Seeking Alpha

Matthew Claassen's  Instablog

Matthew Claassen
Send Message
Matthew Claassen, CMT is founder and Partner of Claassen Research, LLC, providing exclusive private consulting, market strategy and investment research to institutional investment managers. His work combines proprietary technical indicators with macro-economic and sector analysis to provide... More
My company:
Claassen Research, LLC
View Matthew Claassen's Instablogs on:
  • We Can Tell You When The Dollar Should Bottom
     (Excerpted  from our weekly Market Update)
     
    We have been fortunate in the accuracy of our past forecasts of trend changes in the U.S. Dollar Index. The trend in the U.S. Dollar Index is still a major influence on equity prices and commodities. Because of this, investors in any asset class should also remain focused on the Dollar’s trend and be alert to its potential affect on their portfolio.  Some of our previous forecasts of Time Windows for a change in trend of the U.S. Dollar Index include:
     
    ·         October 22, 2009:  “We believe the next window of opportunity for a major trend change in the dollar is November 20th through 25th.” (The U.S. Dollar Index bottomed on November 26, 2009, during our Thanksgiving holiday.)
     
    ·         May 14, 2010: “We expect the (U.S. Dollar) index to peak in the June 01 through June 10 time period.” (The U.S. Dollar Index peaked on June 07, 2010.)
     
    ·         July 23, 2010: “For the U.S. Dollar Index, the first week of August would be the next reasonable time period to expect an attempt at a corrective low.” (The corrective low occurred on Friday, August 06, 2010.)
     
    In past weeks, our most recent forecasts have warned subscribers to look for a potential reversal of the U.S. Dollar Index’s downtrend during the last week of October or first week of November.    With the U.S. Dollar Index once again at sentiment extremes, and both our short and intermediate trend indicators at oversold levels historically found only at past important bottoms, the probability of a meaningful rally starting during our cited Time Window is high. As such, we thought it might be useful to share with our readers some of what goes into the formulation of our time forecasts.
     
    Readers familiar with our work understand that most of our intermediate trend forecasts are based on a concept of proportion; that although there is noise and randomness in the markets day to day behavior, important trend changes are typically made in price and time proportion to past market behavior. This concept is not new. Although it has evolved over the years, its origins can be dated back to at least the very early 1900’s.   In fact, illustrated in the chart below is one of those first observations; that many commodities (and currencies) have a tendency to reverse trend in periods of time in which 72 Calendar Days (CD) is a factor. 
     
    In the chart of the U.S. Dollar Index below, we have noted six different occasions over the past two years where the Dollar has reversed trend at either 72 Calendar Days, 144 CD’s or 216 CD’s (72 x 3) from previous turning points. This is not a cycle. Cycles are measured from low to low. These periods of proportion can be measured from high to high, high to low or low to low. In order to not confuse this with a cycle, we often refer to this behavior as a rhythm. There are actually several 144 day rhythms within the chart below that we did not illustrate simply because it would have made the chart a bit crowded. In each case illustrated, the red date is the starting date (the “from” date), the blue and magenta dates illustrate 72, 144 or 216 calendar day rhythms that forecasted a multi-week high or low. It should be noted that the August 06, 2010 low is not marked on the chart. This is not an accident; we simply used a different series of common proportions to identify that period for a potential change in trend.
     
    US Dollar Index Daily with 144 Calendar Day Rhythms
     
    The current forecast calls for a potential turning point either in the last week of October or the first week in November. As marked on the chart; Friday, October 29th is 144 CD’s from the June 07, 2010 high. We have other proportions, not illustrated, that suggest a low as early as Monday, October 25th and as late Friday, November 05th, neatly bracketing October 29th in the center of the period. The assumption is that this period would be a low because the U.S. Dollar is in a downtrend, is exceptionally oversold and negative sentiment is at an extreme. However, there is one caveat with time analysis that does not exist in price analysis; the proportions, or rhythm, only indicate that the time period centered on October 29th has a high probability of reversing the Dollar’s direction. The rhythm does not care in what direction the Dollar is trending. If, for example, the Dollar started to rally today and actually advanced for several weeks into this time period, the time period could just as easily mark a rally high.  That is not a high probability, but it’s an important concept when dealing with time analysis. In the chart above, the first magenta time period, September 25, 2008 is a perfect example of this potential. The Dollar’s rally in early September, ’08 gave the appearance that the 72 CD time period of September 25th would be a high. Instead, the Dollar reversed sharply in mid month, creating a low near September 25th.  
    Will This Be the End of the Dollar’s Decline?
     
