Markets Marking Time

by: Faisal Laljee

According to Standard and Poors, The Stock Trader's Almanac first observed that since 1945, whenever the S&P 500 advanced in January, it continued to rise during the remaining 11 months of the year 85% of the time, posting an average price advance of 11.8%. That is substantially more than the 9% average annual return recorded by the S&P 500 for all years.

I wonder how many of these Januarys were on the heels of double digit gains the previous year. Since August/Sept of last year, I have been cautious in terms of my bullishness, and while the stocks I picked have been doing well, I have often recommended getting out prematurely or waiting for dips before adding to positions - a sign of skeptic bullishness.

Every month that the market moves forward gives me more reason to be less bullish. I am still cautious going into Feb and March and I recommend investors lock their gains before the selling hits - the market has to correct 5% or more before I can get all-hands-on-deck bullish.

Meanwhile the recent market action where some indices go up a little and some down a little, maintaining a mostly unchanged status, is encouraging. The markets are marking time here before they move. My guess is the move will be down, but then again, I have been wrong about this the last couple of times.