October 23, 2011 Leave a comment
The 10 year is already 25% off of the August lows as yields closed out the week at 2.23%. The stock market has calmed and has acted relatively complacent since the shortened holiday trading week earlier this month. Stocks have shaken off poor earnings from market leaders such as Alcoa, J.P. Morgan, IBM, and Apple. The market is being lead by energy plays like Chevron, Exxon, and Conoco Phillips, up 18%, 16%, and 20% respectively from the September lows. Energy makes up a large portion of the SPX, and CVX and XOM are also two large components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It appears that many of the underlying issues with global markets are being ignored so long as the indices can post a gain. Volume on the SPY has been almost pathetic since Columbus Day which can be telling us that the market is up on hot air. On an intraday basis, most of the volume of late has come in the 3pm timeframe and it is clear that institutions have been buying the market late in the day in order to force positive closes above key resistance areas. This is not an uncommon occurrence, however the frequency of these actions have increased exponentially over the last three weeks.
Despite this, the uptrend is monumental and must be respected. There were many investors who bet against the market in the middle of 2009 and in fall 2010 for the same reasons I have listed only to have their portfolio evaporate at the hands of low volume bear market rally which was fueled by the Fed’s POMO.
The 10 year is forming a similar pattern as it did last year leading into November. In 2010, the TNX formed an inverse head and shoulders beginning in August, which ultimately played out after the Fed began QE 2. Currently, one could make a case that there is once again an inverse head and shoulders pattern on the TNX (albeit a very sloppy one) leading into November when the Fed makes its next policy decision. At the very least it has made higher lows, and as stated previously, it is already 25% off of the 52 week low.
Ultimately, there are two reasons as to why this may be happening. The market is either expecting more intervention by the Fed, or the market is being led higher which would be a setup for a selloff following any disappointment from the FOMC. The scenarios seem simple, but the market is just floating right now and barring any type of sharp reversal in the next couple of weeks, the market does not seem like it wants to budge from its current course just yet.
There are a few mixed signals regarding market breadth, commodities, and currencies. As far as market breadth goes, the Nasdaq 100 lagged the market this week, closing negatively for a loss of 1.42%. Meanwhile the S&P 500 finished positively gaining 1.12%, and the DJIA also finished positive with a gain of 1.41%. This is an unhealthy signal for the market. In a true bull market, the Nasdaq 100 should be keeping pace (and often should be leading) with the market. The DOW is composed of dividend yielding, safety plays such as WMT, MCD, CVX, and KFT. When the DOW is leading a rally in a bear market, it is a sign that investors are not comfortable putting their money into riskier stocks. Obviously AAPL’s miss had an effect on the Composite, however, GOOG, INTC, YHOO, and MSFT all posted better than expected numbers which gave the NDX an opportunity to drive higher. Small caps are also an important indicator to watch, the Russell 2000 finished flat this week, losing just .04 points, but still well behind the DOW and S&P. Again, if investors do not feel confident enough to take on more risk-heavy plays like small caps, then it tells us that there is still an air of caution in the market, despite the solid gains made in the past 3 weeks.
One thing that is worth mentioning about the chart of the NDX is that there is the potential for a massive W-V reversal should the market pull back – maybe to the 2225-2250 area. This will have to be monitored as it lines up with the idea that the market is leading into Fed intervention for a potential move higher.
On Friday the SPX was pushed higher in the last 10 minutes of trading in order to force a close above 1230.71, which was the previous higher of the recent trading range. However, this is not a breakout. a breakout comes after confirmation, which would be a close tomorrow above Friday’s high of 1239.03. Notice how in the beginning of the month, we closed below the August low of 1101.54, but the next day the pivot low was made and so began the current rally. Confirmation completes a breakout and therefore saves a trader from making a decision that can turn out to be a costly mistake.
In any case, should the SPX confirm above 1230, it has short term resistance at 1249 and then following that it has two master levels. One is 1260, the flatline of the year, which is needless to say, an extremely important level. The final area of short term resistance is the 200 MA. Confirmation above this area could signal a structural change in the market, though I personally do not expect that to play out.
Another slightly conflicting signal is the Euro. It is not conflicting in the sense that it has made a higher low, and looks identical to the yields chart. It also has an inverse head and shoulders pattern on the daily chart that has a target of 147.75. That exchange rate would be close to the YTD high, and though the pattern is somewhat sloppy, it has to be on the table as a possible scenario.
The conflicting signal I’m referring to is that the Euro broke a major trendline over the summer and will have a mountain of a task in getting back above the triple necktie of moving averages on the weekly chart. Also, the longer term view of this chart shows that the Euro may beginning to form a head and shoulders reversal starting in June 2010. If the Euro inches higher, but hypothetically, cannot get through the weekly MA’s, a right shoulder would be in play with a neckline around 132.50.
Oil like stocks, bond yields, and the Euro has recently made a higher low which indicates short term bullish momentum. However, there is a topside trendline that was closed above this week but without confirmation. In fact, the weekly chart of oil shows a doji candle which is more of a neutral signal, and not a candle to base a breakout on. Oil has support between the 50 and 20 MA on the daily chart and a pullback may allow it to build enough momentum to break through this trendline. If oil can get above $90/barrel it should coincide with a breakout above 1230 on the SPX and the next stop will be around $95.
Copper has also made a higher low but the bounce has been only half of what other major asset classes have had. Since the most recent low earlier this month, the SPX is up 14%, oil is up 15%, the 10 year yield is up 25%, and the NDX is up 13%. Meanwhile, copper is only up 8% off of the October lows. Another key difference between now and 1 year ago when the market was leading into QE 2 is that this year copper not only broke through a major 3 year trendline in August, but copper is also near it’s 52 week lows, while this time last year it was in the process of making new 52 week highs.
The weakness in the metal is probably the best indicator that this rally has been full of hot air. Copper leads the market and is still down over 30% from its YTD high, while the SPX is down only a mere 10% from its peak in early May of 1370. The only technical upside that copper has is that after many attempts it has still failed to confirm below the 200 MA on the weekly chart. Should copper stay in this area for the next 2-3 weeks and fail to break through, it will likely catch a bid and back test $3.70-$3.75 which should coincide with a higher equity market. If however, copper confirms below the 200, it will be headed for $2.70 and the equity markets will fall with it for another test of the 52 week lows.
Overall, the next 2-4 weeks should decide where the markets are headed over the next 4-6 months. Any large intervention program would probably make for a similar scenario as the one that we had last year, though I still do not expect the market to make new highs again. Conversely, any disappointment will take the air out of this rally and the October lows will be retested again. Therefore I think that regardless of the FOMC’s policy statement, we will be headed lower over the next 12 months. The market can rally on weak volume so long as Europe stays quiet. However, Greek bond yields reached another high this week of 188% and Merkel and Sarkozy believe that they have come to an agreement to bail out the banks with 100 billion Euros. The plan is pathetic, 100 billion Euros is enough to bail out community banks, not institutions with trillions in CDS exposure like Deutsche Bank, and Credit Suisse and in addition, the longer that they take to complete the EFSF, the more the market will price it’s ratification. Be sure to have a large cash base and keep positions small as news is going to be the driver of the market for the next couple of weeks.