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)

#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)

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

FINRA margin debt is a long-term indicator and always reported a month late.

So now we have the August numbers, down 6% month over month, as reported by Advisor Perspectives Monday (see the chart below). But it’s not the margin number that is concerning, it’s the chart pattern for the long term.

In the 1990s margin debt chugged along in a reasonable bullish fashion before finally going ballistic in 2000 just before the dot-com bubble burst. Then again, coming out of the 2003 bear market, it moved up gradually before going ballistic again in 2007 on a bubble in housing, fueled by excessively low interest rates for too long a time, and we had the financial crisis of 2008/2009. And now in 2018 margin debt has pushed higher than ever before on deregulation and tax breaks to corporations fueling stock buy backs, and some would say on a lot of hot air.

It the fall of last year it topped and has not gone higher this year. That is ominous for long-term investors.

Consider the pattern on the chart below.

Note that in both 2000 and 2007 the market made a new high after margin debt topped and fell. Each time on the chart, the debt numbers formed a plateau lower than the peak as the market made those new highs.

What comes next?

That is always the most important question in the stock market.

In 2000, the S&P plunged 50% (the Nasdaq, 78%), and in 2008 the S&P plunged again down 56%. Note the pattern in place on the chart now. Same old same old.

So is another 50% bear market imminent? It’s likely because although they always say it’s different this time it never is, even though it sometimes takes a long slow time to get it done.

This is a bit tricky at the moment because of the late reporting. One has to guess what is happening with margin debt behind the monthly market moves. Since the August drop in price is reflected in the margin debt drop (big professional players lightening up, maybe desperately lightening up), and since the market has rallied so far this month, one can guess margin debt may move up a bit here in September but not a enough to head off what is to come.

And since the market likes to fool everyone into complacency at the last possible moment, a new high here would probably be just enough to lock long-term investors in when they should be at least shuffling, if not running, to the exit.

If by chance it doesn’t move up, October could become an October of old, which is to say…uh, crash… crash… crash.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY up against a high wall and ready to rise

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 8/22/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (the NYSI): Buy DAY 1
Short-Term Breadth (the NYMO): Buy DAY 1
Price (the Nasdaq COMP): Buy DAY 1
Volatility (the VIX): Buy Day 1
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 38 BUYS, 5 NEW BUYS, 10 OVERBOUGHT; 12 SELLS, 2 NEW SELLS, 3 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 25, rising, EXTREME FEAR LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 12 UP, 3 DOWN.

WHAT?

After slamming up and down in a price consolidation for nine days (some might say twelve) it appears SPY, and the rest of the market is ready to rise.

After a one-day dip, short-term breadth (the NYMO) turned up today putting in a low above a low above the zero line (see the pattern on the chart below).

Just as highs below highs below the zero line are gift or the bears (see the most recent on the chart), today’s pattern should be a gift for the bulls.

In addition, both price action (TQQQ as well as SPY) and volatility (the VIX) gave buy signals on today’s close for tomorrow’s open.

The stocks in my nifty-50 stock list have been gradually making the turn in the midst of this consolidation on the indexes. At the bottom of the sell off in late July and early August there were as few as six on buys (8/5), and even just six trading days ago as few as sixteen, but now there are 38 on buys and only ten overbought.

But maybe the best case for expecting an upswing here and a bull run, is CNN Money’s “Fear and Greed” Index (see the second chart below with TQQQ). It has been at “fear” and “extreme fear” levels during this entire past twelve days and today the index put in a low above low pattern while still deep in the fear zone.

That may be a big clue as to what comes next.

WHAT’S NEXT?

If it can vault above the recent highs of the last few days, the market is going to rally strongly, maybe even explosively – and given how far “Fear and Greed” has to run to the upside, this rally could carry back to the highs and possibly beyond in the next few weeks…

It better.

I say “it better” because if it doesn’t off this setup it’s going to be as Trader Vic Sperandeo always says: “If the market doesn’t do what is expected, it will do the opposite twice as much.”

Overall, I must say I am long-term bearish. I think this became a bear market on the sell down last December when margin debt, which was at that point higher than both 2000 and 2007 started to come apart, and all this jerking around this entire year is so far the death throes (however spectacular) of a long-term bull. President Obama brought this out of the depth of despair and it has managed to keep going on the tax-cut buy backs and the deregulation under Trump, but it is a ten-year bubble now waiting for the prick to bring it down. No wonder Trump, with his trade war and farmers going broke all through the Midwest and layoffs creeping into the headlines, is screaming desperately at the Fed to cut rates.

But none of this is going to matter tomorrow.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – Bulls doing what they needed to do

What they needed to do was to push the market up some more.

In the process, the all important long-term breadth (the NYSI) has turned positive to go along with the short-term breadth (the NYMO) and price indicators with SPY finally edging above its 280/282 resistance (see the charts below).

