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Waiting for the S&P and Nasdaq to make up their minds- September 17, 2010

|Includes: DBA, iShares MSCI Chile Capped ETF (ECH), IDX, THD, TUR
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September 17, 2010

Like the previous day, stocks got off to a lower start yesterday morning. However, this time the market failed to rebound immediately. Instead, the major indices drifted in a tight, sideways range throughout most of the day. Buying interest in the final hour of trading lifted the broad market higher, enabling the main stock market indexes to finish near the flat line. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.2% higher, the Nasdaq Composite eked out a gain of 0.1%, and the S&P 500 was unchanged. Small and mid-cap stocks showed relative weakness. The Russell 2000 Index fell 0.7% and the S&P MidCap 400 lost 0.3%. Most of the major indices closed near their intraday highs.

Total volume in the NYSE was on par with the previous day's level. Turnover in the Nasdaq eased 12%. In both exchanges, volume was below 50-day average levels. In the NYSE, declining volume marginally exceeded advancing volume. The Nasdaq adv/dec volume ratio was fractionally positive.

Yesterday was an "inside day" for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. This means their intraday highs were lower than the previous day's highs, and their intraday lows were higher than the prior day's lows. Generally,"inside days" are representative of nothing more than a lack of direction. That's fair to say, as this has been the case for most of the week. Again, the S&P and Nasdaq remain at pivotal resistance levels from their August highs. Until they make a definitive move, there's not much to do with regard to new positions. Overtrading while the market is trying to make up its mind is a surefire way to churn your account.

Perhaps one of the most productive things a trader can do right now is to build a watchlist of ETFs with relative strength and very steady trends. Doing so will enable one to quickly take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. In that regard, select international ETFs are definitely candidates to consider. Chile (NYSEARCA:ECH), Thailand (NYSEARCA:THD), Turkey (NYSEARCA:TUR), and Indonesia (NYSEARCA:IDX) are among the few ETFs presently trading at fresh all-time highs. As such, a pullback to their 20-day exponential moving averages could present low-risk entry points. A handful of other international ETFs (INP, EWH, EWS, et cetera) are trading at new 52-week highs, though not all-time highs.

Yesterday, we sold our TUR position, locking in a gain of approximately 4 points on the trade, but it is on our watchlist for potential re-entry on a pullback. This is also what we did with PowerShares Agriculture (NYSEARCA:DBA), which we sold for a nice profit in the beginning of August, re-entered on a pullback later in the month, then sold into strength again for another gain. Next week, we'll take a look at some annotated charts, detailing specific entry points of strong ETFs to consider on a pullback. For now,we are primarily in "SOH mode" (sitting on hands).

The commentary above is an abbreviated version of our daily ETF trading newsletter, The Wagner Daily. Subscribers to the full version receive specific ETF trade setups with detailed trigger, stop, and target prices, as well as daily updates on all open positions. Intraday Trade Alerts are also sent via e-mail and/or text message, on as-needed basis. For your free 1-month trial to the full version of The Wagner Daily, or to learn about our other services, please visit

Deron Wagner is the Founder and Head Portfolio Manager of Morpheus Trading Group, a capital management and trader education firm launched in 2001. Wagner is the author of the best-selling book, Trading ETFs: Gaining An Edge With Technical Analysis (Bloomberg Press, August 2008), and also appears in the popular DVD video, Sector Trading Strategies (Marketplace Books, June 2002). He is also co-author of both The Long-Term Day Trader (Career Press, April 2000) and The After-Hours Trader (McGraw Hill, August 2000). Past television appearances include CNBC, ABC, and Yahoo! FinanceVision. Wagner is a frequent guest speaker at various trading and financial conferences around the world, and can be reached by sending e-mail to:

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