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David Moenning is a the Chief Investment Officer at Heritage Capital Management. Dave is also the proprietor of StateoftheMarkets.com, which provides free and subscription-based portfolio services. Dave began his investment career in 1980 and has been an independent money manager since 1987.... More
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  • Free Money Trumps Valuations Issues

    Daily State of the Markets
    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    The stock market in 2014 has been challenging (for both sides) to say the least. However, the action of the last two days has been especially crazy. And while this market can and often does turn on a dime, we believe the message that seems to be emanating from all the volatility seen this week may be worth listening to.

    Let's start with Tuesday's roller coaster ride. If one only looked at the closing numbers, they would have assumed that stocks had continued to bounce up from Friday's low. However, living through the day on a minute by minute basis was definitely a trip. Take a look at the chart below.

    S&P 500 1-Minute Chart - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    If you will recall, stocks opened up strong on Tax-Day 2014 on the back of strong earnings from the likes of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). These two bellwethers helped push the Dow higher by about 100 points in just a few minutes.

    Then the headlines out of Ukraine started to come in. Eleven dead in skirmish. Jet fighters engaging. Helicopters firing. And then there was the video. In short, it looked like the Russia/Ukraine crisis was back.

    The Rout Was On

    As the trend-following algos fell all over each other trying to short, cover, and then get short again every half-hour or so, it began to feel like Monday's rebound was failing - miserably. And before you could figure out the spelling of the airport in Ukraine under siege, the S&P was testing Friday's low while the NASDAQ, Smallcaps and Midcaps were collapsing under the weight of renewed selling in the bears' new best friends: Biotech, Internet, and Social Media.

    Just before lunch, the Dow had fallen 200 points from the high and was sporting a triple-digit loss. To be sure, things were looking u-g-l-y.

    But... just about the time CNBC had created a new flashing ticker informing us that the NASDAQ had just entered a "correction" (to which I responded loudly with something akin to "Duh!") there was news out of Japan.

    Weak Data From Japan

    I'm not exactly sure whether the news was an official release or just "trader talk," but the word was that weak economic data from the land of the rising sun was leading to talk of more "Abenomic" stimulus.

    And what does the word "stimulus" mean to big banks and hedge funds? That's right; QE. Free money. And the mother of all carry-trades!

    Boom. The reversal was on. The yen fell. Shorts covered. The algos went the other way. And within a couple hours the Dow had moved up 200 points from the bottom. Why was this happening, you ask? Oh, that's right, because everybody who can borrow money in Japan at 0 percent loves any and all talk of additional stimulus. So, stocks were bought and everyone who owned equities went home happy.

    Wednesday's Edition

    Wednesday started out with a continued pop to the upside (leaving a gap on the chart of the S&P 500). This time it was China's turn to talk about stimulating their economy. China's GDP came in at just 7.4 percent, which represented a pretty significant dip from the 7.7 percent rate seen in the fourth quarter of 2013.

    In response to the weak GDP numbers, Premier Li Keqiang was quoted by state media as saying that China would reduce bank reserve requirement (yep, that's a form of stimulus) for the second time in as many weeks.

    As you might suspect, this gave the bulls something to cheer about and stocks opened higher on Wednesday. However, almost like clockwork, the sell algos kicked in after 3 minutes and once again, it looked like the bears meant business.

    Then Came Yellen

    Then Janet Yellen started talking. First she said that inflation isn't going to be a problem for a while. Then she said that it would take another two years for employment levels to recover. Next, she said that the economy would continue to need some help for a considerable length of time. And finally, she blamed the recent economic weakness on the weather.

    The key here was the Fed Chairwoman did not produce any surprises. Nope, she reaffirmed the idea that ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) was going to stick around for some time yet. Which, of course, means more free money for the big banks and hedge funds to play their carry trade games. Party on Wayne!

    What It Means

    Again, we need to understand that the algos are in control of the game these days - especially these days. However, let's review what we've heard over the past two days.

