Reading history on the #MarginDebt chart

For anyone who pays attention to FINRA margin debt this market crash was no surprise.

If there was anything surprising about what is now 30% plunge in the SPX, it was that it took so long to happen.

I had a clear warning here as far back as six months ago in this post:

Margin Debt – setting up a S&P 50% plunge?

Now all I can say is anyone who was not paying close attention to margin debt or was disregarding its warning was asking to get their stock profits ripped apart.

Once margin debt starts down, it feeds on itself with margin calls leading to stock sales and more margin calls leading to more stocks sales with each jolting decline in the market. And besides the profits lost, there is time lost, sometimes a lot of time lost, before the market can even begin to recover.

If we take a look at the history on the chart below it’s pretty obvious the divergences between margin-debt and price of the SPX foretells the market sell-offs. In 2000 and in 2008 margin debt dropped down (the black boxes on the chart) while each time the market went higher for a few months before plummeting. Again these last six months (another lower black box lower than the previous peak), history repeated.

Granted it’s hard to believe as the market keeps going up and up the bull will ever end — earnings seemed good, the Fed was on board, Trump was bragging on Twitter at each new high — but long-term investors could not ask for a better advance notice it was their time to sell or at least tighten their stop-loss levels to preserve capital. All this market needed was one small trigger for the full unwinding of margin debt to usher in a bear market, instead it got a big one. But if it hadn’t been the Covid-19 pandemic, it would have been something else.

Now that the bear market has begun, margin debt is indicating it is not done yet.

History says, like in 2000 and 2008/2009, the S&P500 is going down around 50% before this bear market is finished. If history repeats again, there is another 20 or so percent more downside to go.

Margin debt during this long bull market went higher than either 2000 and 2007 so there’s no telling how that’s going to play out. From its 2019 peak it has a lot farther to fall – and if the news keeps getting worse — since the US, thanks to a lying President and his incompetent Federal administration is getting a late start on coming to grips with the pandemic it’s possible it could be more than 50%.

If the dire damage being done to the economy is not mitigated sufficiently by a Congress that was supposed to have a stimulus package out last week and hasn’t managed get one done yet or if the stimulus is too small or if it’s aimed at the wrong people, we could be looking beyond a historical 50-percent decline to something more like 1932.

You ask me, we’re at a point when we need a Franklin Roosevelt in the White House and instead we’re still stuck with worse than a Herbert Hoover.

But as history shows on the chart, whatever the final decline is to be, it’s likely it won’t be until after a big bounce any a week, any day, any minute now.

This market is massively oversold and it’s a positive sign that governors and mayors, allied with scientists and health-care providers across the country, have taken over the front-line fight against the pandemic as Washington goes on dithering.

The trouble with the margin-debt numbers is they are reported a month late so one pretty much has to guess, based the price action during the month, where the debt level might be in the current month. While we can see the SPX crash here in March on the chart, the margin debt line is only up to date through February. I would assume from the current price action in March it’s now a lot lower, probably akin to that drop in 2008 marked by the black vertical line.

If so, we may be closer to a bear-market bottom (six months or so) than the pattern in 2000 (which took about three years).

Regardless, the bounce, which could be spectacular, is not going to be a resumption of the bull underwater long-term holders are hoping for. More likely it’s going to be a bull to be slaughtered so severely by the next bear move no one, as despair sets in, will be looking to buy any stocks.

In despair is when a new bull market can be born.

But I could be wrong. It could be different this time. Uh, huh…

(CLICK ON THE CHART FOR A LARGER VIEW)

$SPY – Up, up, up…and KERPLUNK?

Just got back from a week in New Orleans so if my head feels a bit thick, don’t blame me, blame the Nawlins’ food, drink, the music.

W.C. Fields once said: “I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.” New Orleans is a perfect city to not do the wastin.’

Anyway, the market after a break of its December/January uptrend line, took another shot and manage another high on SPY (among other index ETFs) last week but dropped back down below the January high (332.95) to close at 332.20 Friday.

Not such a big deal except the NYMO after the rally off a double-bottom earlier in the week (see the white line with the red dots on the chart below) fell with the price weakness to turn the all important NYSI (longer-term breadth) negative.

That’s an automate sell on its own but there’s maybe more…

In his book “Methods of a Wall Street Master,” Trader Vic Sperandeo says determining the trend is a simple as 1-2-3. One is the break of the trend line, which happened on the gap down from 1/24 to 1/27 (see the chart); two is the attempt to resume the recent trend that fails, which may have just happened; three is a fall back to through the low after the trend line break.

Since “three” hasn’t happened yet, there’s a chance, and maybe even the likelihood, the pattern here is just a pause before more advance but…

But Trader Vic Sperandeo’s has more. His most classic set up for aggressive traders is right here, right now. He calls it “2B”, as in “2B or Not 2B, that’s where the money is made.” The fade off the old high on Friday is the 2B, as pretty as can be (see the chart).

This a short.

And it is made all the better by the stop being close by at the old high at 334.20.

That simple. And if it follows through, without stopping out, it could be a great big KERPLUNK right at an all time high.

P.S. There’s also a bearish full moon today for those who put some store in such lunar signs.

(click on the chart for a larger view)
and

$TSLA – Update as its stock price launches like a rocket

Elon Musk launched his cherry red roadster into a Mars orbit last year.