That would suggest more advance to come. The upturn in the NYSI is buy signal for tomorrow’s open

But maybe not without a dip first, a “turnaround Tuesday”?

There are shaky signs that remain in this tricky time in the market. It’s kind of scary to jump in now with the market already up essentially six days in a row, both the Russell and the Dow at at the moment lagging the Nasdaq and the SPX as if not all the generals are as yet on the battlefield. My nifty-50 stock list has 29 stocks on buys and has been declining since last week, even slipping again today from 31 on buys Friday. CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is at a “greed” level and still working on divergence trailing the market’s up move these last six days.

Still, at this point there is no choice other than to be long until further notice.

Given that the NYMO/NYSI is positive and also has a cycle that usually runs ten to fourteen weeks (the sell down ending six trading days ago was in the 10th week) breadth could launch the market into rally into say…May…and maybe making a new high along the way.

I’ve been asked to explain what’s on the the triptych of stock charts below. They are an illustration of what I talk about over and over again as I try over and over again to simplify, simplify, simplify.

The top part is whatever is being traded on the signals. In this case TQQQ. Could be AAPL, GE, NFLX, options, whatever. The middle part is NYMO and NYSI. The next lower part is obviously SPY. Also use the Nasdaq composite here on other charts. And finally the bottom part is the profit reading, set for $100,000 in order to easily see the percentage move. The white flag on the lower left is the booked profit percentage on the signal year to date. The white flag on the lower right is the current profits if the signal is in play.

The chart on the left is the short-term breadth signal for March, in the middle is a pure price signal for March, and on the right is the long-term breadth chart, YTD (it is set to go long again tomorrow).

Remember this is day trading and swing trading, no long-term buy and hold in my world (far too risky).

(click on the charts for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – “a gift for the bears”…

I expect the market to go down tomorrow.

Really? Why?

Long-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Summation Index (the $NYSI) is declining, and today short-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Oscillator (the $NYMO) turned down after basically a four-day bounce in the market, but more importantly, timing-wise, this NYMO pattern is more than the usual turn down.

In this case it is a “high below a high below the zero line.”

And whenever this happens I believe it is a gift for the bears.

Take a look at the blue vertical lines on the chart below, which mark each time this pattern has repeated in the past six months. Focus on what happens next. It is always what happens next in the market that matters — not many indicators are consistent as this one – a sell off every time and usually hard downs the next day (tomorrow).

In addition, the SPX and Nasdaq Comp both clicked down today (to state the simply obvious, every dip or swing or slide or whatever the market wants to do to the downside has to begin with one down day), and VIX, after four days down, clicked up, giving its own first-day sell signal. Furthermore, my nifty-50 stock list which has 41 stocks on sells a week ago Wednesday rallied to 42 on buys yesterday before clicking down to 39 on buys today. CNN Money’s “Fear and Greed Index” is at a “greed” level trying to diverge with the rally highs. AAPL, by far the most important stock in the market and one capable of triggering a sell off all by itself, gaped up today on top of a five consecutive days up, but then sold off below its open (putting a black candle of indecision at a high on its chart).

But more important than any of that in my expectation is high below the high below the zero line, the gift for the bears, a gift in bull markets let alone in what may now be a bear market.

Okay, what if it doesn’t sell down? Well, that will be particularly bullish and I’ll take that up when and if it goes that way. As Trader Vic Sperandeo would say “if the market doesn’t do what’s expected, it usually does the opposite twice as much.”

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY – the slow roll over?

Given how sprightly the rally since December has been it’s hard to call a top. Actually it’s hard to call a top anytime but bear-market rallies are especially tricky.

Weeks ago it was suggested here this would be the rally to make everyone one believe the bull market has resumed, and it has been that kind of rally.

There is famous, familiar chart of investor emotions in the market (see below) that shows the various stages of market emotions from despair to euphoria and back again (see below). It’s worthwhile review that chart every so often and ask one’s self how am I feeling now. This is especially true for long-term holders and retirees who have their savings tied up in the market.

Looking at the chart below I would suggest we are at the “Return to Normal” stage. For any swing trader who played the upswing this has been a fantastic rally. For investors it’s been a big sigh of relief.

But… There are signs now that sigh may be about to become a gasp.

Long-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Summation Index, the most important indicator of mass market psychology, turned bearish four days ago after several warnings from the declining highs on the McClellan Oscillator itself. My nifty-50 stock list has failed to get overbought since the rally’s kick-off’s first few days. While the indexes have worked higher, the stocks have rotated and paused and in some cases fallen under the surface (take a look at the rollover in the banking sector).

Weed stocks lead again (check out CRON up 87% on the YTD summation index run up or GWPH up 71%). While there’s a growth logic to the marijuana sector, that’s still just as crazy as the dot-com bubble of yesteryear.