    But over the last two days, we heard that Japan may be talking about more QE. We heard that China is starting to lean toward stimulative measures. And we heard that the U.S. Fed is staying dovish.

    What does it all mean? It's simple, really. Unless some new issue crops up like a shiny object to distract the A.D.D.-afflicted algos (and to be fair, earnings from Google and IBM may do just that), ZIRP and QE trump concerns about overvaluation in the mo-mo names - especially after the internet, biotech, and social media stocks have already taken it on the chin.

    In closing, let me reiterate that this market is more than a little nutty right now. There is little memory from one day to the next. There is a ton of volatility. And as such, trying to maneuver is difficult to say the least.

    But for quite some time, the stock market game has been all about the free money provided by the central banks of the world. So, the message to take away from the hysterical moves of the last 48 hours is that until the bears can come up with a really meaningful move to the downside on the Dow and S&P 500, buying the dips may be the way to go. Or not. Which, of course means that you'd best pay close attention to the price action in the coming week or so. Remember, the damage done to the former leaders is significant and may not be over. So let's be careful out there.

    Publishing Note: I am traveling on Monday and will not publish a morning report. Here's wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

    Looking for a disciplined approach to managing stock market risk on a daily basis? Check Out My "Daily Decision" System. Forget the fast money and the latest, greatest option trade. What investors need is a strategy to keep them "in" the stock market during bull markets and on the sidelines (or short) during bear markets.

    Turning to This Morning...

    Once again, tensions in Ukraine, which appear to be escalating, dominated the overnight news flow. However, traders appear to be more focused on earnings from the likes of IBM and Google (which weren't great after the close) as well as the results from GE, DuPont, and Goldman Sachs (which were largely better than expected) this morning. Overseas markets were fractionally mixed and U.S. futures are pointing to a modest decline at the open on Wall Street.

    Pre-Game Indicators

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

    Major Foreign Markets:
    - Japan: +0.00%
    - Hong Kong: +0.28%
    - Shanghai: -0.29%
    - London: +0.06%
    - Germany: -0.06%
    - France: +0.08%
    - Italy: -0.42%
    - Spain: -0.17%

    Crude Oil Futures: -$0.02 to $103.74

    Gold: +$0.50 at $1304.00

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

    10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading lower at 2.645%

    Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    - S&P 500: -3.56
    - Dow Jones Industrial Average: -36
    - NASDAQ Composite: -17.75

    Thought For The Day...

    Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. -Chinese Proverb

    Positions in stocks mentioned: none

    Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave


    The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning's opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of StateoftheMarkets.com and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. One should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

    Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

    The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

    The information contained in this report is provided by Ridge Publishing Co. Inc. (Ridge). One of the principals of Ridge, Mr. David Moenning, is also President and majority shareholder of Heritage Capital Management, Inc. (HCM) a Chicago-based money management firm. HCM is registered as an investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Ridge is a publisher and has not registered as an investment adviser. Neither HCM nor Ridge is registered as a broker-dealer.

    Employees and affiliates of HCM and Ridge may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

    Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

    Apr 17 8:08 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Is It 'Time' For A Major Correction?

    Daily State of the Markets
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    This report is being written on Sunday, April 13 and is slated to be published on Tuesday, April 15. As such, there will be ample time for the algos to "go the other way" and make the subject matter about to be discussed seem untimely and/or not necessary. However, since the research being presented is big-picture oriented with long-term implications, it could prove valuable to investors - even if stocks have rebounded strongly early in the week.

    As I have stated a time or two hundred, the real key to long-term success in the stock market is finding a way to ride the bull market waves and then trying your darndest to avoid being brutalized by the bears.

    One of the best ways to accomplish this seemingly difficult task is to understand that the market moves in cycles. No, this will not be a discussion of the Elliott Wave or even the cycle composite we review on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. In this instance, we will be looking at bull and bear cycles and some signals that can help put investors on alert for when a bull is about to end.

