Today we're happy to announce the launch of our new tutorial video area. You and find it at http://youtube.com/stockchartscom. YouTube members can subscribe to that "channel" and get notified whenever we post a new one. (We'll also announce new ones on the website...) (...and on our Facebook page...) (...and on our Twitter feed...).
The first video we created is an especially important one. It's called "Getting Started with StockCharts.com" and it shows you seven important things that all StockCharts.com members should know about how to use their account effectively.
Logging On and Off
How to Use The SharpCharts Workbench
Customizing Your Chart Settings
Saving Custom Settings
...and much more.
I strongly encourage everyone to review this video. Even experienced StockCharts members may learn a thing or two. Here it is:
In addition to the "Getting Started" video, we've also added a "Behind the Scenes" look at our Computer Datacenter. I'm also putting the finishing touches on a video entitled "Adding Overlays to Volume Bars" which should be available later this weekend. We plan on doing lots of additional video in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned!
Oh, one last thing. We're continuing to crank up our Facebook page and Twitter feed. We've just completed our first free hat giveaway (watch for another one soon!) and we're currently running a fun little "Flash Poll" with the question being "How many people do you think work at StockCharts.com?" If you are a Facebook user, please visit our page and click the "Like" button to get our latest updates.
Today's message is going to represent a shift in emphasis in favor of stocks. As you know, I've been writing since the spring about the huge move into bonds and out of stocks owing to fears of economic slowdown and deflation. I've also written in the past (June 17 to be exact), however, that a four-year cycle bottom is due sometime during the second half of this year. Although that four-year bottom usually kicks in during October, the last one (2006) took place during July and August (so it can happen earlier). It's also well known that September and October can be especially dangerous months. Having said that, one of the main reasons why I'm now leaning toward the view that this year's four-year bottom may occur sooner is the presence of so many potential "head and shoulder" patterns that are visible on stock charts. The S&P 500 is an excellent example of one. First a review of what a "head and shoulders" bottom looks like. It consists of three prominent lows (see circles) with the middle low (the head) slightly lower that the two surrounding lows (shoulders). Another feature of the H&S is that the right shoulder (the August low) often finds support at the same level as the left shoulder (May/June low). Another feature is a "neckline" drawn over the two previous highs (formed during June and August). Chart 1 is almost a textbook example of what that bottoming formation looks like. To actually complete a H&S bottom, however, prices need to close above the neckline. That's along ways off. However, it's not soon to consider the possibility that the market may be heading in that direction. Yesterday's explosive rally has already given a short-term buy signal. That can be seen in the point & figure boxes in Chart 2. By combining that possibility that a H&S shoulder is forming with the likelihood for a four-year cycle bottom during the second half of this year, I don't think it's too soon to start reallocating some funds out of bonds (or cash) and back into stocks.
Stocks have been largely range bound throughout 2010, but the positives still outweigh the negatives overall. Chart 7 shows the **Dow SPDR (DIA)** starting the year just below 105 in January and finishing just below 105 this week. While it appears that DIA has nothing to show for eight months of trading, there are at least five (5) positives on this chart.
Click this image for a live chart
Working from left to right, DIA recorded a new 52-week high with the move above 110 in April (1). Despite a new high, the ETF then declined and broke its February low in late June. This seemed bearish at the time, but the ETF quickly recovered and surged back above 100 to create a bear trap (2). A falling wedge took shape and the ETF broke above wedge resistance in July (3). The uptrend was in good shape until a sharp decline in August knocked the wind out of the bulls. DIA ultimately held above the June low and reversed course around 100 this week (4). In fact, I would now label key support at 99. Also notice that StochRSI bounced off the .50 level (5). Looking back, we can see that pullbacks reversed as StochRSI moved above .50 and held above .50 (green dotted lines). This gives us two levels to watch in the coming days and weeks. The bulls have the edge as long as DIA holds 99 and StochRSI holds .50.
The Investment Company Institute (ici.org) compiles statistics on mutual funds and publishes them monthly. (There is a one month delay between the end of the month being reported and publication.) Decision Point has been collecting these data for almost five years, and we finally have enough to start charting it. Amounts shown on the charts are in billions.
The bottom panel on the first chart shows the percentage of of mutual fund assets held in cash. A low percentage of cash indicates that fund managers are bullish on stocks and do not believe they will need much cash to meet redemptions, as would be the case if stock prices were to fall. The current percentage (3.4%) is lower than what it was near the top of the last bull market. I would consider that to be bearish for stocks.
