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The focus of the market is back on geopolitics today. Video of Islamic militants apparently beheading American journalist James Foley and threatening to do the same to another journalist has refocused attention on the situation in Iraq. According to the video released, the killing of the American journalist was in retaliation for U.S. air strikes against the Islamic State. The video goes on to threaten another journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff depending on President Obama's "next decision."

Overnight markets appear to be taking a break from the recent rally. And here at home, traders are waiting patiently for the minutes from the latest Fed meeting, which will be released this afternoon, as well as Janet Yellen's speech from Jackson Hole on Friday. Recall that Ben Bernanke had used the podium in Jackson Hole to leak the Fed's plans to launch QE programs as well as "Operation Twist." And while Yellen is not expected to make any announcements, traders will be listening intently to each and every word the Fed Chair utters on Friday. Stock futures are pointing to a pullback when stocks open for trading on Wall Street.

Current Market Outlook

The easy part of the move in the market has likely already occurred as the reasons behind the recent pullback have so far at least, proved to be baseless from a fundamental standpoint. As such, the S& 500 finds itself back near all-time highs. However, going forward, the bulls may find the going a bit tougher. Questions about the outlook for the economy, Fed policy, inflation, earnings and valuation may become the focal point in the not too distant future. So, unless buyers continue to push prices to new highs (as seen on the NASDAQ and NASDAQ 100 indices) the game may become more challenging in the near term. At the very least, a pause in the uptrend would be logical at this stage.

Looking At The Charts

While the current trend of the stock market remains positive across all three major time frames, it is important to recognize that stocks have become overbought from a short-term perspective and there is meaningful resistance overhead. As such, a pullback in the short term would not be surprising. With that said, we should also note that the NASDAQ is displaying some important leadership at this point, which is a positive. For now, the trend is your friend. But a break below 1955-60 would give us pause.

S&P 500 - Daily

Pre-Game Indicators

Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell...

Major Foreign Markets:

- Japan: +0.03%

- Hong Kong: +0.15%

- Shanghai: -0.24%

- London: -0.36%

- Germany: -0.44%

- France: -0.43%

- Italy: -0.07%

- Spain: -0.12%

Crude Oil Futures: +$0.61 to $95.09

Gold: +$0.10 at $1296.20

Dollar: lower against the yen and pound, higher vs. euro.

10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.407%

Stock Indices in U.S. (relative to fair value):

- S&P 500: -3.85

- Dow Jones Industrial Average: -25

- NASDAQ Composite: -6.93 Thought For The Day:

Don't jump to conclusions, there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. -Proverbs 25:8

Current Market Drivers

We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).

1. The State of the Geopolitical "Issues"

2. The State of Fed/ECB Policy

3. The Level of Interest Rates

4. The Outlook for U.S. Economic Growth The State of the Trend

We believe it is important to analyze the market using multiple time-frames. We define short-term as 3 days to 3 weeks, intermediate-term as 3 weeks to 3 months, and long-term as 3 months or more. Below are our current ratings of the three primary trends:

Short-Term Trend: Positive

(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 1 month)

Intermediate-Term Trend: Moderately Positive

(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 6 months)

Long-Term Trend: Positive

(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 12 months)

Key Technical Areas:

Traders as well as computerized algorithms are generally keenly aware of the important technical levels on the charts from a short-term basis. Below are the levels we deem important to watch today:

  • Key Near-Term Support Zone(s) for S&P 500: 1940(ish)
  • Key Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 1985

The State of the Tape

Momentum indicators are designed to tell us about the technical health of a trend - I.E. if there is any "oomph" behind the move. Below are a handful of our favorite indicators relating to the market's "mo"...

Trend and Breadth Confirmation Indicator (Short-Term): Positive

Signal Explained: History shows the most reliable market moves tend to occur when the breadth indices are in gear with the major market averages. When the breadth measures diverge, investors should take note that a trend reversal may be at hand. This indicator incorporates an All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 5-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 25-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +32.5% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost +23.6% per year.