                Considering that recent investor sentiment readings show only 3% bulls for the US Dollar, and that our intermediate trend indicators are very close to being as oversold as they were preceding the November, 2009 low, the next rally in the US Dollar has the potential to be a multi-month or even a multi-year low. However, allowing for the current political and economic environment, we would not make such a forecast. Even more, a long term forecast is simply not necessary at this stage. What is important is that the public sentiment around the U.S. Dollar is at an extreme level, suggesting investors should expect at least a four to six week rally that is strong enough and long enough to negatively impact equity prices. 
     
    Lastly,there is one nagging item that feels different this time. In our past calls of major trend changes in the U.S. Dollar Index (in November, ’09 and June ’10) we felt all alone in our opinion. This time, we most definitely are not.  It feels that too many analysts are calling for a major low in the U.S. Dollar Index. As such, our contrarian antennae are alerted to the possibility that the coming low might not be the end of the Dollar’s downtrend, but possibly an important interruption.  If the Dollar’s downtrend resumes after the next multi-week rally, or if the period around October 29th does not stop the current downtrend, we would look to December 28th, 2010, 144 CD’s from the August 06 low, as the next Time Window with the potential to end the Dollar’s downtrend.
     

    Matthew Claassen, CMT
    Claassen Research, LLC
    www.ClaassenResearch.com
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The information contained in this publication was prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed and is not a complete summary, or statement of all data.  Opinions may change without notice. This report is published for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a solicitation or an offer or recommendation to buy or sell any financial security.  Trading and investing involves risk and past performance may not be an indication of future performance.  Claassen Research, LLC and its author accept no liability for any loss or damage resulting from the use or misuse of this report.  No Quantitative formula, technical or fundamental system can guarantee profitable results.  Reproduction allowed only in its entirety and with full credit to the author.  All rights reserved. © 2010, Claassen Research, LLC.


    Disclosure: No Positions
    Oct 18 11:56 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Are Investors Seeing Slowing Global Economies?
    With short term support levels now violated, a decline toward the January highs is very likely. The support ranges around the January highs are 1153 to 1140 on the S&P 500 and 10730 to 10655 for the DJIA.
     
    The question now is; what is the probability of the January high holding?
     
    From a purely technical perspective, we can argue that the January high should hold. Daily momentum oscillators are near oversold and longer term technical indicators that measure breadth (Advance Decline Line, % Above 150-Day Average etc) have not shown the kind of erosion that typically precedes a major market top. The only significant evidence of technical erosion is the rising Selling Volume, and that can be short term in nature. 
     
    However, there are two points to consider from a technical perspective: first I detailed in last week’s Market Update, there is evidence that the leading tendency of these indicators was not reliable in past liquidity driven rallies. Second, I noted that the period from May 04th to May 14th, with a focus on May 5-7 should be a period with a potential for increased volatility. From experience, this could include a sharp decline and reversal. 
     
    Other than support levels, some leading indications of investor outlook toward the economy are painting a less than optimist picture:  
     
    ·         10 Year US Treasury Yield: over the past ten years rising treasury yields have been a positive for the equity market as they have reflected economic growth or “reflation”. Falling yields have been indicative of a slowing economy. The 10 Year Yield peaked in early April and has now (as of today) confirmed that the rally in yields from the October ’09 low is over.
    ·         Japan: we have detailed in past issues that Japan’s Nikkei 225 has been a consistent leading or coincident indicator of the US market and reflation vs. contraction since 1998. Unfortunately, Japan’s equity markets are closed for the week due to their holiday.
    ·         Australia: Australia’s commodity exports rely more on China and Japan than the US and thus could reflect the rate of growth of those economies. Latest reports show that Australia’s exports to China are twice their exports to the US. Their exports to Japan are three times their exports to the US. The Australian equity market, as indicated by the ASX 200, peaked on August 15th and has already retraced more than half its gains from the February low. The amount of this decline suggests a retest of the February low, for the ASX 200, is a reasonable expectation.
    ·         Basic Materials are a leading sector in this decline, including weakness in copper and now oil. If investors were optimistic about growth, this sector should be leading at this stage of the rally.
     
    Putting it all together: if the decline in the S&P 500 and DJIA violates the January high support levels, it would suggest investor expectations of slowing growth global and U.S. economies, in addition to the sovereign debt issues in Europe, outweigh any positive current economic news.  The probabilities would then favor a retest of the 200 day average or the February low. 
     
    If the support levels marked by the January high hold, then the probabilities would favor another rally attempt and retest of the April high. 
     
