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David Moenning is a the Chief Investment Officer at Heritage Capital, which focuses on active risk management of the U.S. stock market. Dave is also the proprietor of StateoftheMarkets.com, which provides free and subscription-based portfolio services. Dave began his investment career in 1980... More
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Daily State of the Markets
  • Breakout Or Fakeout - How Can We Know For Sure? 0 comments
    Feb 28, 2014 7:55 AM

    Daily State of the Markets
    Friday, February 28, 2014

    The question of the day remains largely the same as it has been for the past four trading sessions: Will a modest breakout to new all-time highs mean that the rally that began on February 4 continue or become just another maddening "breakout fakeout?"

    To be honest, only time will tell. However, the business of investing is about staying on the right side of the really big, important move. So, while we can't know what the future will hold - especially in this day and age when the algos can push the S&P 500 up or down 1 percent just for the heck of it - we CAN try to make sure the odds are in our favor before we make a commitment.

    So, this morning, we will attempt to do just that by running down our list of important market models to see where they stand in the hopes that perhaps a theme will emerge.

    Putting The Odds of Success In Your Favor

    To be sure, there are no perfect indicators. There is no holy grail that will get an investor in the market at the bottom every time and out at the top. Not gonna happen. No way, no how. Doesn't matter how many PhD's you put on the project or how much computing power you have. Ms. Market's game simply cannot be mastered with a magic indicator.

    However, one CAN attempt to put the odds of being on the right side of the market in their favor by developing a series of unemotional, mathematically-based, market models.

    To clarify, we are NOT talking about creating a black box which spits out magical buy and sell signals. No, we are talking about ways to quantify the market's historical drivers and tendencies.

    For example, everybody knows that it doesn't pay to "fight the Fed." So, it would seem to make sense to have a model to tell us whether or not the Fed is friendly. Staying in tune with the Fed doesn't work in all environments. But since it does work in most environments, this is an area you want to pay attention to.

    Experienced investors also know that it doesn't pay to "fight the tape." So again, the game plan is to build models that indicate when the tape is healthy. The bottom line here is that when the trend and momentum indicators are hitting on all cylinders, stocks tend to go up. As such, if the trend and momentum models are positive, one should give the bulls the benefit of the doubt. And when these indicators are negative, history shows that it is a pretty good idea to get the heck out of the way.

    Our Market Environment Model is designed to, as you might suspect, indicate the "state of the market." In simple terms, we want to know what type of animal we are dealing with. You see, experience has taught us that it pays to play the game one way when the bulls are in charge and a completely different way when the bears are holding sway.

    So, the first step is to figure out whether the odds favor the bulls, the bears, or something in between. Toward this end, we have created ten indicators/models - each with an area of specialty - that make up our Market Environment Model.

    So, without further ado, let's run them down.

    What Do The Models Say?

    Trend and Breadth Confirm Indicator: The idea here is that when the trend of the stock market (as determined by a simple moving average) and the breadth of the market (the advance/decline line) agree, the message is confirmed. It's a simple concept, but when this indicator is positive, the market has advanced at a rate of 33 percent per year. Current Reading: Positive

    Trend Ratings: It is important to understand the time-frame relationships in the market. Therefore, we want to take the pulse of the market on both a short- and intermediate-term basis. We define short-term as 3-days to 3-weeks and the intermediate-term as 3-weeks to 3-months.

    As the saying goes, the most bullish thing a market can do is go up. Again, it's a very simple concept, but the trend can be a very good friend if you are on the right side of a big move. Therefore, we want to know whether the trends are positive, negative, or neutral.