Price Thrust Indicator: Moderately Positive

Indicator Explained: This indicator measures the 3-day rate of change of the Value Line Composite relative to the standard deviation of the 30-day average. When the Value Line's 3-day rate of change have moved above 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day average ROC, a "thrust" occurs and since 2000, the Value Line Composite has gained ground at a rate of +20.6% per year. When the indicator is below 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day, the Value Line has lost ground at a rate of -10.0% per year. And when neutral, the Value Line has gained at a rate of +5.9% per year.

Volume Thrust Indicator: Neutral

Indicator Explained: This indicator uses NASDAQ volume data to indicate bullish and bearish conditions for the NASDAQ Composite Index. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of NASDAQ daily advancing volume (i.e., the total volume traded in stocks which rose in price each day) to the 10-day total of daily declining volume (volume traded in stocks which fell each day). This ratio indicates when advancing stocks are attracting the majority of the volume (readings above 1.0) and when declining stocks are seeing the heaviest trading (readings below 1.0). This indicator thus supports the case that a rising market supported by heavier volume in the advancing issues tends to be the most bullish condition, while a declining market with downside volume dominating confirms bearish conditions. When in a positive mode, the NASDAQ Composite has gained at a rate of +38.3% per year, When neutral, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when negative, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -8.5% per year.

Breadth Thrust Indicator: Positive

Indicator Explained: This indicator uses the number of NASDAQ-listed stocks advancing and declining to indicate bullish or bearish breadth conditions for the NASDAQ Composite. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of the number of stocks rising on the NASDAQ each day to the 10-day total of the number of stocks declining each day. Using 10-day totals smoothes the random daily fluctuations and gives indications on an intermediate-term basis. As expected, the NASDAQ Composite performs much better when the 10-day A/D ratio is high (strong breadth) and worse when the indicator is in its lower mode (weak breadth). The most bullish conditions for the NASDAQ when the 10-day A/D indicator is not only high, but has recently posted an extreme high reading and thus indicated a thrust of upside momentum. Bearish conditions are confirmed when the indicator is low and has recently signaled a downside breadth thrust. In positive mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +22.1% per year since 1981. In a neutral mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +14.5% per year. And when in a negative mode, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -6.4% per year.

Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive

Indicator Explained: This indicator plots both "supply" and "demand" volume lines. When the Demand Volume line is above the Supply Volume line, the indicator is bullish. From 1981, the stock market has gained at an average annual rate of +11.7% per year when in a bullish mode. When the Demand Volume line is below the Supply Volume line, the indicator is bearish. When the indicator has been bearish, the market has lost ground at a rate of -6.1% per year.

Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: Neutral

Model Explained: Designed to provide a reading on the technical health of the overall market, this indicator takes the technical temperature of more than 100 industry sectors each week. Looking back to early 1980, when the model is rated as "positive," the S&P has averaged returns in excess of 23% per year. When the model carries a "neutral" reading, the S&P has returned over 11% per year. But when the model is rated "negative," stocks fall by more than -13% a year on average.

The Early Warning Indicators

Markets travel in cycles. Thus we must constantly be on the lookout for changes in the direction of the trend. Looking at market sentiment and the overbought/sold conditions can provide "early warning signs" that a trend change may be near.

  • S&P 500 Overbought/Oversold Conditions:

    - Short-Term: Overbought

    - Intermediate-Term: Moderately Oversold

  • Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model is Positive .

The State of the Market Environment

One of the keys to long-term success in the stock market is stay in tune with the market's "big picture" environment in terms of risk versus reward.

Weekly State of the Market Model Reading: Positive

Model Explained: Different market environments require different investing strategies. To help us identify the current environment, we look to our longer-term State of the Market Model. This model is designed to tell us when risk factors are high, low, or uncertain. In short, this longer-term oriented, weekly model tells us whether the odds favor the bulls, bears, or neither team.

Source: Daily State Of The Markets: And Now It Gets Interesting...