    Matthew Claassen, CMT


    Disclosure: No Positions
    Tags: ASX, SPY, XLB, IEF
    May 04 2:18 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Market Breadth; A Sign of Health or a Symptom of Excess Liquidity
    “It’s different this time.”…. those famous last words carved into the headstones of thousands of lost investors of decades past. While we desire never to be caught with those words leaving our lips, in truth every market cycle has something different than the previous.   Equally important, each market cycle shares similarities to one or more past bull or bear markets.   Under that pretext, to best understand the current market we should consistently ask ourselves; how is this market environment similar to past markets and how is it different?
     
    I thought it prudent to step back and re quiz myself on the above when I came to realize from current readings that, after sixty weeks of advance resulting in a gain of over 80% in the broad market, almost every market strategist and technician I know is bullish. In some cases wildly bullish with comments like “…any market correction must be at least a year away” and “the market is nowhere near a top”. …Wow. Now, I like bull markets, especially this one, and I hope it will continue. But, I am at heart a contrarian. So when I see a crowd leaning too far in any one direction, with growing enthusiasm, I cannot help but search for a counter argument to forewarn and forearm myself against the surprised stampeding herd.
     
    Many of the arguments for further market gains rest in historical norms of indicators used by strategists for decades to measure the health of a bull market. In brief, the bullish arguments include:
     
    1.      The Advance Decline Line is at new highs, and it always declines before a Bull market high.
    2.      The percentage of stocks above their 50 day and 150 day averages is high, showing full market participation in the rally.
    3.      The number of new 52-week highs continues to expand and is stronger than any time since 1982! Here, too, this indicator should begin to contract months before a market high.
    4.      As long as small cap stocks are leading, the market is in fully bullish mode.
    5.      Breadth is more bullish than at any time in the last twenty years.
     
    For the most part, the above are different measures of breadth. It is true that historically many, if not most bull markets peak after a prolonged period of breadth erosion. However, not all bull markets end so gracefully. What I will present in these pages is a basis for why it may be that the record positive market breadth is more a symptom of a liquidity driven rally than a prolonged bull market.
     
     
    How is this market similar to past markets?
     
    If we define the current environment as a cyclical bull market within a secular bear trend, what are the similar time periods with which we can compare?
     
    Certainly, Japan’s equity market from 1992 is filled with liquidity driven cyclical bull markets to which we might compare the current market rally. Unfortunately, we have very little data other than price and volume. Thus, almost all we can say is Japan’s bull markets during the 90’s averaged about 50 weeks with 50% returns.   But here, I would note that the tops of these rallies were consistently an inverted “V”, not the rounded tops of which most current market participants expect. The inverted “V” tops suggest there was very little warning, if any, of the change in trend.
     
     Nikkei 225 1990-2003 Weekly
    Nikkei 225 1990-2003 Weekly
     
    We might also look at the US market during the previous secular bear from 1968-1982. Here, a simple examination of the Advance Decline line shows an environment nothing like what current market participants expect. Remember the Nifty Fifty? Market breadth peaked in 1959 and fell precipitously from January, 1966 to January, 1975. It should also be noted that the cyclical bull market peak of September, 1976 was not preceded by a top in the Advance Decline Line. To the contrary, the Advance Decline Line peaked in July, 1977, ten months later.   Since the Advance Decline Line is a measure of breadth, we can conclude that breadth did not behave in a “typical” manner for an entire decade of the last secular bear market, and could not have forewarned investors of the cyclical changes in trend.   That alone should question what we currently perceive as normal behavior for some indicators. But, this empirical evidence of “abnormal behavior” is just a side note compared to more recent and pertinent data.
     
     Advance Decline Line  1960-1980
    S&P 500 with NYSE Advance Decline Line 1960 – 1980 Weekly
     
    The first chart below is of the NYSE Composite during the period just before and after the September, 2000 bull market peak. In the bottom panel of the chart I have the NYSE Advance Decline Line, above that the Percent of Issues Above their 150 Day Average and in the next panel a 10 Day Average of Breadth (Advancing Issues / Total Issues) and its 150 Day average (red). 
     
    One can say that the Advance Decline Line led the market top. In fact the Advance Decline Line peaked in the second quarter of 1998, before even the 1998 bear market. It was too long a lead time to suggest its declining trend helped market timing. It appears that when coupled with the 1960’s, we can say that the Advance Decline line’s behavior as a leading indicator is not as infallible as many believe. But what I find most significant and possibly more relevant to the current situation, is that the NYSE Advance Decline Line bottomed as the NYSE Composite was forming its high, and began to climb in December of 2001. Yes, breadth was rising as the broad market declined.
     
    NYSE Composite 1998 -2003 with Breadth Indicators.
     
