The financial sector, as measured by its proxy, the Philadelphia Banking Index [BKX], has definitely broken down. I said as much before the end of last month. While it seemed that the line everyone was watching (level 75 on the chart) might act as support, it didn’t convince me.
While it put up a bit of a struggle dancing around the line for 3 more trading days, it has now decidedly broken down:
The red line marks when I suggested that the sector would break down. The next support, as you can see, is still some way down. So I would stay away from the long side until it reaches that level.
But the good news is that if or when it does plumb those depths, there is a good chance that it will find significant support. It will be fourth time, after the 1998 LTCM bottom, early 2000 and the late 2002 bear market floor.
There is some technical support level at 70, but before a definitive bottom can be in place, this sector may need to get to real support and wash out all the weak hands.
And I suspect that by the time the Bank Index finds its way down to 65 or thereabouts, the bullish percent index will have commensurately fallen to significant buy areas:
That would be, at least, a 20% points drop. Until then, while rumors like those swirling around Lehman Bros. (LEH) may fly and the negative sentiment may get even thicker than it is right now, I doubt that this sector will find its footing.
But while this may be bad news to those long banks, or other financial stocks, I don’t think that it necessarily means the market itself is somehow doomed. A bull market doesn’t need financial stocks.