Have We Seen This Movie Before?

My friends at Schaeffer Research always do a good job explaining the technical aspect of stock market performance and this week’s Monday Morning Outlook does an exceptional job, so I decided to use excerpts for this week’s blog. Please enjoy!

“The S&P 500 Index (SPX) closed at 1,072 last Thursday, translating to a drop of 12% from its closing high on April 23. Many commentators are making a big deal of this, because this is the market’s first 10% correction since the March 2009 bottom.”

“Last week brought about further deterioration in the technical backdrop of the market. The knee-jerk reaction might be, “Since the 1,100 level has been breached, should I sell everything?” Before doing so, it might be helpful to consider what may have inspired Thursday’s disastrous price action, which violently pushed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) below its 200-day moving average. Was it really worries about Europe that generated this selling activity? Perhaps, but one might cry “nonsense!” since the decline occurred within the context of a euro rally.”

“Another explanation could be directed toward options expiration. After the broad indexes fell below strikes with heavy put open interest, put sellers at these strikes may have been actively shorting futures to hedge their positions, a concept known as delta hedging. Without getting into the complex details of delta hedging, be assured that this activity can create a snowball effect, much like we saw in Thursday’s trading. In fact, it might be more than just coincidence that the intraday lows on Friday were similar to the “flash crash” lows of May 6. As long-time readers of Monday Morning Outlook know, while expiration week tends to be bullish, when we do have a decline, it is typically quite painful.”

“In another interesting development in Friday’s trading, the VIX finally hit a level that matched its highs during the 1997 “Asian Contagion” and the 1998 “Russian Ruble Crisis.” In addition, Friday’s peak matched the two VIX crests during the first bear market of the new millennium. If the “European Contagion” does not have the negative systemic risk brought on by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and our own credit crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, the bulls may find the VIX high on Friday as an extremely encouraging development.”

“Moreover, on Friday, the VIX’s peak was above the high of the previous day, and both its intraday low and weekly close were below Thursday’s low. To market technicians, this chart formation is known as a bearish “outside” day, which usually signals lower prices ahead. Or, in this instance, it could signal lower volatility in the days ahead, which would likely coincide with a rally in stocks.”

“Above being said, proceed with some caution, as the SPX did close below the key 1,100 level. Another concern is that the most recent American Association of Individual Investors’ survey, released on Thursday, showed increasing optimism among those surveyed. This is somewhat disturbing, since those polled have proven to be an outstanding contrarian indicator during the past several months. Throw in the fact that this increasing optimism is within the context of a pullback and it becomes even more disturbing.”

“Potential support for the SPX is Friday’s low around 1,055. If this level breaks, another important level would be 1,045, site of the lows in February. Resistance is in the 1,100-1,120 area. You already know the importance of 1,100, as described above. The 1,115 level, which marked the SPX’s level at the end of 2009, could also be significant. Finally, 1,120 is yet another potential resistance area, as it’s the site of the 160-day moving average and chart resistance in November and December 2009.”

I always find Schaeffer’s report enlightening and I hope this week’s analysis helped you. I’ll see you again next week.

Michael

 

 

 

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