$SPY – Santa leaves behind a “fast up” rally

Despite AAPL’s bite of the Santa rally two days ago, it appears the rapid bear-market rally that began the day after Christmas has gone on to a bigger thing.

That is good news and bad news for the bulls. The good news they have received remarkable relief from the drubbing in the fall. The bad news is this rise still looks like a typical bear-market rally. Just as bull markets grind up, then drop hard, then grind up again and so on, bear markets tend to grind down, rise up fast, then grind down again and so on.

This up swing truly fits that later description.

On the plus side, both short term and long term breadth have had a screaming flight out of the massive oversold low to a massive overbought high (see the chart below). That breadth blast has a lot of analysts commenting on the history of “breadth thrusts” and generally indicating the market has had its correction, maybe even an entire bear market when the S&P tapped a 20% decline (for one day).

That may turn out to be so but I doubt it.

I suspect this more likely just a bounce on the road to the next grind down, but it could go up more or chop sideways for a while before the grind begins again. Margin debt has likely not finished its fall (we won’t know how far it has to go until its reported for December at the end of this month) and that means more downside to come (take what just happened in November and December and do it again).

But, granted, this has been a spectacular rise with the 3x-leveraged TQQQ up 26%, TNA up 32%, UPRO up 23%; and leading the leveraged sector ETFs, LABU (biotech) up 67.5%, ERX up 35% and FAS up 23%.

NFLX, among my bellwether stocks, is the star of the show so far in this rally , up 32.5%.

This is eight days in the market and again prime example of the value of swing trading over buying and holding through declines. There are numbers in stocks’ advances during these last eight days that would make an asset manager’s entire year (and maybe will). Forty-eight of the stocks in my nifty-50 list are on buys. Today 43 of the 50 were up. And finally 40 of them are overbought.

And SPY itself is coming into the 255/260 resistance suggested here when this rally kicked off.

So what now?

Probably more upside but it would be prudent to set stops to preserve swing profits. I’ve cautioned in the posts below that this longer term is a relief rally, and likely just the kind of rally the market uses to make everyone believe it’s the resumption of the multi-year bull.

The key here is go along for the ride but guard against being fooled by how fast the up.

(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)

$SPY $TQQQ – if Santa’s rally is coming to town…

It appears it started today and triggered the likelihood of more to come tomorrow…

This should be a rally all the way to Christmas and possibly a bit beyond.

Why?

Because the market has been pounded hard to the downside since, in some index cases, early October. But more importantly short-term and long-term breadth, measured by the McClellan Oscillator and Summation Index (see the chart for today below), has simultaneously given buy signals for tomorrow’s, Tuesday’s, open. And they have done it with a telling divergence – see on the chart how deep the breadth plunge was on the lows in late October, and how the breadth numbers failed to confirm the price lows at the same levels last week.

In addition, my nifty-fifty stock list had 44 sells on the first plunge (usually the sign of a swing bottom) but could not muster more than 39 on sells during the last sell-off. Forty-five of them are now on buys.

I have major 3xleverage ETFs giving new individual buy signals for tomorrow’s open – FAS, SOXL, FNGU, TNA, TQQQ, UNPRO — and major bellwether stocks doing the same – AMZN, NVDA, TWTR, GS, BABA, FB. But neither TSLA nor NFLX can be ignored on any market bounce.

While AAPL missed an individual buy signal today by a whisper, this market is not going anywhere without it. However, I see, it closed at 174 and is down to 170 after-hours (a better bargain?). That AAPL has an after-the-close sell down raises the possibility the downside is not yet done.

Highly likely we are now in a bear market with Finra (NYSE) margin debt unraveling. If so, there’s going to be downward pressure on this rally almost every day. This is the time for traders to take advantage of sharp upside bounces like today and for long-term investors to lighten up on their holdings if not to get out completely. Every time margin debt has come apart (and this time it is from a higher level than both 2000 and 2007) the SPX has lost 40% to 50% before the bear market ended in 2003 and 2009. See this LINK – the divergence that kills the bull.

Bear-market rallies tend to be fast and furious so we’ll see how this one goes, but if it is truly a bear-market rally, it will as time goes by take a lot of time to recover from the its eventual bottom whenever it comes and at whatever price level.

(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)

$UNG – Natural gas may flame out here but what a run!

Today looks like a blow-off high but…

But UNG (US Natural Fund) sure has given a lesson in what can happen on a technical breakout from a flat base, from 27.5 to 39.5 in eight trading days (see the chart below). Kind of crazy.

I guess it’s a weather report for a cold, cold winter.

