#MarijuanaStocks – gains are high in the weed patch

The vast majority of stocks move with the market. And some stocks move more than others, both up and down.

Take the marijuana stocks as the prime example.

At what may have been the end of the bull market last August, this newcomer stock sector was leading the market (a telling sign the bull was getting too high) and with the fall in the Fall, its stocks all went down together.

Even the sector’s leaders took a drubbing CGC, which Constellation Brands had just put a ton of investment money into, dropped from a high of $59 to a recent low of $24. TLRY, an extremely hot IPO screamed crazily from its IPO price close of $22 to a high of $300 in two months (its founder may have been the fourth richest man in the world for one day…on weed) and then plunged to an almost still respectable low of $70.

What fundamentally changed at those companies in the three months the market sold off and took them down? No much, if anything at all.

So coming into the market bottom, that was an obvious vibrant sector that needed to be watched for a big bounce.

And, indeed, the marijuana stocks have not disappointed any swing traders looking to make bear-market rally plays (see the chart panel below). Since the December 26th blog buy signal here, CGC has rocketed 52%, CRON 27%, GWPH 31%, ACB 37%, and TLRY had gained 37% until it was knocked down to a “mere” 13% gain in today’s action.

That hit on TLRY today is why I bring all this up now.

There is speculation TLRY’s drop was caused by fear that an expiration of the lock-up period on IPO insiders would bring on selling, a self-fulfilling prophesy if ever there was one but then most moves in the market usually are. With the exception of GWPH, the granddaddy stock in the sector, the rest of the stocks took hits in one way or another today along with TLRY.

It was on some news, profit-taking, whatever, but it was a hit in the leading sector on a market up day. That is an alert.

In the blog post below the suggestion was and still is to play defense, defense, defense during this rapid rise in the market because of the likelihood this is a bear-market bounce that can go ragged at any moment, and in some sectors die on a dime.

Bull markets end and bear markets begin on one down day. And sector rallies do the same.

Today may or may not be the end-of-the-swing day in the weed patch, but it turns out to be, as we used to say in the 60s and 70s and the bear can growl now: “Don’t bogart that joint, my friend.”

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

$SPY $QQQ – Defense, defense, defense…

With $SPY up 5 days in a row and 8 of the last 11, and with the Nasdaq up 5 days in a row and 10 or the last 11, short-term breadth turned down today…

How many times have we seen that before?

In addition, my nifty-50 list of stocks started to turn on Tuesday from 48 buys (and 40 overbought) on Monday to 22 on buys (and none as yet oversold) today. CNN Money’s Fear and Greed Index has finally, begrudgingly it seems, managed to crawl out of its ‘extreme fear” reading to a mere “fear” reading today.

This was been a spectacular bounce from extreme fear but at this point maybe too spectacular. Almost every index is up five days in a row. The Nasdaq Comp is well beyond two standard deviations of an average advance when one is usually enough to throw the advance into a pullback or a sideways slide (see the upper red line on the chart below). And that’s despite the AAPL news blip in the middle of the rally.

SPY has also moved that much but that ETF, mirroring the S&P, has reached strong resistance at its 260 level.

Usually, this would be called “too far, too fast.” This time it looks like “too much, to soon.”

A lot of shorts have been scorched. A lot of traders are sitting on big gains in no time at all. TQQQ for example is now up 35% in the past 11 days, NFLX 38% and looking to gap up more tomorrow. There’s momentum in those numbers so I suspect there will be more upside to work it off but at the moment with a hint from a slight falter at an astronomical level from short-breadth it could be time for a dip.

One suspects those left behind on this bounce are beginning to believe it’s more than a bounce, and one suspects long-term holders are holding their breadth in the hope it is (sorry, boys, just look at how far anything is from its high and it’s overbought already?).

The market can go up as high it wants and for as long as it wants, of course, but this really looks like as good as time as any for a dip, probably tomorrow.

And since this appears to be a typically fierce bear-market rally, any dip can get carried way with itself and become a dose of despair…the play is defense, defense, defense…

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$AAPL – a Santa rally revisit

On the way to writing what was intended to be a cheery progress report on the buy signal posted here Christmas Day the bear took a bite out of the after-market and had an AAPL for dessert.

AAPL has plunged after-hours as CEO Tim Cook lowered earning guidance in a surprise announcement after the close.

This was forewarned here last November in this post:

AAPL Giveth, AAPL Taketh Away

I’ve been an AAPL bear for quite a while because when a stock is priced to perfection one must remember perfection usually lasts less than the blink of an eye.

Before the news, the general market from the open of the day after Christmas on the buy signal in the immediate post below was is in a very sharp upswing, a true Santa Claus rally.

TQQQ on today’s close is up 20.6%, UPRO up 18.4%, TNA up 20%; among the sector ETFs, LABU is up 31.2%, ERX up 21.3% and FAS up 18.2%.

We’re talking five trading days here.

The bellwether stocks moved too – NFLX up 14.4%, FSLR up 8.1%, GS up 9.6%, and AAPL itself was up 6.5%.

