Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend musings

The power of the triangle

Dow daily, ending 10.21
On Thursday night, I posted this chart of the daily Dow along with a couple of lines drawn in, like so and wrote
"you'll see a symmetrical triangle developing.  And it's centered right around the 11,500 S/R line (blue line).  It's now squeezed about as far as it can go, so I'd expect it to pop either Friday or next Monday."
Well check out what indeed happened on Friday:  With all due modesty, this is probably my call of the year.  And it is about as classic a textbook example of the symmetrical triangle chart pattern as you're ever going to see.

Dow daily, ending 10/22
For five straight days the spring kept on coiling tighter and tighter as the Dow oscillated about its S/R line at 11,500 until Thursday when we ended the day with a tiny 37 point gain.  And then, right on cue, on Friday the market went boiiing!  Just look at that last green candle.  The spring let go and we got a 267 point pop.  I find this chart to be most instructive.

In fact, this one move may be the most significant thing we've seen in quite a while.  It not only finally took us above the 11,700 resistance line going back to August but did it on the highest volume since October 4th, the day of the giant hammer that marked the low of the year so far.  We'll go into the short term implications of this tomorrow night.

My ES long play was also nicely rewarded, details to follow in tomorrow night's regular post.


Also on Friday, I got an email about the CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge, which I've been playing, along with what must be half the rest of the world.  Anyway, they said
"It came to our attention that there was a technical glitch in the current equity trading system, which a handful of players found and exploited to jump to the top of the leaderboard."
Um well yeah.  Jump, or more like ICBM rocket to the top.  Check out the top guy here:

 1 David KingWinter Park, FLORIDA$10,167,705.49
Up by 10 x?  In five weeks?  Starting with $1 million?  I don't think so.  And then out came some pretty smarmy details came out on Suitably Flip, here about just how it was done.  It includes allegations of team playing as well as exploiting the particular paper trading algorithm CNBC used to execute trades in order to gain an advantage.

But the kicker was that apparently the favorite trading vehicle for those wanting to rocket to the top by hook or by crook was none other than EK, Eastman Kodak, the company whose slow-motion suicide I've been chronicling in my post "The Rise and Fall of Eastman Kodak".  Now it was my understanding that penny stocks were supposed to be excluded from the contest, and EK certainly qualified for a couple of days there at the end of last month.  Even their current price of 1.32 should raise more than a few eyebrows.

And I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but it sure seems like it would be real easy to help out your CNBC contest trades by simultaneously pumping EK with real trades.  When a stock trades at a buck, that's not all that hard to do.  There are many many 5 minutes bars of EK between 9/30 and last Friday where the stock moved on volumes of under 200K shares for no apparent technical reason.  The SEC might want to take a look at Mr. King's trade logs.  Just saying.

Well anyway, CNBC pulled the plug on the contest halfway through and is apparently restarting the race from scratch next week.  Hey, that's fine with me, since I made a few trades that went bad while I keep thinking the market was going lower last week, so I get a free redo.  But honestly, I have neither the time nor the inclination to sit in front of my screen continuously from 9:30 AM to 4 PM putting on 500 trades (which is what was going on) every day for 10 weeks, not even for a million bucks.  Which isn't even a million after you throw in taxes and inflation (it's an annuity, not a lump sum).

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday looking vaguely higher

The Hoot 
Actionable ideas for the busy trader delivered daily right up front
  • Friday higher, low confidence.  Bull-bear ratio is 6:4.
  • ES pivot 1206.25.  Remaining above is bullish.
  • Next week bias higher..
  • Monthly outlook: bias up on technicals.
  • ES Fantasy Trader went long at 1214.00

Stock market ping pong
I just realized that the Dow has now changed daily direction for the past 11 sessions in a row.  The last time we had more than one day either up or down was on October 4-6.  And today we pretty much spanned the entire range we've been stuck in for what is now an eight day streak.

The fact that we finished with a 37 point gain is more due to the fact that that's where we happened to be when the bell rang than any market conviction.  This sort of ping pong match is enough to make your head spin.  So will the bulls hit it into the net or unleash an overhand smash on Friday?  Let's see if we can figure it out.  But first a special announcement.

The Night Owl Visits the Doctor

Copper futures G30 A0, daily
In a comment to last night's post, I got the following note: "before you cast the runes tonite, I would like to put in a special request that you have a short talk w my learned friend, Dr. Copper, Phd.".

 So taking the hint, I called up and luckily the good doctor had a cancellation.  And while sitting in his waiting room, an interesting chart just happened to slip out of the pages of a two year old copy of People Magazine.  I reproduce it here for your viewing pleasure.

We see here that copper futures have taken a tumble since the start of September culminating today in a gap-down red candle that has taken it clear down to its lower Bollinger band and coincidentally its early October lows.  While its indicators are not yet oversold, they're closer to that than overbought.

Hmm.  Say ah.  On the weekly chart, the indicators are quite oversold, but though copper remains in a descending regression trend channel it has now moved clear to its right hand edge.  News on copper is mixed, with some reports citing concerns in Europe and China for the recent decline and others suggesting that demand remains strong.

