#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)

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)

$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)





#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 – Simple black candle tops…

Let’s call this a KISS moment as in “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

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.

On November 26th, it was suggested this market would rally in this post: If Santas’s rally is coming to town… and on the follow up in this post: Fast and furious the bear-market rally rises… it was suggested this swing has the speed of a bear-market rally and it was noted:

“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.

Well, it didn’t take long. SPY came within 60 cents of that 281 number today and sold off. Hence the black candle.

So is this swing done?

Could be but maybe not… If not the simplicity of this looks truly stupid, if so I suppose it looks…smart? The key to these singular candle moments is what always comes next. Looking back over the chart below, it appears, what comes next is the smart part but if it breaks that red line at 281 it will likely go considerably higher (more Santa gifts for bulls and those who want to jump out of the house from an upper-story window).

Must note that all of my bellwether stocks – NFLX, AMZN, NVDA MSFT, GS, BIDU, BABA, FB, TSLA, AAPL — were up today from yesterday’s close, and ALL OF THEM were down from today’s open. In other words, in one of the posts linked above it was suggested in a bear market there would be selling pressure nearly every day – today during the day it was obvious this was one of those days.

Tomorrow could another and it could bring more serious selling if the simple black candles have their way.

(click on the chart for 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 – 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)

$COMPQ – a bounce for the rest of the week…

Once again, the market, particularly the Nasdaq, is oversold in these last rapid-fire down days off the top six days ago.

It is as if it has gone down too far too fast.

So…a bounce.

When the Nasdaq Composite, as measured by the blue histogram on the chart below, plunges to the lower green line, it is almost always, first, the prelude to a bounce, and then oftentimes the next up swing (see previous instances on the chart).

In addition, the Nasdaq is setup again for a “Turnaround Tuesday.” I last wrote about this Tuesday phenomenon Sept. 10th (see the link below), and Tuesday, the 11th, was a huge upsurge across the general market.

“TURNAROUND TUESDAY”

It is possible the market could go lower before the projected reversal into the end of the week but don’t count on it. This is still a bull market and right now the bulls need to prove they can stop this drop and run it up again as they have so many times before.

If the bulls can not rule the rest of this week…well, we’ll get to what that could mean in due time.

I’m expecting a bounce right now. Tomorrow is a day to focus on the open for longs in stocks, options and futures on the major indexes, but I always keep in mind what Trader Vic Sperandeo once said: “If the market doesn’t do what one expects, it is likely to do the opposite twice as much.”

(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)