If you spend more than 14 minutes a year worrying about the market, you've wasted 12 minutes.
Peter Lynch, former Portfolio Manager of Fidelity Magellan Fund, born 1944.
Thanks to a much more aggressive Fed announcement on September 13th, and the positive anticipation leading up to it, the stock market has had a remarkable run, as a 1-month chart of the S&P 500 shows.
Yet we might want to pause here and remember the old Wall Street bromide, "Buy the rumor and sell the news". The news about the Federal Reserve's plans and the sheer magnitude of what they're doing has been ubiquitous, as well as abundant commentaries.
No doubt what Dr. Bernanke spelled out for us will be good for both the stock market and the commodity markets going forward. Last week, I opined that the Fed may have begun priming the monetary pump before the big announcement. Nevertheless, the markets rallied on both the rumors and the long-awaited, highly anticipated pronouncements.
The concept of ongoing monthly purchases of $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities for the remainder of the year was a big surprise. The additional idea that they will continue until the Fed believes the U.S. economy is where they want it is a huge, unprecedented form of stimulation. In a nutshell, it's extremely bullish! Paying homage to this is appropriate, and the market's reaction has been very positive. We've had a terrific run-up in stock prices as well as the prices of oil, gold, silver and copper.
Now we're heading into a dicey period, historically speaking, for the markets. This begins with the ominous "Triple-Witching Week" (TWW), which is straight ahead of us. The TWW only happens four times a year, and it involves the expiration of September contracts for stock options, index options and index futures. The contracts will expire on Friday, September 21st. The Triple-Witching Weeks that occur in the second and third quarter (keeping in mind that the worst 6 months for the stock market are May through October) are normally much weaker. According to The Stock Traders Almanac, "...the weeks following [the TWW are] horrendous."
Since the beginning of May, the S&P 500 is up nearly 12%. Since August 30th, the price of gold has risen over 8% and silver is up over 15% in the same two-week period.
Looking back to my articles in early August 2012 and the stocks I wrote about gives us an even more dramatic picture. For instance, on August 6th I suggested readers consider Barrick Gold (ABX), BHP Billiton (BHP) and EMC Corp.(EMC). ABX has risen 29% as of Friday's (September 14th) close. BHP in the same period rose only 6.56%, while EMC moved over 10% higher. This happened in less than 6 weeks. Quite the short-term rally.
On August 13th, I recommended Cisco Systems (CSCO), Devon Energy (DVN) and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX). Since that date until the September 14th intra-day highs, CSCO is up 15%, DVN 10.2% and FCX is up an eye-popping 25%. Could these and other stocks move higher in the next week or two? Yes they could, but why not take some profits considering the historical headwinds that the market is facing in the two most difficult months of the stock market's year.
A Friday evening story by Reuters titled "A Comedown May be Waiting After Fed High" included an insightful observation by a market professional. "We are starting to get into that heady territory where you need to be on the defensive," said Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Aubach Grayson in New York.
"Trying to squeak out the last 5% of a move when there is potentially a 15% to 20% downside in my opinion is pretty dangerous stuff." The article went on to explain that "Ross believes that equities, commodities and currencies are now approaching extreme levels of both price and momentum while geopolitical tensions in the Middle East are rising."
So I'm suggesting that we lighten up and build up a cash position along with a wish-list of stocks. Then if there's a 5 to 10% correction to these frothy, Fed-goosed market conditions, we'll be ready to buy again.
There are other technical concerns that are showing up. Marty Chenard's advanced technical analysis at Stocktiming.com pointed out a subtle warning signal that should be noted seriously.
"I hope this doesn't become one of those Deja Vu moments down the road" Chenard commented on Friday."We are referring to the Negative Divergence that is starting to show up on our Accumulation/Distribution chart for Institutional Investors."
"We bring this up because Institutional Accumulation is showing a lesser Accumulation level as the market is moving higher. The last Divergence occurrence took 5 months before the market couldn't hold itself up on its own. Assuming this negative divergence continues, the question now is how long will it take for a similar scenario?"
Mr Chenard then offered this colorful set of charts to illustrate his concerns:
As you can see, over a year ago- after QE2 was launched- the Negative Divergence/Accumulation moved to the 3,000 level. As of Friday it still hadn't reached 2,000. Maybe there's a little time left before the next significant market pullback? How much are you willing to bet on that?
If you're still in a shopping mode for some potentially under-priced "bargains" that are down Year-to-Date, keep an eye on Boeing (BA), Intel (INTC) and McDonald's (MCD). At the closing price of $23.37 on Friday, Intel's dividend yield-to-price was very close to 4%. If you missed the big move in the better industrial companies and precious metals stocks, don't fret. You may have another chance to load up at discounted prices over the next month or two.
There's still plenty of time before we reach the investment markets' best season of the year, which usually doesn't begin until December. In the meantime, start making that wish-list before the next market swoon so you'll be ready to buy at more advantageous levels.
Additional disclosure: I reduced my long positions on Friday, September 14th.