$SPY – six days up into a black candle

Does the market pause here, pull back, or continue to rally?

My bias going into Friday is a pause, possibly going into a pull back.

But, thanks to SPY rising six days in a row, putting a black candle on the price chart and an inside day today (see the chart below), it’s going to be easy to see the next move, either up or down. Every black candle, which I simply define as a day in which the close is higher than the day before and lower than its open, is a clear sign of indecision in the market and an inside day is a further indication of indecision. The indecision obviously is resolved above the high or below the low of the black candle day. It’s that simple.

At the moment, the key numbers on SPY are 287.76 at the high and 285.75 at the low.

Of course it takes a down day to start a decline and SPY, at six days up, has not had one but the Nasdaq Comp, after five days up in a row, was down slightly today and there were eighteen sell signals today on my nifty-50 stock list, CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is overbought in the greed zone… All of which contribute to my bias.

On the other hand, long-term breadth (NYSI) continues to rise, short-term breadth (NYMO) also is positive so it’s likely, when and if it comes, the dip will be more of a pause than a deep pullback.

In the meantime, it might be time for swing traders to tighten stops to lock in profits. It’s been a good upside run this week with TQQQ up 3.8%, TNA, up 3.1% and UPRO up 2.5% at today’s close.

Among the bellwether stocks FB is up 4.9 %, FSLR up 3.9%; AAPL lagging but up 2.1% (watching for a short soon); remarkably WYNN is up 13.1% and AMD up 10.4% and GS up 4.2% and BAC up 4.5% at today’s close. All of these are four day trades from the market-timing buy signal on the open Monday.

(click on the chart for larger view)

#MarketTiming – from bearish to bullish to bearish again…

On Monday, this blog posted that this stock market at this juncture is —

TRICKY, TRICKY, TRICKY.

No kidding.

At that point, for Monday, the market, according to many technical indicators, was poised to sell off, ending the splendid rally from December. But then it didn’t sell off.

Instead, yesterday, it gave a tentative, but likely, indication it was going to continue to go up into a typical bull-market cycle advance, and today on the opening gap and with its pre-lunch follow-through from the open, it appeared the snorting gods were in their heaven and all was right with bull world.

Then, during the day a quick slide took everything negative. Not by much, hardly enough to notice on daily charts at the end of the day, but it was enough to turn long-term breadth negative again (see the dots on the chart below), which makes being long the market dangerous and while short-term breadth did peek above the zero line for a day a look back looks pretty bearish (the yellow line on the chart below) with highs below highs generally all the way back to the beginning of the rally.

Tricky.

I’ve long said this is the rally to make everyone believe a bear market did not begin in September of last year, that the bull market from as far back as Obama’s first term was resuming and continuing and it may still be (it sure looked like it yesterday), but it will not surprise me if a benign dip like today turns into a raging grizzly while the buy-and-holders sitting at The Palm or at Smith & Wollensky are wondering why the steaks are taking so long.

For today I’m posting my “Black Candle” chart. Black candles shows up when an index or ETF or stock or whatever one’s trading closes higher than the day before (usually on a gap) but lower than its open. There are candlestick names for these kind of chart patterns but just plain “black” is fine with me.

Today, notably, we had black candles on SPY (below) and TQQQ, and remarkably on FNGU (the leveraged ETF for the FANG stocks). They don’t always signal tops of swings, although I can’t think of anything else that comes as close (see examples on SPY below), but they are alerts. They do signal sudden indecision. And they are useful markers, pretty much as simple as it gets — go long above the high of the black candle, go short below the low of the black candle as the indecision gives way to a direction either up or down.

(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 – tricky, tricky, tricky…

So the market did not go down Friday as expected here.

And it may have switched gears to rally some more to the upside.

While long-term breadth, as measured by the McClellan Summation Index ($NYSI), continues to decline, short-term breadth ($NYMO) turned up Friday with a low above a low on its chart (see the green circle on the charts below). In bullish times, that is an aggressive traders buy signal. In bearish times, not so much.

