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)

#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)

$SPY – Market breadth takes a toll on a “Big Wednesday”

In surfing lore, there is the myth of “Big Wednesday.”

The myth was immortalized in the 1978 cult film “Big Wednesday,” written and directed by John Milius, who also wrote such movies as “Jeremiah Johnson”, “The Wind and the Lion” and “Apocalypse Now.” It was Milius’ contention elite surfers cannot acquire true greatness, legendary greatness, until they face and overcome the great waves, the legendary waves that rise and surge and rage along the California coast from out of almost nowhere. No one know why they come or when they come but as the movie puts it: “They always come on Wednesdays.” Maybe what Milius had to say about surfers should also be applied to market traders and investors.

Today was a big Wednesday in the stock market.

The Dow was down more than 800 points, the Nasdaq more than 300, the SPY nearly 100 points. Big moves out of, I guess one could say, flat surf on Tuesday.

Actually this was no real surprise.

There have been signs everywhere. The general market indexes have been rising in price to all time new highs for the past month in defiance of long-term breadth as measured by the McClellan Summation Index, the $NYSI (see the declining red dots on chart below). That was rather amazing to watch, particularly the way the NYSI kept falling day after day despite the lingering bullishness on the indexes, and in the end, as always, the NYSI took its toll.

In a head-to-head battle between price and market breadth (the sum of all stocks rising and falling) it may be hard to tell when the battle will end but it will end with breadth winning every time.

Long-term breadth is the most effective indicator of mass market psychology there is.

Even as market appeared to be rising on a few tech stocks alone — AMZN, FB, NFLX, NVDA, GOOGL and most notably AAPL — breadth was saying the bottom was falling out. When those stocks began to crumble (look up charts of FB, NFLX…), this day became all but inevitable.

Signs everywhere. Besides the obvious relentlessness of the NYSI, the economy-sensitive housing stock have been falling for months with the banks beginning to tumble with them (many of the banks broke major price supports today just like in 2007-2008); news low began to outpace new highs in late September and accelerated on October 4th (which also happened in 2007-2008); there were also rare whispers under the surface like the day the Dow made a new high while more than 50% of the SPX stocks were below their 50-day moving averages (last seen at the exact market top in 2007).

So is this the beginning finally of the bear market to come that is just as inevitable? Don’t know yet. The market can plunge farther now (as I write this it is in overnight futures trading); it could even crash. But it won’t be a bear market for sure until it rallies and that rally fails below the previous highs in the price of the major indexes.

I seldom have anything to say about fundamentals, since the technical trumps the fundamental every time, but probably I should mention when one considers what comes next, the here-and-now is a bull market that is ten years old, interest rates are rising, unemployment is at its lowest level in forever, margin debt in stocks is near its high and at an astronomical level; there has been a tulip craze in crypto-currencies, a mania in block-chains, and the strongest sector in the market right now is the weed patch, marijuana stocks.

If this is the death of the bull and the birth of a bear, everything I’ve just mentioned will not be with us much longer.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarginDebt – a sign of quiet desperation?

I gotta say, as a day trader, I’m beginning to wonder if this is the most bearish bull market ever – gap it up overnight with futures, sell it down all day.

I suspect this could be a sign some big boys are desperately trying to slip out of the market without anyone noticing, but what do I know about such machinations?

Needless to say, margin debt is at astronomical levels in comparison to 2000 and 2007. Since the chart below was published for August, the SPX has gone to a new high in September. We will not be able to see what margin debt has done at the same time since the data going into the chart calculation is assembled monthly (why is that?). But even if it goes to a new high also (a sure sign of continuing greed), it will only mean the bull market has more time to rise but also at an ever more risky height from which to fall.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

Bitcoin and its buddies on the blockchain

If ever there was a bubble that was obvious it was Bitcoin and its buddies – the other cryptocurrencies and finally the blockchain stock mania that lasted what…a week or so?

Every time someone would pump Bitcoin or whatever other Oreocoin someone dreamed up the night before last, I’d ask “Can you buy a snickers bar with that?” I suppose you can somewhere but I’ve yet to find anyone who has.

I thought this pseudo money would crash when it was reported that New Orleans lap dancers were having bar codes tattooed onto their breasts to be able to accept crypto-scans as tips.

Then along came the blockchain stocks (see the wild charts below), which is to say companies like Kodak (KODK) changing its name and tripling overnight, or Riot Blockchain (RIOT) which looked as if it was the brain child of two or three guys smoking weed in Colorado who became multi-millionaires almost as a drugged-out joke. Everyone tells me cryptos may go bye-bye but blockchain technology, stringing together each and every financial transaction, is here to stay. Of course, a million computers all over world grabbing and archiving when someone (say, in Latvia) finally gets to buy a snickers with a Bitcoin.

How much electricity goes into that single candy bar?

And of course, as history would have it (always), the obvious became utterly obvious when it all finally crashed.

These is just a nutty time, typical end-of-a-bull-market craziness. Keep that “end-of” in mind. It takes a while and it’s virtually impossible to pick a market top of significance but bit by bit the history of how it happens keeps showing up. AAPL hit a $1trillon market cap probably because the company has enough cash on hand to buy that prize for itself. Then AMZN hit $1trillion too – for one day.