    But first, there is one additional caveat that needs to be addressed. Remember, no one rings a bell when bull markets ultimately top out. And trying to top-tick a move that generally lasts years is a fool's errand. This is why so many investors are ill prepared when a bear begins. The key is to understand that the research presented is designed to be a warning sign and NOT a signal to sell everything and hide under your desk.

    Warning Sign #1: 52-Week Highs

    In case you are not aware, new 52-high and low totals are considered some of the best leading indicators of major trend changes. Yes, this is old-school stuff. No, it isn't fancy. But it does work!

    The bottom line here is simple. The number of new 52-week highs tends to peak LONG before the market does. Therefore, if one understands this, they shouldn't be terribly surprised when the bears return to the game in earnest.

    Take a peek at the chart below. This is a daily chart of the new 52-week highs on the S&P 500 from September 2006 through early April.

    S&P 500 New Highs and Lows

    Please accept my apologies for the quality of the chart, as it is admittedly quite poor. But the message should be clear. The number of new highs tends to peak well before price does. And the main point is that new highs peaked last spring.

    The situation is the same when looking at the NYSE data. Although the NYSE is full of non-operating companies (i.e. not common stocks) new 52-week highs peaked back on May 10, 2013.

    Why You Should Care

    The reason you may want to check in on this data on a regular basis is that since 1962, new 52-week highs on the NYSE peak, on average, 224 trading days before the market does. And if we look at the median, new highs have peaked 184 days before the market has.

    So, it's time to get out your calendar. Since there are 252 trading days in a year, this means that on average, since 1962, the stock market has peaked between 9 and 11 months after the peak in new highs. So... given that the peak was 5/10/2013, it would appear that the timing might be right for a major peak in the overall stock market.

    Warning Sign #2: Demand Volume

    A similar message can be derived from the study of demand volume (think up volume). Since 1982, Ned Davis Research tells us that demand volume has peaked, on average, 353 trading days before the ultimate peak the S&P 500. And for those keeping score at home, the median peak lead time is 241 trading days.

    When did this indicator peak, you ask? Not surprisingly, the peak in volume demand occurred around the time that new 52-week highs peaked: 5/21/2013.

    So... if we add a year (or so) to 5/21/2013, it is pretty easy to see that the the average lead time between peaks in demand volume and the S&P is very close at hand. Therefore, after taking a year off in 2013, the "sell in May and go away" rule may very well apply again this year.

    The Key Point Is...

    The key takeaway here is that we are NOT trying to predict a market top. No, the idea is that if one knows what has happened in the past, they may be able to be better prepared when the bears return to the game.

    And based on these two indicators, it looks like the bears' time to shine may be upon us again soon.

    Publishing Note: I have an early meeting on Wednesday and will not publish a morning missive.

    Looking for a disciplined approach to managing stock market risk on a daily basis? Check Out My "Daily Decision" System. Forget the fast money and the latest, greatest option trade. What investors need is a strategy to keep them "in" the stock market during bull markets and on the sidelines (or short) during bear markets.

    Turning to This Morning...

    Tensions in Ukraine continue to mount. However, traders have plenty else to occupy themselves with this morning including new concerns about China's credit and economic growth, improved economic sentiment out of Europe, and a big slug of earnings and economic data data here in the U.S. In addition, Fed Chairwoman Yellen will deliver opening remarks at a conference starting at 8:45 am. In early trade, bond yields are rising, and both oil and gold are falling. U.S. futures are pointing to a slightly higher open after KO's earnings report.

    Pre-Game Indicators

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

    Major Foreign Markets:
    - Japan: -0.36%
    - Hong Kong: +0.15%
    - Shanghai: +0.07%
    - London: -0.38%
    - Germany: -0.56%
    - France: -0.43%
    - Italy: -0.90%
    - Spain: -1.25%

    Crude Oil Futures: -$0.09 to $103.65

    Gold: +$3.20 at $1332.20

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

    10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading lower at 2.635%

    Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    - S&P 500: +4.96
    - Dow Jones Industrial Average: +44
    - NASDAQ Composite: +11.15

    Thought For The Day...

