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Wait For It ! February 29, 2020

Posted by Tom in Thoughts.
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Feb. 28, 2020 –  The British (I’m told) have a saying:  “Wait for it!”.  And now it’s all about being patient.  This week was significant in many ways, but if we’re temped to “buy the dip” we might want to be extra cautious even though that has worked well in the past +3 years.  You see . .  it’s all about the perception of earnings growth, which is derived from revenue.  If demand remains high and supplies are disrupted (i.e. China), revenue falls.  If supplies are good (high), but demand for products and services drop (low consumer confidence), well . .  revenue drops.

The corona virus has many folks in both the product and service sectors very concerned.  Even with the “bullish bar” on Friday, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the worst is over.  Markets don’t go up in a straight line, nor do they go down in a straight line (assuming this is not a “dip”).

As you can see the drop started on Monday and just continued all week.  Volume was significantly high as investors sold and computer amplified the selling automatically.  Now I’m looking at 8438 as support and 8943 as resistance levels on the NASDQ Composite Index.

How bad was this drop?  On the S&P 500 blue chip index, you would have to go back to Oct. 10, 2019 to find the same price level.  Every gain in between was wiped out.  You could also go as far back as Sept. 20, 2018 (a year and a half ago) to see nearly the same level.  When things like this happen I like to go back and see if there was any clear signs of an impending drop.  The chart below stood out to me.

The indicator is the Cumulative Volume indicator which measures volume of Up bars to the volume of Down bars.  (click on chart to enlarge)  The gray line is the closing price of the S&P 500 Index.  Note that all during the month of February while the S&P made new highs, the indicator was falling.  For all 500 stocks, there was more volume on down bars that up bars; an indication of Distribution (selling).  Only a few big names were propelling the index higher.

I could post a table on sectors, but in all reality the only one doing well was Treasury Bonds.  A flight to safety.  Even Gold and Gold Miners began to fall by mid week.  So now what?  “Wait for It !”.

There are too many things going on to assume the all clear.  This is a news driven market, so watching how markets react to news will give a clue.  Remember: “Weak markets react badly to bad news, while strong markets ignore it”.  Watching the bar strength (price and volume) will confirm that folks are trying to return.  I’d expect a small rally around mid week.  If that holds, maybe we start to consolidate prices within a low range for a few weeks while the true impact of this virus is felt. Maybe in a few weeks we’ll see a rebound, or if bad news continues we could see a resumption of lower prices.  At this point, it’s all about revenue and what corporations project for the future.  This is NOT the garden variety “buy the dip” situation.  Too much damage has been done.  It will take a while to recover.

I put on a light hedge a week ago Friday, then added to it last Monday.  Through the week I just had to sell stocks and ETF’s.  I am now pretty much “Cash Neutral” with hedges, holding only a few good mutual funds.  I took some losses, but managed to dodge most of it.   Have a good week and keep your powder dry !   🙂    …………  Tom  ………..

Price chart by MetaStock  & TC 2000.  Used with permission.

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