Now if the Summation Index turns up, which it needs to do in short order (like Monday…), it could be the start of several weeks of rally. And if it doesn’t, and the low above low on the NYMO is canceled out, which seldom happens in bull markets but is common in bear markets, we will again, immediately be looking at a likely down swing again. One that could be big.

A lot hinged on Friday’s market action and now more may hinge on Monday’s.

The the first chart on the left below is based on the long-term breadth signal year to day. Because of this monster rally that ended at the end of February, TQQQ, the leveraged ETF for the Nasdaq is up 48% for the year. It is flat now but will go long if the NYSI turns up. TQQQ on the center chart is riding the short-term breadth signal and is currently up 14% for the year. It will go long on tomorrow’s open (Monday’s open). The chart on the right is a purely a price-base signal (I say “buy the yellow, sell the blue”). It has booked 3.1% profits and is currently up 5.1% on this latest on-going upswing.

If the market rallies tomorrow again, it is likely all three will be long at the same time. That is truly bullish.

IF not, then it won’t be bullish. As I said, much hinges on Monday for now. Tricky, Tricky, Tricky.

(click on the chart panel 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 – Fast and furious the bear-market rally rises…

It was noted in the post below from the day before yesterday that bear market rallies tend to be fast and furious so we would have to see how this one goes.

And now, so far, it has went exactly as expected. Both short-term and long-term breadth, measured by the McClellan Oscillator and Summation Index, gave buy signals for yesterday’s open.

Despite a somewhat squishy start to yesterday, the rally (or maybe it should be called a “bounce”) clicked in strongly today. The fast move up midday was probably due to a speech by Federal Reserve chairman Powell which turned out to be more dovish than expected on future interest-rate increases. Funny how often news comes along to agree with what market breadth is saying already.

Notable moves in the rally so far include TQQQ up 12.% in two days; UPRO up 9.1%; FNGU, the 3x-leveraged ETF of the “FAANG” stocks, up 9.7%; tech ETF TECL up 13.4%. In two days…

So what now?

Both SPY and TQQQ are up more than two standard deviations of an average advance (“fast and furious”) and SPY is about to smack into an obvious down trend line (see the chart below). This is not sustainable. It is likely too much too soon. In addition my nifty-50 stock list has 45 stocks on buys (this current turn to the upside started with 39 of those 50 stocks on sells). Consequently, it’s likely the general market will either go sideways for a time now or take a quick dip…maybe only one day. Given past history, those who did not jump on the buy signals yesterday are probably itching to buy any dip so the rally should go on. Only 11 of my 50 stocks are overbought. Usually there will be many more of them overbought before this upswing stalls out completely.

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.

(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)

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)

$SPY #Options – Trending Day 31 in the “Fool’s Game”

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

“Usually” IS usually, but so far this year not this time. This day-trading strategy developed last November – dubbed in earlier posts here “The Fool’s Game” – has had 31 days like to day since the start of this year.

A trending day.

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 solely long. Today was up above up 125% despite the 56% loss on the calls at the beginning of the day as puts ran hard into the close (see today’s color-coded charts below).

Think about that for a moment…31 days of 100% or more, a $10,000 or more profit on each $10K traded. As they say, “that’s a lotsa money!”.

Good thing too because on the 178 trading days so far this year that did not trend, the strategy has lost money. The biggest draw down was 640%. That is not a typo, $64,000 trading $10K every day.

Yikes!

Obviously day trading options, any options strategy, has to be with no more than a fraction of anyone’s total capital.

I’ve learned some market rhythm day-trading the closest in-the-money strike on the nearest expiration I never knew before. Friday’s are truly freaky gaining 48% of all the money for the strategy on the year, with Monday Monday being good to me too, racking up 28% of the profits; Wednesday follows with 24%, Thursday with 15%, and Tuesdays absolutely suck, barely in the black at 1%.

And no matter what this takes persistence, discipline and years of experience.

Did I forget to mention the staggering total amount trending days have made so far this year over and above the losses on the non-trending days?

(click on the charts for a larger view)