When Bullish Retracement Zones and Support become Questionable


Support levels and bullish retracement zones are questionable, at best, in bear market environments. Why? Because the path of least resistance is down in a bear market. As such, the odds that a support level holds or a bullish retracement zone leads to a reversal are greatly reduced. The odds favor bearish outcomes and bearish resolutions during bear markets.

Even though the S&P 500 is battling its 200-day SMA this week, I am in bear market mode because the breadth models at turned bearish for the first time since early September. This means support levels and bullish retracement zones are much less realiable.

As the chart below shows, I could mark support based on the August-October lows or even the March-June lows. In addition, I could draw Fibonacci retracements from the December 2018 low to the February high or from the May low. I could, but these levels simply offer false hope and ignore the shift from bull market to bear market. Instead, I will simply ignore support and bullish retracement zones for now.

Resistance levels and bearish retracement zones, on the other hand, are more important in a bear market environment. With a pop and drop this week, SPY reversed in its first bearish retracement zone and established its first resistance zone.

The chart above shows SPY closing just above the 50% retracement on Wednesday and then falling back towards the prior lows. A 50-61.8% retracement is normal for a counter-trend bounce. Think of it as two steps backward (down) and one step forward (rebound). The decline also establishes a reaction high near 315 and this becomes the first resistance to watch going forward.  

Click here for the companion video on the TrendInvestorPro Youtube Channel

Each week at we assess the state of the stock market with our index and sector breadth models. With clear signals and levels, these offer an objective weight-of-the-evidence approach to broad market timing. This week's analysis of the core ETF chart-list shows many more downtrends than uptrends and a correlation matrix gives us an idea of what to expect from defensive sectors.

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Arthur Hill, CMT

Chief Technical Strategist,

Author, Define the Trend and Trade the Trend

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Arthur Hill
About the author: , CMT, is the Chief Technical Strategist at Focusing predominantly on US equities and ETFs, his systematic approach of identifying trend, finding signals within the trend, and setting key price levels has made him an esteemed market technician. Arthur has written articles for numerous financial publications including Barrons and Stocks & Commodities Magazine. In addition to his Chartered Market Technician (CMT) designation, he holds an MBA from the Cass Business School at City University in London. Learn More
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