Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Trader's Library

It's the start of a long weekend, so I thought I'd share what I read every day to get a feel for the markets.  There's so much stuff out there, it's impossible for any one person to cover it all.  But here's what I've found useful, so head to the beach, load up your laptop or Eye-Pad, and enjoy!  Marketwatch is a nice web site full of both news and interesting commentary.  It also has a very active user community that never fails to chime in on most any topic.  I find that reading the comments is often as useful as the articles, mostly for their contrarian value.  Finviz is the Swiss Army knife of financial web sites.  Its main focus is on charts and numbers rather than news and commentary.  It's fast, free, and well laid out.  It also has a great stock screener. Seeking Alpha is more for the serious trader than Marketwatch.  Lots of excellent news and commentary here too.  The user contributions tend to be more sophisticated than over on Marketwatch. A relatively new addition to my reading list, Morningstar has an extensive site, most of which I haven't explored yet.  This is where I get the Morningstar Market Fair Value Indicator I often refer to in my posts.

In addition to these web sites, there are a few blogs I read:  Quantifiable Edges, by Rob Hanna is interesting.  Most every day, he does an analysis of what happened in the past when certain current market trends existed, carrying out the results of a hypothetical investment 10 days.  There's also a paid section (that I don't subscribe to).  Cam Hui is the Humble Student of the Markets and publishes interesting macro-view commentary on market-related topics.  His blog is well-written, well-researched, and thought provoking. This is J-Trader's Market Analysis.  He recently was kind enough to contact me and bring this blog to my attention.  He has a quant system going that he makes freely available and posts daily updates.  I've just started following this one, but it looks pretty impressive so far.

This isn't reading, but I also generally have CNBC going on a separate monitor, usually with the sound down low.  I never make trading decisions based on the endless parade of talking heads that appear there, but I find it is a useful source for breaking news.  You can subscribe to a real-time news feed, but then you're stuck having to watch and evaluate every item that pops up to get any benefit from it.  CNBC does this work for you.

And finally, although this one is no longer published, it is the greatest gem in the blogosphere on the psychology of trading as far as I'm concerned.  I refer of course to the great Dr. Brett Steenbarger's  He was kind enough to leave it up when he took his services private last year.  Even though it's no longer current, I highly recommend it to anyone who trades the market, from beginner to expert.  There's something in here for everyone.

All of these sources are free.  I don't subscribe to any pay services, not particularly because they're any better or worse, but simply because there's already so much good free information out there, I would never have time to get around to anything more.

Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with any of these information sources in any way other than as a regular reader.

The Dow comes through - can it last?

Last Sunday I was very wrong about my call for the week.  But I think I made up for it last night when I gave nine reasons why the Dow would go up today, and only two half-hearted reasons why it might go down.  Turns out 9 beats 2 every time with a whopping 168 point gain to start off July with a bang and cap off an impressive solid five day winning streak.  I started a new rising regression trend channel and it came up with a Pearson coefficient of 0.991, about the highest I've ever seen.  And that's reflected in the daily momentum, which now stands at 68.75.

And that's sort of a problem.  We don't like to see momentum get this high because at these levels it's an overbought indicator.  For that matter, RSI is now in overbought territory and the short stochastic is peaking and looking like it's about to execute a bearish crossover.

I'm going to take a longer view on the monthly chart later this weekend, but for now I will say that after this great run, my initial reaction is to be cautious for next week.  More details to follow.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nine reasons why we can go higher on July 1st

One thing I like about the market is there's always something astonishing going on. Today it was the 154 point solid green candle the Dow put in. In just four days, we erased very nearly all of the losses from the entire month of June. Amazing.

So after such a big four day rally, can we still possibly go any higher? I get nervous saying it, but I think we still can, and here are no fewer than nine reasons why:

1. Today's gain was a solid green candle with no hint of indecision to it, not like a doji or other potential reversal indicators.

2. This week started off with a three white soldiers pattern and that's usually a very good rally indicator. Today's gain confirmed that.

3. Tuesday we exited the descending regression trend channel that's been bedeviling us since the start of May. That was a bullish trigger, and when that trigger was pulled, the bull ran like mad.

4. Tomorrow is July 1st. The first day of the month is historically bullish.

5. Today the Morningstar Market Fair Value Indicator, which has been gaining over the last few days went back over 1.0 for the first time since the beginning of June. That is not consistent with further market deterioration.

6. Both the Dow and ES are well above their daily pivot points, though not yet so far as to be overextended.

7. Just as the market put in a double bottom this week, the dollar put in a double top and broke under its confirmation line today. It shows no sign of turning tomorrow. Lower dollar, higher stocks.

8. The Dow weekly chart is still looking very strong.

9.  Volume has been increasing for the past three days, indicating we're not running out of buyers just yet.

And I've only got two contrary signs:

1. The VIX fell again today as I had expected and actually hit its lower Bollinger band before ending up forming a hammer. That is a potential reversal sign. Right now the VIX looks to have more chance of moving higher tomorrow than lower. Higher VIX, lower stocks. But remember, the market can lag a turn in the VIX by up to two days, so even a higher VIX tomorrow does not necessarily preclude further gains.

2. The ES indicators have now climbed into overbought territory.  But that can often go on for several days before the top is in, so that's not really 100% reliable at this point.

I guess we'll just have to see.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Still more gains possible

[Note - unfortunately, Blogspot went down last night just as I was about to publish this post. So here it is on Thursday morning instead of Wednesday night. Sorry.]