And not a sell signal anywhere to be seen at the close, except maybe the fact after five-day up pattern in the index ETFs one had to be alert to a sell down and maybe the fact my Nifty-50 stocks list, which went from 48 stocks on sells to all 50 on buys in those five days, clicked down to 47 on buys today (a crack in the advance, but a very small crack indeed).

All that is likely to change tomorrow thanks to the AAPL news. In the link on AAPL above it was noted it would take the market with it when it fell given that it was dominant in not only the Nasdaq but also in the S&P and Dow, and it has been the most over-owned stock in the market.

Since August it has and appears it will again.

And it was noted in the Christmas Day post that in the general market this was going to be little more than a market bounce to give some relief to the bulls in a bear market, not a beacon of hope for a resumption of the bull.

Funny how news comes along to agree with market history, with market internals, with the relentless swings from fear to greed and back again, all in the fullness of time.

See the charts below for a look at the AAPL and TQQQ plunges after the close.

(click on the charts for a larger view)





#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)

$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)

$SPY #Options – Trending Day-Trade 32 for 166% in the “Fool’s Game”

When something looks too good to be true it usually is.

But so far not this year.

The day-trading strategy developed here last November and dubbed in earlier posts “The Fool’s Game” has now had 32 days like today since the start of this year.

Thirty-two trending days.

I define a trending day as any day the SPY calls or the SPY puts or a combination of both gain more than 100% on the day trade. All trades are long only. The 276 in-the-money put for today closed the day trade up 166% on each $10K traded (see the chart on the left below). There were no trades triggered in the calls.

This was one those great trending days that goes one way all day.

And by the way, the market, with today’s hard sell down, is now wildly oversold so the chance of bounce tomorrow is very high. I say that chance is about 85%, but that’s mostly a guess based on the past six months market action. No telling how high. There’s also about a 75% chance the bounce will be a one-day wonder.

For fun, I’ve included a chart of the “at-the-money” 277 Put for today below on the right just as a comparison between one strike and another on a day of expiration. The gain per $10K traded, $25,384 (also the percentage gain, 253%) is in the white flag on the lower right of the chart.

Obviously, the greater the risk the greater the reward.

Remember these posts are meant solely for entertainment purposes and for the educational purpose of showing what the possibilities are in options if one has persistence, experience and discipline. They are in no way be construed as any kind of direct or indirect trading or investing advice.

(click on the charts 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)

$SPY – Is the bouncing cat dead?

The general market has bounced from its low last Thursday.

The actual buy signal was issued on the market’s short-term breadth indicator for Monday’s open three trading days ago. In that time the 3x-leveraged ETF, TQQQ (the Nasdaq) is up 5.8% (the Nasdaq), UPRO (the S&P) is up 5.1% and TNA (the Russell small caps) is up 8.8%.

All this is fine and dandy in reaction to last week’s fast, severe sell-off.

Now the question rises: Is this a classic “dead-cat bounce”?

In stock market terms, as defined by Investopedia, “a dead cat bounce is a temporary recovery from a prolonged decline or a bear market that is followed by the continuation of the downtrend.”

Despite these last three days, the overall market hasn’t been able as yet to turn the all-important long-term measure breadth (the NYSI, the McClellan Summation Index) up, and today its short-term component (the NYMO) clicked down.

How many times have we see that before — the market pops out of a deep drop and the NYMO turns down in negative territory.

Dead cat? In addition the SPY ends today in a dreaded doji (see the chart below). Dead cat? Sure looks like it. If so, the market’s current recovery will roll over in short order…probably tomorrow. Maybe Friday (or maybe Friday too).

However, this is all could be (and probably is) a positive sign for swing-trading bulls. Since last week’s lows my nifty-50 stock list has moved from 40 stocks on sell signals (usually the bottom or the beginning of the bottom of a swing) to all 50 on buys yesterday. They clicked down slightly today (another sign of the cat) but the last time all this happened was March 5th at the end of the three-day bounce out of the March low. The cat that died that day gave rise in the end to the spring rally. If this bounce dies now, it very well could result in a bottom for a trading rally.

Such a rally may be, in the fullness of time, the last of this bull market and an opportunity for buy-and-holders to lighten up or to raise protective stops before the real bear growls, but it could also be a stock rally that rises all the way to the end of the year.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#SwingTrading – Up, down, sideways, sideways sideways…

It appears the market could go up tomorrow.

“Could go up”, I say that hesitantly because for end-of-the day swing traders like me, this has been a rather confounding week. On Monday, all of my swing signals (based on price, breadth, volatility) were on sells for Tuesday – Tuesday the intraday market went up. At the end of the day Tuesday all of the signals were on buys for Wednesday – Wednesday the intraday went down. At the close Wednesday, all of the signals were again on sells – today the market went up a lot.

Well, in SPY’s case it went back up into the Monday’s price range – in other words, sideways, sideways, sideways…

Although long-term breadth has not turned up, the low above a low in short-term breadth (see the circle on the upper portion of the chart below) usually will bring a bounce. That should happen tomorrow. And if long-term breadth turns up with it, the entire market could rally for a couple of weeks at least, which would be just fine and dandy.

If the market manages to put a final confounding candle on the cake tomorrow with a hard down day then…okay, I’ll say it, then we will have another indication a sizable bear may be stirring in its cave.

(click on the chart for a larger view)