The next chart shows assets in money market funds. What stands out to me is that, while money market assets have declined since the 2009 market bottom, they have not dropped to the levels seen during the bull market in 2005 and 2006. I interpret this as evidence of investors' reluctance to make a robust commitment to stocks, in spite of a substantial advance from the bear market lows.
Bottom Line: We seem to be getting mixed signals from the mutual fund assets data. The low percentage of cash held by fund managers is bearish for stocks; whereas, the level of money market fund assets shows plenty of cash on the sidelines which could be used to feed a substantial advance in stocks. On the other hand, perhaps the relatively high money market levels indicate that investors have reached their maximum tolerance level for risk in stocks and that they will not be committing any more money to the stock market. I am not sure if this is the correct interpretation, but it would seem to be confirmed by the consistently low volume the market has experienced during the advance from the 2009 lows.
Semiconductors. Financials. Small Caps. 10 Year Treasury Yields.
Take a look at the following chart as the relative performance of each of the above is plotted against the S&P 500:
These are four of the biggest reasons why the market hasn't been able to sustain a move to the upside since April. Until relative leadership returns (and stays for more than just a few days), the market is destined to waffle or head lower.
Semiconductors have been dreadful. Talk about a lagging group since April! The S&P 500 is 3% away from a significant breakout above its June high. Semiconductors, on the other hand, are currently situated 15% below their June high! That is NOT what uptrends are made of. Semiconductors rallied this past week, outperforming the S&P 500 in the process. That's a great start. But before you get too excited, please realize that significant price resistance is dead ahead. In fact, we've included the SOX as our Chart of the Day for Tuesday, September 7th. CLICK HERE to view the critical resistance levels the bulls must negotiate as we enter another trading week.
Financials are key to nearly every uptrend in the overall market. In April, I discussed the lack of follow through within the financial space and that turned out to be a significant red flag as the market topped. In early August, as the S&P 500 continued testing its 1131 price resistance, the Dow Jones US Financial Index failed to clear 271 resistance. Once again, it proved to be a warning sign as the S&P 500 dropped nearly 10% over two weeks. 240-271 is a very significant trading range on financials. Whichever way we break in financials is likely to have a major impact on overall market direction.
The Russell 2000 may hold the very first test for the bulls on Tuesday. Check out this chart:
The downtrend line off the April highs and the short-term price resistance both intersect almost exactly on Friday's close. Early bullishness next week in small caps could bode well for the overall market. Those who are in the intermediate-term bearish camp (including Invested Central) could consider trading the juiced ultrashort ETF (TWM), considering the strong reward to risk. If the Russell 2000 moves much higher, you could exit with minimal loss. However, if the Russell 2000 has found another intermediate-term high, a juiced short at this level would perform extremely well.
The selloff in bonds, and the resulting spike in bond yields, surely played a big part in equities rising last week. In fact, the yield on the 10 year treasury hit MAJOR support in the prior week and was one of the reasons I felt we'd see a rally last week. It didn't change the bigger picture, but definitely suggested the bulls had wrestled short-term control and could advance further in the near-term. I alluded to that in my comments last Sunday evening. CLICK HERE for more details.
Below is the chart on the 10 year treasury yield and the key support level just tested:
It appears as though the yield could rise to the 2.88% area to test broken support. So long as the yield rises, equity prices should remain stable to higher. If the yield begins falling again, all bets are off.
The summer is coming to an end for all practical purposes, with many traders returning from their vacations to a budding sharp rally. This presents an interesting situation for traders, for the historically weakest period lies directly ahead - the September/October time frame. Hence, the question is whether last week's rally was counter-trend in nature, or whether it represents a "thrust higher" of another sustained rally towards higher highs. In our opinion, it is too early to determine - but there several critical levels that will provide additional confidence in one viewpoint or the other.
Last week's S&P 500 rally was strong in terms of price and breadth, but not volume. This remains the hallmark of all rallies off the Mach-09 lows. But our main focus is upon the developing bearish consolidation after the sharp April-to-July decline. This ongoing consolidation is now approaching major overhead resistance at the 140-day moving average, which has proven its merit as resistance to the previous two rallies. In each case, this has led to a decline into major support at 1000-to-1038 zone.
Hence, if one is bearish such as we are at this point - the risk-reward dynamic is favorable for selling short the market upon a move upwards of 1116. One's stop loss point would be a breakout above the previous recent high at 1132, at which point it would be rather clear a larger and more powerful will have begun.
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