#MarketTiming – $SPY ready for a Santa Claus Rally?

I’ve always been confused at what constitutes as”Santa Claus” or Christmas rally mainly because in bullish years, most years, the market rallies into Christmas and right on up into January so it’s hard to tell what is distinctive about Christmas itself.

This obviously is not one of those years.

SPY has come into Christmas in a free fall, eight consecutive days down (see the chart below), fueled by bad news (the usual Trump stuff) but mostly from being so ridiculously overbought and speculative something had to give. It is down now 20%, which makes this an “official” bear market.

My last post here was December 4th, 20 days ago. There has been no need to give a general-market update since the unraveling of margin debt has ruled this slam down and will likely keep doing so as the bear market continues its decline for some time to come.

So what about a Santa Claus Rally now?

Given the difference this year from so many others, I decided to seek out a simple definition of the possible phenomenon, went to Investopedia, Seeking Alpha, The Street, and eventually to Wikipedia which pretty much summed up all the others had to say:

A Santa Claus rally is a rise in stock prices in the month of December, generally seen over the final week of trading prior to the new year. It is a type of calendar effect.

There is no generally accepted explanation for the phenomenon. The rally is sometimes attributed to increased investor purchases in anticipation of the January effect, an injection of additional funds into the market, and to additional trades which must, for accounting and tax reasons, be completed by the end of the year. Other reasons for the rally may be fund managers “window dressing” their holdings with stocks that have performed well, and the domination of the market by less prudent retail traders as bigger institutional investors leave for December vacations.

The Santa Claus rally is also known as the “December Effect” and was first recorded by Yale Hirsch in his Stock Traders Almanac in 1972. An average rally of 1.3% has been noted during the last five trading days of December for the NYSE since 1950. December is typically also characterized by highest average returns, and is higher more often than other months.

The failure of the Santa Claus rally to materialize typically portends a poor economic outlook for the coming year; a lack of the rally has often served as harbinger of flat or bearish market trends in the succeeding year.

That last line in the quote is probably giving already-battered bulls further heart palpitations but let’s consider how oversold this market is and the chances of a rally coming.

Short-term breadth (the McClellan Oscillator) is near a level last seen at the February low this year and down four days in a row (four is a magic number) and at a level which usually generates at least a violent bounce if not an ultimate bottom of a down swing. My nifty-50-stock list has had 40 or more stocks on sells for two days now (48 on Friday, 43 yesterday, an uptick) — another sign, if not of the bottom of a down swing, or at least the beginning of a bottom. The VIX, solidly in bear-market territory above 25 has been screaming up for seven straight days. In standard deviations of average declines SPY is down more than has been seen in at least a year (I keep track of only a year). CNN Money’s “Fear and Greed” index is at two!

I guess what I’m saying is this market is down so far so fast it is bound to bounce any day, any minute… If short term breadth had clicked up Monday with the market at new lows I’d be more confident Santa is here with more than a lump of coal for the bulls, but one can not have everything, even at Christmastime.

I am a bear, and as recorded in these posts, have been pretty much from the top this year. With sector by sector falling apart, and stocks all over the place in bear-markets of their own, and the pot stocks becoming the leading sector at the end, it was rather obvious the bull was about to stumble and die.

But in the spirit of Christmas, let’s give bulls a bit of relief.

The last time I ventured a guess as to high an upswing might go, I suggested the 281 neighborhood (see the chart below) I’m not good at that kind of guessing but luckily nailed that one as SPY hit a high at 280.40 before ending the run around a closing 279. So I’ll venture another guess. If this is a fierce, multi-day run up into early January, in other words a “Santa Claus Rally”, it could get to the 250 neighborhood (see the chart) with 255 to 260 as formidable resistance beyond that.

(But, bulls, don’t let this bit of relief become a beacon of false hope, this will be, if it does come, another rally to sell.)

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarginDebt – The Reckoning has arrived…

You know those recaps that begin each new episode of TV shows with words like “Previously on Mad Men…Previously on Shameless…” or most appropriately in this case “Previously on Breaking Bad”?

For a year I’ve been watching for the end of this bull bubble and chronicled it’s slow rollover in the links in this link so let’s call this recap “Previously on Margin Debt”:

Margin Debt – the divergence that kills the bull

As has been noted before the trouble with this gauge from FINRA (it used to be from the NYSE) is that it is calculated and released always a month late. So during any given month one pretty much has to guess from price action what’s going on with the margin debt. Given how over extended it was, my guess October’s price action was probably finally killing the bull market (see the link above), and November would probably be the confirmation that the bear was out of it’s nine-year cave. Indeed, it was confirmation and the bear did emerge.

If one stares at the chart below for a while, it’s clear if history is any guide (at least based on the 2000 and 2007 bull bubbles) when margin debt comes apart it does not quit feeding on itself until the SPX declines 40 to 50 percent.

Ai-yi-yi, long-term holders!

