Since this will be our last article for 2009, I thought it would be appropriate to do an analysis of the short-, medium-, and long-term charts and synthesize a broad outlook for the market.
In my December 4 article I said we should expect an upside breakout, but the market has continued to consolidate in a very narrow range, still testing the long-term overhead resistance which is drawn across the declining tops beginning with the 2007 top. In the short term, we are looking at several weeks of consolidation, which is also known as a continuation pattern. This means that the most likely resolution will be an upside breakout that will continue the rally that began from the November lows.
There is also the issue of the ascending wedge pattern, which normally breaks to the downside. Should that happen, there is support at about 1050, on the botom of the slightly rising trend channel. Because the two prominent short-term set ups are in opposition, I would have to say that the short-term (days to weeks) picture is neutral.
With two opposing possible short-term outcomes, let's look at the weekly chart, which gives us a medium-term (weeks to months) view of the market. This chart looks bearish. We can see price stalling at resistance, and the PMO is overbought and trying to roll over. The strongest message from this chart is that a medium-term correction is about to begin.
Finally, the monthly chart looks very bullish for the long term (months to years). I say that primarily because the PMO has turned up from a deeply oversold reading and has passed up through its 10-EMA. This is about as bullish a picture as you are likely to see on a monthly chart. Keep in mind that this doesn't override the medium-term or short-term picture. If you study the chart carefully, you will see that quite violent price swings can occur without causing the monthly PMO to change direction. Nevertheless, the overriding message is that the long-term direction of the market is most likely to be up.
Bottom Line: The short-term chart presents two opposite possible outcomes, but the medium-term (stronger) time frame points toward a correction of modest duration; therefore, an upside breakout is unlikely to be sustained. The long-term (strongest) chart tells us that, regardless of how severe a correction we experience, the bull market will ultimately prevail.