Sunday night I wrote that the outlook for this week was "very gloomy". Right now, that's getting my nomination for my worst call of the year, and it's only half over. We've been up three for three. And like Doublemint gum, today's 73 point gain in the Dow gave us two, two, two bullish signals in one. First, we broke above the 12,189 resistance level that formed the top of the double bottom formed this month. That's a classic bullish signal. And second, the long descending regression trend channel from May 2nd is now definitely broken.

In addition, the daily 200 MA (dotted orange line in the chart) is now flattening out as the gains from earlier this year fall over the event horizon. This makes it harder for any drops to hit it (now at 11,802). And while we did hit the upper Bollinger band today, the weekly Dow chart remains quite strong.

I actually think we still have room to run higher over the next two days, mostly based on the VIX. Yesterday the VIX put in a big hanging man. That was confirmed today with a long red candle providing a nearly 10% drop to close at 17.27. VIX now has no support until 15.5 and its lower Bollinger band isn't til 13.45. Its indicators are also all on their way lower.  Lower VIX, higher stocks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A tale of two regressions

Last night I was so uncertain I didn't even attempt making a daily market call. Turns out the Dow went up another 145 points. Where it ended is important. This number, 12,189 (blue line) is exactly the highs from our earlier rally this month. It was also support for the April lows and even the early March consolidation we saw.

I see three things going on here. First is it looks a lot to me like we have put in a double bottom this month, and that is a bullish reversal indicator. It remains to be seen if we can break out above the 12,189 resistance line to confirm that.

Second and third are the two regression trend channels on this daily Dow chart. We exited the first, shorter one eight days ago. We saw the bullish setup, and then the trigger, and we have indeed since gone higher. Now look at the other longer RTC going from May 2nd. Today we closed convincingly above its right edge. That is a bullish setup. If we can close outside the channel tomorrow, that will be a bullish trigger. That makes two bullish technical signs.

Meanwhile the weekly chart is also still looking bullish with the RSI and stochastic both having bottomed off highly oversold levels. There's not much guidance from the VIX tonight, having fallen into the middle of its Bollinger band range.

The futures meanwhile have been sagging a bit into the overnight and are now down about 0.2% at 1:30 AM EDT. ES is at 1291.75 which puts it in striking distance of tomorrow's daily pivot of 1287. That's tonight's key number, if we do go lower into the night and bounce off the pivot, things are looking good for tomorrow. But if we go through the pivot, then watch out.

After two days of such large gains (and note the declining volume there), I'm not at all sure that we can sustain this momentum into tomorrow, but I'm thinking we have a good shot of ending the week higher. Note that the week ends on July 1st, and that is a historically bullish day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Last Thursday night I thought the market would go up on Friday.  Instead, it went down - big.  Last night I thought the market would go down today and that's right, it went up - big.  With today's gain virtually equaling Friday's loss, I don't see any predictive power in the daily charts at all right now.

When we get into states like this, I like to back out to the weekly chart.  This paints a much more clear picture and a very bullish one as this Dow weekly chart shows.

On the weekly chart, all the daily lines kind of just merge together, but what emerges is a picture of support forming around the 12,000 level. But the most prominent feature is the stochastic (bottom indicator) which is currently highly oversold and has just executed a bullish crossover. This is a very reliable indicator and right now it's more oversold than I've ever seen it, including at any point in the Great Recession.. The current weekly candle has also already exited the descending RTC channel from the beginning of May, and that's also bullish.

On the other hand, the monthly Dow chart still looks weak. So at this point about all I can say is that on a weekly basis, things are looking up, in the longer term, say a month or two, not so hot, and I have no idea where we're going tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Very gloomy weekly outlook

With a fair number of good news items out late Thursday and the futures trending higher, I really thought there would be some follow-through on Friday to carry the market higher, despite charts that looked bearish.  Wow - was I ever wrong.  It looks like I am going to have to put my short hat on now simply because I had to eat my long hat.

Not that there isn't ample reason this Sunday evening to be gloomy for the upcoming week.  Check out the daily Dow chart here. This chart has the same markings I put down on June 12th showing four possible 200 MA intercept points. My guess back then was that we were headed for point C, being 11,819 three days from now. After last week's four day rally, it was looking like the intercept might not happen at all. Unfortunately, it now looks like we are right back on track for point C. And when we hit it, the market is going to go lower, probably to retest the March lows at 11,614. If that fails to hold, things could get really ugly.

Right now, the Dow has come off its overbought levels of last week but it still has lower to go before being anywhere near oversold. Of greater concern is that the selling volume has been increasing over the last three days. Also,the last week of June is historically a poor performer.

Next we see that the VIX executed a bullish engulfing pattern, which is generally a strong indicator that it is ready to go higher, and that is bad for stocks. Also, the VIX's indicators have all bottomed and its stochastic in particular has executed a bullish crossover. VIX higher, stocks lower.

Then we have Morningstar's Market Fair Value indicator, which remains at 0.95 and has been below 1.0 all month. We're not going to see a meaningful rally until that goes higher.

Add to this that all three futures I watch (ES, NQ, and YM) are down at the moment at 1 AM EDT by about a quarter of a percent, and the fact that last week's good news failed to inspire a rally as I had thought it might, and I'm not seeing much to drive this market higher tomorrow. I'm going to look for a lower close tomorrow, and quite possibly for the week as a whole. I was right 3 out of 5 times last week; let's see if I can do better this week.