    Beware the barrenness of a busy life. -Socrates

    Positions in stocks mentioned: none

    Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave


    The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning's opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of StateoftheMarkets.com and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. One should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

    Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

    The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

    The information contained in this report is provided by Ridge Publishing Co. Inc. (Ridge). One of the principals of Ridge, Mr. David Moenning, is also President and majority shareholder of Heritage Capital Management, Inc. (HCM) a Chicago-based money management firm. HCM is registered as an investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Ridge is a publisher and has not registered as an investment adviser. Neither HCM nor Ridge is registered as a broker-dealer.

    Employees and affiliates of HCM and Ridge may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

    Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

    Apr 15 8:03 AM | Link | Comment!
  • No Crisis, No News And No Rumors

    Daily State of the Markets
    Monday, April 14, 2014

    For the past 7-8 years, every meaningful decline in the stock market has been accompanied by a crisis, a headline, a rumor, etc. However, this time around, there is no crisis. There is no war, no news, no geopolitical tensions, no earthquake, no tsunami, no debacle in Washington, no political deadline, nor even a single rumor of a sovereign debt default. No, unless the past week was simply computers doing what the computers tend to do to the market sometimes, we're looking at a decline that appears to be driven by something we haven't seen for a very long time: traders/investors heading to the exits.

    To be sure, the current market action represents a clear departure from the crisis/Fed-driven environments that have dominated for years. Suddenly, stocks are not going down because of something that happened or what somebody in a country you've never heard of said. No, stocks appear to actually be "correcting" some of the excesses that built up in the mo-mo space over the past year or so.

    But Before You Crawl Underneath the Desk...

    However, before you run to the computer to sell everything you've got, we need to recognize that there could (key word) be another reason for the current dance to the downside. In short, there is a chance that the trend-following algos are simply locked onto a "trade" at the present time. IF (note the use of capital letters) this is the case, then we shouldn't be surprised to see the market turn on a dime and move higher in a straight line - ala the move seen from February 4 through March 6.

    Remember, stocks remain in a bull market until proven otherwise. And, if investors have learned anything over the past 10 years, it is to BTFD. Thus, unless/until things turn truly ugly for a protracted period of time, one may want to take a breath here and give the bulls a chance over the next week or two.

    The chart below (S&P weekly) should illustrate my point. And for the record, at -19 percent, the decline in mid-2011 was the last really meaningful correction we've seen.

    S&P 500 Weekly

    However, the current decline really isn't a blue-chip affair. So, to be fair, we should probably take a peek at the NASDAQ and some of the areas that are in trouble before we decide to just ignore the bearish action taking place right now.

    Below is a weekly chart of the NASDAQ Composite since mid-2009.

    NASDAQ Weekly

    As can be seen on the chart, the upside move in the NASDAQ had become eye-popping since the November low in 2012. As such, a pullback was certainly to be expected. And so far at least, the move appears to be of similar magnitude as the declines seen in 2012. Therefore, there may not be reason to panic just yet.

    Speaking of panic, there does appear to be a fair amount emotional selling in some areas such as Biotech, Internet, and Social Media. Take a look...

    SPDR Biotech ETF Weekly

    There is little argument that Biotech had "gone parabolic" from the end of 2012 into the February high. In short, this is the very definition of a mo-mo move. And as is oftentimes the case, the move culminated with a "blow-off" to the upside, which is traditionally followed by a severe correction. Check.

    The question of the day is if a decline of -27 percent is enough to work off the excess that had been built into prices. The good news is the decline that began at the end of February has since corrected the blow-off phase and has also violated the uptrend line that had been in place for more than a year. From a technical standpoint, we would look to the uptrend line from late 2011 as a logical area of support should the selling continue.

    A similar situation can be seen in both the Internet and Social Media sectors. Let's take a look.