    Current Reading - Short-Term Trend: Positive
    Current Reading - Intermediate-Term Trend: Positive

    Cycle Composite: While there is no such thing as a crystal ball, looking at a composite of the one-year, the four-year, and the 10-year cycles can be very enlightening. The key here is that the market will oftentimes move in accordance of its historical cycles. Therefore, we look at the projection of the cycle composite each and every day. Today's Reading: Positive

    Volume Relationship: History shows that when "demand volume" is above "supply volume" the S&P 500 index has gained ground at an annual rate of 11.7 percent. And when "supply volume" is above "demand volume," the S&P has lost ground at a rate of -6.1 percent. So, clearly it might be beneficial to pay attention to this relationship. Current Reading: Neutral

    Investor Sentiment: There have been volumes written about investor sentiment. But it is important to recognize that this is a very misunderstood area of study. The bottom line is fairly simple though; when sentiment reaches an extreme, it means that investors have already taken action and it might pay to start thinking about going the other way.

    Our Sentiment model tells us that the S&P loses ground at the rate of -10.6 percent per year when there is too much optimism, the S&P gains at a rate of 30.9 percent when there is too much pessimism, and manages to gain about 7 percent when the model is neutral. Current Reading: Neutral

    Risk Model: This is a model of models designed to tell us the level of risk in the market. When the model is positive (meaning risk is low), the S&P has gained at a rate of 28 percent per year. When the model is neutral, the market has gained at an annual rate of about 8 percent per year. And when the model is negative, stocks lose ground at rate of -24 percent per year. Current Reading: Neutral

    Market Mode Model: This model attempts to identify whether the stock market is in a trending mode or a "mean reverting" mode (i.e. a sideways market). When stocks are trending, it would pay to follow trend-oriented indicators. And when the market is in a "mean reverting" mode, it is generally a good idea to utilize a swing-trading approach. Current Reading: Mean Reverting

    Economic Model: Although the state of the economy doesn't always drive the stock market, it often does. Therefore, it makes sense to know the relationship between the market and the economy. For example, when the economic model is very positive, stocks gain ground at a rate of 23.7 percent per year. When the model is neutral, stocks advance by 11 percent per year. And when the model is very negative, the S&P has fallen at a rate of -23 percent per year. Current Reading: Moderately Positive

    Industry Health Model: Finally, one of the best ways to stay in tune with the market's overall environment is to look at the "technical health" of the 103 sub-industry groups. When most of the groups are trending higher and technically "healthy," the S&P has gained at a rate of more than 30 percent per year. And when this model is negative, stocks lose at a rate of -15 percent per year. Current Reading: Neutral

    What's the Message?

    Currently, 6 of our 10 models/indicators are positive, 4 are neutral and 0 are negative. Thus, the overall model score is +6. The bottom line... drumroll please... This is a positive reading and tells us to give the bulls the benefit of the doubt.

    So, while the algos giveth and the algos taketh away on a hourly basis, the message from our Market Environment Model is that the odds favor higher prices over in the next week or so. Again, there are no guarantees in this game, but if one stays in tune with the message from this type of model, they are likely to stay on the right side of the big, important moves. And THIS is where the really big money in this game is made.

    Publishing Note: I have an early meeting on Monday and will not publish a report. Daily State will return on Tuesday.

    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...

    New unrest in the Ukraine (this time there are troops involved) is the major news overnight after Janet Yellen's comments on the weather and the taper pushed U.S. indices to new highs. Today it appears that traders are waiting on additional inputs in the form of the first revision to Q4 GDP, Chicago PMI, UofM Consumer Sentiment and Pending Home Sales. At this time futures are pointing to a flat 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: -0.55%
    - Hong Kong: +0.04%
    - Shanghai: +0.42%
    - London: -0.24%
    - Germany: -0.14%
    - France: -0.58%
    - Italy: -0.41%
    - Spain: -1.58%

    Crude Oil Futures: -$0.15 to $102.25

    Gold: -$3.30 at $1328.50

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

    10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.665%

    Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    - S&P 500: +0.06
    - Dow Jones Industrial Average: +7
    - NASDAQ Composite: -1.00

    Thought For The Day...

    The meaning of life is to give life a meaning. -- Unknown

    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.

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