Stocks Plummet Again On European Fears

The story of the week has been Europe though news was somewhat suppressed in the beginning of the week as the market floated higher on low volume with a tight trading range. I exited TBT on Thursday on the failed bull flag though there may be another bottoming tail in play on the daily chart as it closed higher than Thursday’s low today. TBT was only a small position and the stop out does not hurt much.

Over the last two to three days I have stuck to intraday trades of sector etf’s mainly because of how sloppy this market has been. The volatility is still elevated and equities are much too sensitive to news to be holding significant positions overnight. The switch over to the daytrading techniques has been successful, I pulled profits on ERY and TZA on Wednesday and Thursday The moves have been less profitable but the strategy has certainly been safer. I will resume swing trading if and when the market finally stabilizes. Quite frankly, the volatility has been aggravating and I was close to taking a nice vacation from this week due to the instability. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to not be heavily exposed during this beatdown and there are few interesting developments on the charts that I’d like to share.

The only bullish part about the chart of the SPY is that the bottoming tail is still well intact despite the obvious weakness in the market. The tails on the previous two candles signal that there are a lot of sellers who are still willing to enter short positions even at these levels.

For those of you who might not know, my strategy is to use the chart to understand the mentality behind the moves. So, if I had to explain the reasoning behind the activity over the past week, I would conclude that the low volume in the beginning of the week was the institutions allowing the market to float higher, and that the selling later in the week was them driving it lower before options expiration so that they could pocket the premiums. Otherwise the flush over the last two days is due to thousands of ants that are convinced that this is a good level to short the market at.

Not to downplay the weakness in the market but the SPY has not confirmed or even tagged the 110 low yet which means that we still have a bottom. So the point I am making is that despite the downside hype, we have not made a new low. In other words, the chart leaves out opinions and tells it like it is.

If the market does in fact plunge once more, the downside for the SPY should be in the $107.50 area and after that, the master level is around $101.75. Should $110 be tested again, it would be more vulnerable as the recent bounce would be considered consolidation from the move down. Another thing to remember is that Bernanke speaks at Jackson Hole this week and though no announcement regarding additional easing will be made without the FOMC, the market will still hang on his every word which can cause a reversal in favor of either side.

The most intriguing chart so far is copper. Copper has held up well over the last two days and actually posted a gain today despite the sharp decline in equities. There is a bit of a bull flag there on the daily chart and if copper gets a solid bid, it could signal interim bottom in the market. On the other hand, if it breaks down, it could become a failed bull flag which would indicate that there will be more immediate downside.

I would have liked to have seen this chart last week and picked up JJC for a pierce of that 3 year trendline. If this trendline holds, copper will get another bounce and there is a bottoming tail there on the weekly chart. This week’s candle was negative but the range stayed inside that of the previous week’s which is typical action after a bottoming tail takes place. Again, if copper gets a bid off of this trendline, it will likely breathe some life into the equity markets and could possibly signal a bounce.

The last chart that really catches my attention is silver. Silver has underperformed gold which certainly makes sense because silver is much less of a fear trade than gold since silver has industrial and technological applications. Because of this silver is negatively effected during a period of economic contraction as the demand for those goods falls as the economy shrinks. However, today’s action was a different story as gold did make a new high but looked weak intraday especially compared to silver which had a giant move higher. Again, it is surprising to see silver outperform gold in this environment and it leads me to believe that a big fish may have taken a large amount of shares and/or ounces off of the market.

In any case, today’s action does signal a breakout above $42 assuming it confirms today’s move on Monday, or perhaps sometime late next week after first consolidating. It will be interesting to see if the metals pull back or rally into the Jackson Hole conference. There doesn’t seem to be any way the conference can turn out without the metals surging. On one hand, Bernanke could sound hawkish, and then the risk of default due to not having any life support will scare the market and force everyone into gold. On the other hand, he hints at additional easing and the metals surge anyway. I think the only shot he’s got is to sound complacent, condescending, and indifferent, as if he is slightly confused as he looks down on the market and shakes his hand for reacting the way that it has. In my opinion, this is kind of how the most recent Fed minutes came off and it is part of the reason the market found its footing and moved off of the lows.

In any case, that’s my take on the upcoming Fed conference and my advice to traders is so completely stay out of everything this week unless it is a day trade. Cash is outperforming many asset classes including bonds (which have negative real rates) and equities so it doesn’t make much sense to heavily expose your porfolio until the dust settles. Abide by your stops, and if you enter a winning trade, take the easy money.

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About Aaron Basile
Market Technician, Equity/Commodity Trader, Austrian Economist, Contrarian Investor

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