    First Trust Dow Jones Internet Weekly

    There has been lots of talk lately about internet stocks getting bubbly. While it is ludicrous to compare today's situation to what was occurring in 1999-2000, the move up in the internet and social media stocks had clearly gotten out of hand.

    As to the question of how low can internet stocks go, the Fibonacci retracement levels for the move that began in summer 2011 on the First Trust DJ Internet ETF (NYSE: FDN) may be helpful. The first retracement level (0.25 percent) at $57.78 was violated this week. So, we must then look to the 0.382 level, which currently resides at just below $51. And if the selling gets really intense, the 50 percent retracement level is at 46.68.

    And then there is social media. This is where things may have gotten a little "stupid."

    Global X Social Media Index ETF Weekly

    Although the weekly chart of the social media ETF (NASDAQ: SOCL) isn't horrific, the moves in some of the names such as Twitter (NASDAQ: TWTR) and Yelp (NASDAQ: YELP) certainly have. Remember, when you play with fire, sometimes you get burned!

    Garden Variety or Something Worse?

    The question of the day is if the current dance to the downside in the S&P 500 is going to remain a garden variety pullback - meaning a decline of -2.5 to -5.0 percent - or become something more menacing.

    Currently, the S&P 500 is down -3.98 percent from the all-time closing high seen on April 2. So, as it stands now, the decline isn't something to write home about. And we find it interesting that if the S&P 500 were to drop -5 percent from its 4/2 high, it would wind up right at the 150-day moving average.

    So, if the bears can keep the momentum going this week, the 1790 area may be the first real downside target.

    But as we stated in the beginning of this morning's meandering market missive, there is no obvious catalyst to this move other than people trying to get out of the way of the mo-mo train to the downside. As such, this remains a very interesting market and something that we will need to watch VERY closely this week.

    Tomorrow we'll look at if it is "time" for a really meaningful decline.

    Looking for a disciplined approach to managing stock market risk on a daily basis? Check Out My "Daily Decision" System. Forget the fast money and the latest, greatest option trade. What investors need is a strategy to keep them "in" the stock market during bull markets and on the sidelines (or short) during bear markets.

    Turning to This Morning...

    Tensions in Ukraine are heating up again. Pro-Russian activists now occupy buildings in eastern Ukraine and President Turchynov said he would not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario. Overnight markets were mixed with Asian markets seeing fractional changes while European bourses are red across the board. However, while U.S. futures opened lower on Sunday evening, prices have steadily improved and now point to a higher open on Wall Street. Traders will be looking for earnings from Citi and economic data before the bell.

    Pre-Game Indicators

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

    Major Foreign Markets:
    - Japan: -0.36%
    - Hong Kong: +0.15%
    - Shanghai: +0.07%
    - London: -0.38%
    - Germany: -0.56%
    - France: -0.43%
    - Italy: -0.90%
    - Spain: -1.25%

    Crude Oil Futures: -$0.09 to $103.65

    Gold: +$3.20 at $1332.20

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

    10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading lower at 2.635%

    Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    - S&P 500: +4.96
    - Dow Jones Industrial Average: +44
    - NASDAQ Composite: +11.15

    Thought For The Day...

    "And oftentimes excusing of a fault, doth make the fault the worse by the excuse." --William Shakespeare

    Positions in stocks mentioned: none

    Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave


    The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning's opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of StateoftheMarkets.com and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. One should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

    Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

    The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

    The information contained in this report is provided by Ridge Publishing Co. Inc. (Ridge). One of the principals of Ridge, Mr. David Moenning, is also President and majority shareholder of Heritage Capital Management, Inc. (HCM) a Chicago-based money management firm. HCM is registered as an investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Ridge is a publisher and has not registered as an investment adviser. Neither HCM nor Ridge is registered as a broker-dealer.

    Employees and affiliates of HCM and Ridge may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

    Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

    Apr 14 8:13 AM | Link | Comment!
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