But can this time be different? Of course it can. Margin Debt this time is coming down from higher levels than even 2000 and 2007. What if different turns out to be the same as 1929-1932? Talk about a “Presidential cycle” – the last “businessman” to be President was Herbert Hoover who presided over the worst bear market in history.

Different is never really different. It really means all things must change so that all can return to being the same.

America has had magnificent prosperity from 1945 to… Picking a time depends where one sits on the income inequality scale but I suppose for the vast majority of Americans the time was the 1980s when prosperity began to fray, the American dream began to fade. Read an telling opinion piece on this just yesterday – American Capitalism Isn’t Working. Needless to say it can be fixed but the fix is going to take a lot of year now. It’s going to be long climb back and we’ve not even hit bottom.

I could be wrong about this, of course, since market psychology can run amok even in the face of time and all sorts of fundamental foolishness.

In the meantime, as J.P. Morgan so famously put it “the market will fluctuate.” There will continue to be plunges to buy and bounces to sell. For those of us who actively play this game, that’s all that matters to make money.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$FB – run amok and tumbling down…

Facebook (FB) has been able to run on its own since being founded and going public.

So what, as it turns, does the company do? It runs amok.

As the NEW YORK TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORT revealed this week the company has been reckless and irresponsible and instrumental in the Russian invasion of the US 2016 elections, and its executives have “delayed, denied, and deflected” criticism through the entire controversy.

We’re talking sheer greed here, capitalism as its ugliest.

But it appears its time of running unfettered is up as Congress focuses on bringing regulations to finally make it responsible for the harm it has done and to insure that it does not do it again. In the end Facebook will be better off for it…or it will be dead (hard to believe? remember MySpace?).

As a result the FB stock (see chart below) has proved once again in financial markets’ store there all always both escalators up and escalators down,

Regardless, to state the obvious, while investors may see profits evaporate in fleeting time, traders can make money on both the ups and and the downs.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

UPDATING $RACE – Ferrari heading to the pits

This is a look back.

In August there was this post:

It’s been a great run for Ferrari but its $RACE is run

In which it was said:

If this race was hill climb, RACE obviously finished in the money.

Nothing like stair-steps in an uptrend.

But, a couple of observations: 1) the stock has not had a breakdown from a boxed consolidation until recently; 2) there’s also a small head-and-shoulder top formation inside the box; 3) when leader flag it’s a warning for the general market too.

So what now? It’s short the bounces until it makes a new high, and as long as it continues breaking to the downside.

And keep in mind this could be a warning in a possible transition from bull market to bear market.

Simply put, no stock goes up forever. At least not in a trader’s world. I’m sure Warren Buffet might disagree but then he’s been investing in a century time frame.

Since August, RACE has a rally back up to 140 and has rolled over as expected. That failing rally was the opportunity for long-term investors to take profits and get out.

See the chart below which has been updated from the chart in the link.

Obviously the trend has changed to a downtrend. RACE, step by step, is now building a down staircase.

Its race run Ferrari is pulling into the pits.

(click on chart for a larger view)

Five sessions in the marijuana stocks

Going into the market selloff last month, marijuana stocks were the leading sector in the market.

The stocks were flying on Constellation Brands certification of the sector’s profit potential with a $4-billion investment in Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC), then came Canada’s blanket legalization of the weed, Michigan in this election becoming the 10th state to legalize recreational uses in the U.S., following pot pioneers Washington and Colorado and others.

And now Jeff Sessions, the leading federal marijuana-legalization opponent, has been forced to resign as U.S. Attorney General. While Trump forcing Sessions out no doubt has more to do with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, it does have the side effect of removing another obstacle in the road to a possible national legalization.

The leading stocks in the marijuana sector surged today on the Sessions news but they were already on the run with the market bounce.

Long-term breadth (measured by the McClellan Summation Index) turned up after a 40-day decline on October 31st, giving a clear market-timing signal to buy the market on the open on November 1st, five trading days ago.

CGC is up 23.7%, TLRY 41.8%, CRON 29.2% and the ETF for the sector, MJ is up 16.9% (see the charts below, the white flags on the lower right tell the gains far per $100K invested).

In addition GWPH, a stable medical marijuana stock that has been around for a long time in the US, is up 8.9%.

All in five trading days. This sector is a perfect example of the splendid simplicity of the long-term breadth signal. Coming into the market selloff as a leading sector, it was highly likely (almost a certainty) that as the market’s drop stopped, the sector’s stocks would bounce fast and high…so to speak.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$LVS $WYNN – “No one knows how to bankrupt casinos like I do.”

I made up the quote in the headline on this post but I’d bet the first thought of everyone — EVERYONE — who read it was Donald Trump said that?!

He might as well have (maybe he has sometime in his daily incoherence). Before he got into the money laundering business with the Russian Oligarchs, he owned casinos in Atlantic City. They all went broke.

