the stronger indexes, like the NASDAQ Composite below, look more prone to a deformed right shoulder (and, to my mind, an invalidated pattern) than others.


Some of the charts are more compelling. The MidCap, for example, is at a very interesting price level both from a horizontal line measurement as well as its Fibonacci arc. I really try to avoid declaring when a market is at a "pivotal" point, but this truly seems like one of those times.


The same can be said of the Russell. Look at the two broken trendlines below. The first one, which is more sharply ascending, was broken in January, and its former role of support changed neatly into resistance. The flash crash broke the second trendline, and now we are positioned for what could be a very dramatic drop. If early next week gives the market enough strength to violate the horizontal lines we see all over the place, I think the aforementioned drop is going to be delayed several weeks.


The energy market, coupled with the Euro, is what's driving all the price action. I find the $OIX (oil and gas index) chart to be quite interesting, because it has flipped back underneath its long-term 50% Fibonacci retracement. It was below this level until September 2009, and it remained above it until May 2010. It seems to me we are clearly back into the lower range now.


Finally, the OIH (energy) chart, which is a very clean topping pattern that peaked on precisely the day of the Deep Horizon explosion. We see yet again the past couple of weeks have provided the bulls with a heartening retracement. I believe there is a very real chance that this retracement is exhausted, since so many indexes have returned to key breakdown levels.


That's it for me today. I'm going to be doing a ProphetCharts speech in Sacramento today, and I'm going to spend the rest of the day with my family. Thanks for stopping by!