    Another indicator illustrated is the Percent of Stocks Above their 150 Day Average. The Percent Above indicator is valuable because it measures the percent of issues in a long term uptrend. A stock can show up as a negative on an Advance Decline Line because of a bad day, but if it remains above its 150 Day average it can be considered in a long term uptrend. In the case of the market decline from the September 2000 peak, the percent of stocks in a long term uptrend rose from a low in the first quarter of 2000 to over 80% more than a year into the bear market! 
     
    The next indicator on this chart is the 10 Day Breadth; a simple measure of the percent of stocks advancing. In red is this indicator’s 150 Day average. Certainly, if a bear market meant that most stocks were declining, this indicator wouldn’t be showing us more advancing issues. But it is. The percent of Advancing Issues gradually increased until about the same time that the Advance Decline Line and Percent Above 150 Day Average Peaked. 
     
     
    How can this happen? 

    NYSE & SP600
    NYSE Composite 1998 -2003 with the S&P 600 and Breadth Indicators
     
    The chart above of the NYSE Composite and indicators is identical to the first except we have added the S&P 600 Small Cap Index in orange. While the broad market was declining from 2000 to 2002 there was a stealth bull market in small cap stocks. One need only think of the number of components in the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index relative the S&P 100 Large Cap Index to understand there are many more small cap stocks in the NYSE Composite than large and mid cap stocks combined. Small cap stocks are the engine of market breadth. 
     
    This was a unique situation, and what made it unique is what makes it similar to today’s market. But the market strategist or investor looking for breadth erosion to signal the end of a bull market would not have been able to identify the end of this bull market until after the fact. 
     
    What does the bear market of 2000-2002 have in common with the current rally?
     
    The answer: excess liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve. 
     
    Remember Y2K? As the clock ticked closer to the end of the century many individuals and businesses were in a near panic, afraid that the computers we have grown to rely on will not function when the clock struck 12:00 am on January, 2001.   In order to ensure a functioning financial system the Federal Reserve distributed $80 billion in funds in the fourth quarter of 1999, compared to $23 billion a year earlier, in addition to special options that allowed excess liquidity for January, 2000.   After the Y2K issue was declared a non event, the Federal Reserve moved to take back as much liquidity as it could. But, there is no way the Federal Reserve can prevent the effect of excess liquidity echoing somewhere in the economy.
     
    The Y2K fear was not the only event that resulted in the Federal Reserve pumping liquidity into the economy during the 2000-2002 bear market. We can never forget the tragedy of September 11, 2001.   As a result, the Federal Reserve once again pushed emergency liquidity into the system in order to ensure its smooth function. In all the Fed injecting approximately $81 billion into the government securities markets, loaned approximately $46 billion from the discount window and executed a series of currency swaps with the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Canada totaling an additional $90 billion.
     
    Between the Y2K fears and the September 11th tragedy approximately $275 billion of excess liquidity was fed into the system. As noted earlier; somehow somewhere, excess liquidity always finds its way into the markets. Considering that in the middle of the greatest bear market decline in nearly three decades, and eight months after the 2001 emergency liquidity, the S&P 600 small cap index made a new all time high. I suspect that some excess liquidity found its way into speculative small cap issues. As a result, the market breadth indicators all pointed to a broad market bull that didn’t exist.   Breadth measures showed the market to be stronger than the indexes could possibly portray as the advancing masses of low priced small cap securities overpowered their large and mid cap counterparts. Can you imagine what those breadth indicators would have looked like if all this occurred during a bull market? Perhaps that’s what they look like today.
     
    Conclusion
     
    As stated in the opening paragraph; to best understand the current market we should consistently ask ourselves; how is this market environment similar to past markets and how is it different?
     
    A characteristic of virtually every bull or bear market is to continue in one direction until sometime after the majority of participants are convinced the trend is sustainable. With bullishness of both individual investors and market strategists at extremes it is time to ask ourselves “how can this market fool the most people?”   Should we really expect it to simply continue higher until sometime after the indicators so many analysts are watching give a sell signal?  Although past examples of liquidity driven rallies are limited, they consistently illustrate a sharp inverted V top indicative of a change in trend with little warning. 
     
    Disclaimer: This information was prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed and is not a complete summary, or statement of all data pertinent to an investment decision.  Opinions may change without notice. This report is published for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a solicitation or an offer or recommendation to buy or sell any financial security.  Trading and investing involves risk and past performance may not be an indication of future performance.  Claassen Research, LLC and its author accept no liability for any loss or damage resulting from the use or misuse of this report.  No Quantitative formula, technical or fundamental system can guarantee profitable results.  All rights reserved. © 2010, Claassen Research, LLC.


    Disclosure: No Positions
    May 03 1:24 PM | Link | Comment!
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers
Posts by Themes
Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.