He doesn’t own any gambling palaces anymore but it appears as President he’d like to help bankrupt those of his friends as well, like a hobby on the side. Both Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn are big Trump supports. Or at least they have been. Looking at what’s happening to the shares of their companies, one wonders if they still are. If they are, what’s the matter with them?

This probably has to do with the way Trump has managed to get the Chinese to quit playing games of chance but who knows? Maybe it’s just his “golden touch” in casinos is contagious? Or maybe, a more obviously, it might be, as much as fools wants to tout the supposed merits of a businessman in the White House, every fool needs to remember the last one was Herbert Hoover.

The worst is likely not over for LVS and WYNN, and the down staircases like these here (see the charts below) are likely going to get built soon in a lot of other stocks, and a lot of market sectors (even now take a glance at housing stocks and bank stocks and place bets).

(click on the charts for a larger view)

$SPY – Can Orange Become The New Black Swan?

Four days up in a row for SPY and TNA while the Nasdaq, long the leader, now lags…

At the close of the day forty-one of the stocks on my nifty-50 stock list ended in the buy column with fourteen overbought.

Short-term breadth was up again but is now in overbought territory. Usually it takes time to unwind that even when it turns down.

Long-term breadth has been rising now for just three days, giving worthwhile advances in most everything — 40 out of the 50 stock on my list advanced today, and 41 or the 50 are positive on this three-day upswing. It should be noted if long-term breadth turns down now it will put in a fairly serious divergence with the SPY new high (see chart below).

Which bring us to the news?

I don’t ever trade the news but just taking in some market perspective one wonders if something is going to come along and blindside the complacency of this bull advance? Like the odd VIX spike today. Like AAPL gone crazy and possibly running out of buyers besides AAPL itself. Like some sector gone so frothy so fast it signals irrational exuberance has crossed over into insane exuberance (see the pot stocks in the post below).

Or like two of those closest to the jabbering President of the United States suddenly going down coincidentally on the same day, one with a guilty plea and flip, and the other found guilty on 80 criminal counts that could get him 80 years in prison. Trump claims always to be the best, be the greatest, know more than anyone else, likes setting records…how boastful can he be when his administration racks up more convictions than any other, including the Nixon administration?

What’s it mean to the market? As I write this, I see futures are down, with the Dow futures reversing the day. This bull market has been able over and over again to erase the overnight falls in futures. What if this time it doesn’t?

I guess then we might be able one day to look back and say: “Whattaya know…Orange
was the new black…SWAN!”

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$BID And $TIF – What do the rich folk do?

They buy stocks, and spend money on all sorts of luxuries – second, third, fourth houses, paintings, baubles, antiquities… Just about anything that can be had at auction or in blue boxes.

And when they quit… Let’s just say they pull the BID (see charts below).

As bellwethers of the future market action BID (Sotheby’s) and TIF (Tiffany’s) are always worth watching. The timing is not precise but when they are long and strong the bull market is strong also but when they fall they tend to fall ahead of time. BID particularly.

Just bringing this up since I happened to notice BID seems to have had quite a sell-off lately, and it appears TIF could follow with a lot of downside space to drop into.

Just a cautionary note to remind anyone used to bull-market stock moves that whatever goes up can also go down.

(click on the charts for a larger view)

Buying IPOs For Dummies

In the tradition of the “For Dummies” books, I give you the short and sweet on trading and/or investing in IPOs:

Buying into an IPOs is actually one of the easiest decisions in stock investing but never let a broker con you into doing it the day of the offering.

Instead, note the high price and the low price on the first IPO is traded. Those are the lines in the sand or the Darvas box around the first day of trading (see the charts below). The time to buy, invest, is on a close above the high of the first day with a stop loss below the high of the first day.

That is usually a low-risk trade since the real good news comes when the stock proves it can move up from all the hype surrounding the offering itself and if it falls back the stop to exit can close by and obvious – either below the high of the opening day or below the low of the opening day depending one’s own time parameters and risk tolerance.

Whatever the latest stock IPO, there is nothing more to say except maybe “Keep it simple, dummy!”

#MarketTiming the second biggest mountain in the stock market range

Great article and charts from Visual Capitalist:

VISUALIZING THE LONGEST BULL MARKETS IN THE MODERN ERA

If this current bull market can hold for two more months, it will become the longest bull market in the modern era, topping the dot-come bubble.

Uh, did I slip and say “bubble”?

The question, as always, is what comes next and when.

What comes next is obvious – what goes up also goes down. The “when” is the tricky part but it would seem the when is getting closer by the day. I find it hard to believe in percentage gain it can top the dot-com mania but it is possible. If it does, it’s likely the higher it goes, the farther it falls.

One of the most famous quotes in investing history is from Bernard Baruch: “I made my money by selling too soon.”

Might want to keep Baruch in mind as each market pundit, each brokerage analyst, each brokerage, continues to say invest now, invest for the long term, while staring at the second highest mountain in the great rocky stock market range.

(click on link or this chart for a larger view)