Despite all those warnings until prices follow internals and drop with conviction (which could happen any day now, even tomorrow), and the VIX jumps back above 15 (it closed at 14.74 today), the sell off may not happen, and if the SPX, or in this case the SPY run up past the resistance at recent highs, it might go to all time highs before the bear market resumes.

Doubt that but we’ll see.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

$SPY – it doesn’t even rhyme, it repeats?

History…

Back in December there was this post:

$SPY – Simple black candle tops…

In which it was noted:

Again and again, market upswings end in black candles – a hanging man, a shooting star, a dreaded doji, or just a sign after six days up and two blasts of nothing-much news the buyers get tired. Not always it’s a black candle ends the rally, but it happens often enough, me thinks, for swing traders to take notice.

And it was further noted going into that December black candle:

“If I had to guess, I’d pick the 281 neighborhood as a place where the SPY may settle this trip up (see the chart). Maybe even a bit higher. It may not take long or it may chop up until January. After that all indications are we have not seen the eventual lows of this bear.

The December black candle (see the chart below) started the plunge into the December 26th buy signal from which we have rallied again to…you guessed it…280 on the SPY! Lots of traveling around in the market to go almost no where. Swing traders love this — after all what a rally! Long-term holders must sit grateful that it’s not as bad as it was…but is it going to get any better for them?

Well, we’ll see. Like last time we were here, there are again simple black candles everywhere: besides SPY (the chart below), and QQQ they are in a slew of ETFs – TAN, FAS, SOXL, FNGU, TNA, TQQQ, UPRO — as well as DB and C in the banks and no less than eight staring me in the face in my nifty-50 stock list (that a lot for a single pattern all at once).

So what’s it mean? Maybe nothing since all-important long-term breadth continues to rise, but then short-term breadth (measured by the McClellan Oscillator, $NYMO), continues to wind down (see the lower portion of the chart below), giving warning signs of a turn to the downside coming near. To keep it simple, let me say it will not surprise me if a dip starts Tuesday and goes down a while.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – the rally to fool everyone continues

Been on vacation and been lazy so haven’t updated this blog for a month or so.

No matter. Nothing has changed much since first getting the buy signal on this upswing way back on the open of December 24th in this POST BELOW. Along the way I made the quote below in this entry back on January 7th — Santa leaves behind a “fast up” rally. :

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.

This is still my overall opinion. This is a bear-market rally. It has been and continues to be spectacular but it is still likely to be the rally to fool everyone into believing the bull is alive and well. And maybe it will turn out that it is but no matter. The key is be long as long as it lasts but don’t fall in love with it.

Long-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Summation Index, the $NYSI (obviously the most important stock market timing signal there is), has been rising now for 37 trading days and yesterday short-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Oscillator, the $NYMO, turned up from a dip last week giving a renewed general market buy signal for today’s open (see the chart below).

It is a notable uptick since the $NYMO, as it often does ahead of a downturn, was giving warnings that the rally was flagging but the new low above a low in the $NYMO pattern (see green circle on the chart) suggests there is at least a week more of rally to come.

So, as I said above, nothing much has changed this year. The trend is up. Be long and don’t even think short. For now.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

Oops! $SPY rallies again into a black candle top

Okay, another day up as the rally keeps going, but…

But there are now simple black candles everywhere.

Back on December 3rd I started looking at black candles on StockCharts.com just for the fun of it and discovered a simple black candle at that point on the SPY might be the top of that up swing.

I wrote about it and posted the comments and a chart here:

$SPY – Simple Black Candle Tops

As it turned out it was the exact top of the late November market bounce. Given that it is believed that it is impossible to consistently call tops in the market, that might have been pure luck. However, looking back over many charts (see those below for examples) those black candles appear to be telling. Just focus on the black arrows on the day after, and the moves from there in the current environment.

In Japanese candlestick charting there are names for these patterns — dojis, shooting stars, abandoned babies, etc. — but I’m trying to be as simple as simple can be. The black candles I’m talking about here occur when an index/ETF/stock/future closes higher than the close the day before but also closes below its open (again see the charts below), oftentimes on a gap higher than the high the day before.

However, as with all technical and price indicators, nothing matters unless there is follow through the next day or very soon thereafter. December 3rd signaled the drop from the top of a range in the newly-born bear market (see the first chart below).

There was money to be made on that decline just as there was on the subsequent bounce off the bottom. This is swing trading.

The general market has had a nine-day bear-market rally off the low. For many ETFs and stocks there have been spectacular gains which I noted here (the post below, yesterday) but now….

Now we are back to simple back candles at the top of more than one ETF: not only SPY, but also QQQ, and in the sectors, LABU, ERX, FNGU, TAN, FAS. These I’ve charted (see the panel below the SPY chart) but these black candles are all over other ETFs and many stock charts besides.

This may be a turning point. It may not. But like all great things in the stock market we won’t have to wait long to find out.

(Click on the charts for a larger view)