One of these bellwether stocks — AAPL, AMZN, FB, good heavens GS –is going to take a tumble that matters and actually follow through to the downside while no one is really paying attention.

When that happens a bear will be here. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe today.

(click on the chart panel for a larger view)

An $AMZN trade that was a coulda, shoulda, but not a woulda…

Shared the chart below of AMZN around the internet after the close last night with the suggestion that this was an obvious setup to buy puts or sell calls.

It was prompted by this post here yesterday:

$AMZN – a leader stumbles?

The idea was that the stock would continue its stumble today (and maybe for a week or so). See the blue boxes marking the spots on the chart when that has happened before as it comes off overbought (the yellow color coding on the chart).

Since long-term breadth had just turned down after a long run up and everything in the market was pretty much overbought, it was likely there would also be market pressure on the stock besides it being overextended on its own. Then there was that history thing in play again – the best indicator of all since it repeats or rhymes or whatever but it mostly whispers what’s going to happen next again and again.

It was a trade for today’s open. The most aggressive and least expensive entry would be an in-or-at-or-just-out-of-the-money put expiring Friday.

I coulda and probably shouda but I did not trade this. In general I don’t like stock options, don’t like the spreads, don’t like the lack of liquidity when it’s time to close it out, don’t like the complications (all those Greeks and spread strategies). I like my options trading plain and simple – it either goes up or it goes down, it is either a call or a put. I trade SPY options.

I threw this out there last night for entertainment purposes primarily, and, as it turned out, it turned out to be quite instructive for anyone who does like stock options. To each his or her own way to play these money games…

AMZN had a big move down (as history whispered it would). The 1995 Put, expiring Friday, from the open peaked during the day up 260% and ended the day up 161% (see the companion chart below). That’s somewhere between $26,000 and $16,000 on a small $$10K capital commitment. Not bad for a day trade? This could drop more tomorrow making that put even more profitable but come on…it’s a home run with no need to risk an overnight reversal.

And besides, moves like this happen again and again, nearly everyday, somewhere in the market.

I didn’t even notice TWTR. Market-timing, options-trading bears must have made some serious money there today.

(click on the charts for a larger view)

$AMZN – a leader stumbles?

What if AMZN, after all the hoopla, only spends one day at a $1Trillion market cap?

As noted back on July 1, halfway through this year, in this link:

THE MARKET WALKS THE EDGE OF A LONG-TERM CLIFF

If a leading stock like AMZN stumbles…how mean will a reversion to the mean be? The stock’s 50-day moving average is nearly 150 points below today’s close (see chart below). Hard to believe in this the oldest of bull markets can end but a serious decline always begins with just one day down.

AMZN and AAPL have been the leaders. They both have had moves that resemble blow offs on this last upswing. Not often stocks as big as these run up 25% virtually out of nothing more than a buying panic. Now if AMZN follows today’s decline with more down to come, how long can AAPL alone hold up the market?

Just speculating here on a bit of market timing since it’s damn near impossible to call a market top, but more and more signs appear and one of these days one or the other of the signs will be telling.

Bear markets can come out of the blue. Out of the fog of complacency. Just when everyone believes the leading stocks and the bull itself can go up forever, they and it won’t.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – Pot stocks partying like it’s 1999

Canada legalizes marijuana and the stocks get high.

In the past ten trading days, with confirmation from long-term breadth as a market-timing signal, sector newcomer TLRY is up 200%, CRON up 97%, all up, CGC 50%, the sector ETF MJ (this might be the more reasonable way to play the sector), even long-term steady, GWPH, which actually makes money in medical marijuana is up nicely. The cash/percentage gains per $100K invested are the white flags on the lower right of the charts below.

In 1999, it was the dot-coms gone crazy with no more than hopes and dreams of massive monies to be made. With, most notably AMZN, the hopes and dreams have come more than true. So it’s likely to be with cannabis too in the fullness of time, but like in 1999 with the dot-comes, it is now no more than party time.

If anyone rolled these up ten days ago, congratulations! If not, they will correct, probably any moment now with the market but, no matter, these stocks will be obvious prospects for the next market upswing.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#Bitcoin – Don’t follow this crypto mania much but…

But I took a look today to see what’s going on lately.

Are you kidding me? There are people out there claiming this will replace the dollar? Replace gold?

Can’t anyone spell T-U-L-I-P-S?

I thought this would end when lap dancers in New Orleans started putting bar-code tattoos on their boobs to collect bitcoin tips.

Now that the drug dealers and money launderers have made a market a few notable institutions (like Microsoft for heavens sake!) had gotten sucked into, and computer nerds in bedrooms with potato chips are “mining” in their spare time, and even more than a few suburban crazies have gone crazy over, what is the real future for this crap? It is in market history (duh, the tulips), and it is not good.

Does anyone actually want to put their savings in this for a buy-and-hold overnight?

That this stuff is priced in U.S. Dollars should tell everyone everything that needs to be told.

(click to enlarge)