Regardless, it’s going to be a buy-the-dips play for some time to come. One would think has to settle down some first or there is going to be a lot of risk, either long or short.

On a contrarian note: aggressive traders might want to look to short it as soon as it stalls, for at least a scalp and possibly a worthwhile dip, with a stop loss to cover at the high of the move at whatever level that is when the time comes.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

A falling $BID takes its toll…

Sotheby’s (BID), the art-auction house, has always been a telling market indicator.

It often confirms the market’s direction when the stock and the indexes are in sync but more importantly it sometimes leads at the turns, not at the exact turns in the shift from bull to bear and back again but as a warning, often far in advance (see the chart below).

When BID is no longer in sync with the general market, it is time to question the market’s current direction.

I have written about this before in this link:

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

If the question is actually relevant, one could argue that when the rich quit buying art, it won’t be long before they are selling stock.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$AAPL giveth, Apple taketh away…

There has not been much to say about AAPL these last couple of years as it’s made a near parabolic rise and taken the entire market with it.

Its phone has made the company tons of cash and still does. And it has used a lot of the cash to buy back its own stock, by some accounts as much as $300 billion to propel it past an unprecedented $1 trillion market cap.

But there-in, as far as the stock is concerned, lies rub. Most likely Apple has been and still the biggest buyer of AAPL. It been a mugger sticking a phone in the face of investors and saying give me your stock.

What if it ends up being essentially the only buyer?

And despite all of the fundamentals in favor of the company, those fundamentals can not go on forever. AAPL has been competing with itself for years (now there’s a business plan…) but now others are joining in are beginning to take a toll, and the iPhone keeps getting more and more expensive, and the tax breaks it gets or maneuvers for itself will balance out eventually, and evidently the biggest fundamental of all is still and maybe will always loom over the company – Steve Jobs is still dead.

As AAPL eventually and inevitably falls, the larger question arises: Since it is in all of the big three indexes – the DOW, S&P and Nasdaq — will it take the general market with it to the downside the way it has to the upside?

(click on the chart for a larger view – update 1/2/2019)

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)

#MarginDebt – the divergence that kills the bull

I been taking note of margin debt, now recorded monthly by FINRA, since last spring with the warning that it was at astronomical levels in relation to itself in 2000 and 2007.

One early post solely on margin debt this spring noted that the market was likely to make new highs while margin debt failed to the do the same (see the charts below). It is difficult to time precisely when this distribution is going to matter since it is always reported a month late. During lag, one can only speculate what it going on it with behind the scenes, so to speak.

Linked here,I called that:

Declining Margin Debt – the bullish scenario

And linked here more recently on October 1, it was suggested this may be the month when debt takes its toll:

Margin Debt – a sign of quiet desperation?

It’s been noted in posts here that even as the market moved up to new highs it appeared during the day that there was selling going on. I guessed that was big players were trying to edge off margin debt. Behind the scenes the advancing stocks were narrowing, the new lows at the bottom of the market were beginning to outpace the new highs at the top. Everywhere there were signs – wackiness was going on all over the place., marijuana stocks became the leading sector, some low priced stocks, like YECO, would go up 500 percent (in a day!); one by one bellwether stocks, FB, NFLX, TSLA, AMZN and finally even AAPL took hits; the housing stocks have been declining all year and finally banking stock have joined them.

In that October post above, I called this late stage the “most bearish bull market” I’ve seen.

But now margin debt is finally the revealed rub.

Each time the levels of margin debt in 2000 and 2007 became unsustainable, the subsequent decline led to bear markets in which the S&P 500 index declined 40% to 50% (see the charts below), and now when it drops it will be dropping from an even higher height.

Can a 40-50% bear market happen again? You can bet half your portfolio on it.

Once margin debt begins to unravel, it will feed on itself — when the margin calls come, it is either put up more money or sell the stock. Selling the stock drives it lower and brings more margin calls. Nothing else will matter, not fundamentals, not news, not hopes, not dreams.

Why is this important? Depends on one’s age. When it happens, it will take years and years – five years? eight years? 13 years? – to recover the prices the indexes are at right now.

It appears, now that we can see the new high in the market and the fact the margin debt did not follow, that process has begun behind the scenes, so to speak.

Of course big bull markets can fool (see 2016 in this one on the charts below), and might try soon since the market is currently deeply oversold and the Christmas season is traditionally bullish, but it can’t fool history forever. History is the best indicator of the fear-greed-time market psychology there is since it repeats and rhymes all through time. In the end history will tell.

(click on the charts 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)