TAKE A LOOK:

TSLA Roaster takes a space ride

Today he launched the company’s stock into a Wall Street orbit (see the link and charts below). You’ve heard it here before…

TWO YEARS AGO:

Is TSLA the best long term investment since AAPL?

AND NOW ON ITS LATEST EARNINGS:

(Click on the chart for a larger view)

#STOCKS – on $AAPL gone parabolic

At the risk of a massive understatement, let’s just say AAPL has gone up…a lot.

In fact one look at its chart below reveals is has gone parabolic.

Let’s define a parabolic move first. Basically, according the website, Prometheos Market Insight, when a stock makes a enough of a move to create three distinct supporting trend lines (see the green lines on the chart below), then accelerates, it is in a parabolic move (the red line on the chart).

There is both good news in that, and bad news.

The good news you own it, the bad news its latest rise is unsustainable. Although one can only guess when and at what level it parabola ends (the way it always is with that phenomenon), but when the inevitable end comes it will likely be violent and the stock could eventually go back to where the parabolic began.

At this point, a rough estimate of where it began in AAPL is around $230.

It’s hard to believe it will ever quit going up as it’s wildly (exuberantly) rising, but I would suggest there is no profit here until one sells.

Also, one other thing to keep in mind, AAPL today, according to Yahoo Finance, has a market cap of 1.377 trillion dollars. That in itself is unprecedented in market history, but it is also nearly $100 billion higher than next highest market cap, MSFT (but that as they say is another story).

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – with not much fanfare Santa slips into view

On a FED day as the Federal Reserve held firm on low interest rates, it appears the annual Santa Claus rally may have quietly slipped into view despite the tight trading of the past few days.

Possibly it’s even set up a for a fast move by the tight trading.

Appropriate timing, I guess, since it’s hard to fathom this market continuing to rally on anything other than the FED pump, pump, pump…

Regardless, the NYMO put in a low above a low today (see the chart below), to go along with the important NYSI’s rise for the past four days. That completes the breadth pattern that is a most reliable trigger for a sustained up swing.

Since the last time the NYMO put in a low above a low on October 8th, SPY has rallied seven percent.

I would venture to suggest about the only thing that could abort the rally would be the Tweeter in chief scattering the trade-talk sticks again. Reportedly he is meeting tomorrow with advisors to discuss the proposed Dec 15th tariffs against China. Since when has he listened to advisors? So anything can happen.

In the meantime, one has to respect the signals and be long, and buying dips, until further notice.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

Divergences don’t matter…until they do…

Over and over again, especially in bull markets, prices keep going higher despite divergences on internal indicators, but when a tumble comes, a “pull back”, even a crash and one looks back at its beginning there is usually a divergence there.

Or a cluster of divergences.

So as of today, we have one in CNN Money’s “Fear And Greed” Index. That index has been wildly over bought as prices have surged on most major indexes (in the SPY ETF surrogate for the S&P 500). It is back off, risen again and as of today put in its divergence by making a lower low while SPY has hugged its high (see the chart below). It is not infallible but if history do tell, it is a reliable context (not the red lines on the chart and subsequent market drops).

And wonder of wonders, the FINRA Margin Debt reading for October came out today (see the second chart below). It is a monthly and always a month behind so there’s always some guess work to be done in real time, but this reading is, indeed, ominous.

Besides having risen way beyond the debt levels of both 2000 and 2007 before those bear markets arrived, it has now been carving out a ledge pattern on its chart (sometimes called a bear flag) for the past few months as the market keeps rising into thinner and thinner air.

Why ominous?

Note it’s the same pattern that was in place as the market was making highs last time and, when it finally fell apart, it was the precursor of the bear markets in both 2000, and 2008. Is it different this time? Is it ever different this time?

History, history, history.

This is to say nothing of the divergences on the McCellan Oscillator (the NYMO) with its Summation Index (the NYSI) declining for the past 10 days even as the market as advanced.

Does this mean we’re about enter a bear market?

Maybe not, divergence don’t always matter. But if a bear comes roaring now there is a good chance when we look back to this day this cluster of divergences will have mattered.

(FEAR AND GREED – CLICK ON THE CHART FOR A LARGER VIEW)

(FINRA MARGIN DEBET – CLICK ON THE CHART FOR A LARGER VIEW)

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – 10/14-10/18

THIS WEEKS SHORT STRANGLES:

LAST WEEKS RESULTS:

A PERTINENT QUESTION ON TWITTER:

#ShortStrangles on Stocks 10/07 – 10/11

This week’s strangles:

Last week’s results:

(Percentage gains and losses reflect returns on cost of strangles, not margin needed for the trade.)

#Stocks – and out of the blue the brokerages fell…

Reportedly, this slam down in the brokerage stock is a result of Charles Schwab (SCHW) announcing a no-commission policy for online trade with presumably its competitors to follow.

And this is precipitated, according to reports, by the brokerage Robin Hood, which has been not charging for trades since its beginning. Robin Hood? Compared to these others, is that even a competitive trading house?

Regardless, SCHW, AMTD, ETFC, and IBKR are (at the moment) down either double-digit percentages or close to it in an out-of-the-blue across-the-board plummet. AMTD is down 23% (Holy cow!).

Whatever.

I would note the NYSI (long-term breadth) is falling. When it is, “accidents” like these often happen.

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)