But if I throw in my two cents (made of pre-1982 copper, of course), I'd say copper is more likely to start climbing than going much lower from here.  Maybe not tomorrow or even in a week, but this recent sell-off looks overdone to me.  And since copper seems to be in positive correlation with the markets, that would be bullish for stocks.  So I give an honorary +1 bulls tonight to ol' Dr. C.  How'd I do?

The technicals

Dow daily
The Dow: Well, I was almost right about the Dow today.  Anyway, today's tiny range and equally tiny 37 point blip brought out something interesting.  Look at this daily chart and you'll see a symmetrical triangle developing.  And it's centered right around the 11,500 S/R line (blue line).  It's now squeezed about as far as it can go, so I'd expect it to pop either Friday or next Monday.

And since these things resolve in a continuation of the direction of entry about 75% of the time, that's the odds that we're in for some higher prices soon.  Of course since today was up, Ping Pong Theory would suggest that tomorrow will be down, but I think the triangle is going to assert itself here momentarily, and that's +1 bulls.  Stay tuned.

The VIX: Rose a tad on an inverted hammer/almost gravestone doji candle today.  And its indicators have decreased their rising slope suggesting a top is near.  Caution would dictate waiting for confirmation, but the Night Owl is moving way to the end of the limb and saying this looks like the VIX goes lower on Friday, and that's +1 bulls.

VIX futures:This chart looks a lot like the VIX itself but I get the impression the futures are running out of gas.  A reversal here would strengthen the case for the VIX running lower and that is another +1 bulls.

Market index futures: Today, we put in a tomahawk candle, (my own invention), part hammer, part doji.  And in the overnight, all three futures are advancing by better than a third of a percent.  I see a symmetrical triangle forming here too, which is bullish.  The indicators are mixed though, with momentum and money flow rising, the stochastic and OBV suggesting lower, and RSI abstaining.  So they pretty much cancel out.  Therefore on price action alone, I award +1 bulls.

ES daily pivot: Now 1206.25.  We broke over the Wednesday pivot this evening and since the Thursday pivot is lower, we're even further above it now with ES at 1213.75 at 2:05 AM EDT.  Looks good to me, so +1 bulls.

Dollar index: After a too tough to call night, the dollar went lower today on a nondescript red candle that seems to have taken some of the wind out of the rising indicators' sails.  Although its recent action is more wandering than trending, it could go lower still.  I note that it closed today right on its daily pivot without bouncing off.  This all has a vaguely bearish feel to it, so +1 bears.

Oil: Oil did indeed slide lower today as I expected last night but left us with a vague doji.  The indicators are calling for lower still and since there's a bit of wiggle room before we hit support, I'll go with that.  So +1 bears.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: Today the index declined from 0.86 to 0.85, so +1 bears.

History: According to The Stock Traders Almanac,on October witching day, the Dow has been down 5 straight and 6 of the last 7 years.  History like that rates a +1 bears.

     And the winner is...

The bulls in a squeaker, by a bull-bear ratio of 6:4.  I think this ratio reflects the fact that Friday is expiration day, and anything can happen.  And of course if Angela announces that she bought a lovely new hat, the market will soar.  But if the FT reports that Nicky's new shoes gave him a bunion, then the market will tank.  Such is life in 2011.

So after mulling it all over, it's a real tough one tonight.  If I had to make a call, I think I'd go with the bulls, but I think a better call is that anything may happen Friday.  Just keep watching the pivot.  As long as we stay convincingly above, we should be good.  That's all, she wrote.

ES Fantasy Trader

Today I finally threw in the towel on my short idea from a few days ago, covering at 1195.00 for a 1.5 point loss that felt like a victory considering that was close to the low of the day and that I'd been considerably more underwater two days ago.

Portfolio stats: the account  now stands at $129,750 after 25 trades (17 wins, 8 losses) since inception on 8/18 with $100K. 

BOT    10    ES    false    DEC11 Futures     1195.00    USD    GLOBEX    12:25:00
SLD    10    ES    false    DEC11 Futures     1193.50    USD    GLOBEX    OCT 18 01:52:04 
I may live to regret this, but tonight we go long at 1214.00.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday likely lower

The Hoot 
Actionable ideas for the busy trader delivered daily right up front
  • Thursday lower, medium confidence.  Bull-bear ratio is 1:6.
  • ES pivot 1211.75.  holding under is bearish.
  • Rest of week bas bias lower
  • Monthly outlook: bias up, on technicals.
  • ES Fantasy Trader remains short at 1193.50.

    Quote of the day
"I'm saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime….until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs."
- Steve Wynn, CEO, Wynn Resorts

Ah, finally!  It was the Beige Book to the rescue today, saving my call for a lower close with a drop-off that began promptly at 2 PM and ended with a 72 point loss for the Dow.  At last, I got one right.  Now of course one can argue that if it hadn't been for the BB, I would have been wrong again.  And I've been criticized in the past for taking credit for market moves predicted on a technical basis when the precipitating factor was some sort of news.  But it's really funny how often bad news comes out right at the top of candlestick reversal patterns and vice versa.

That said, we remain in a funny market lately as an alert reader pointed out in a comment to last night's post, a comment well worth reading I might add.  It really does seem that a sea-change of sorts is occurring lately in the markets.  I don't know if it's due to the VIX retreating from its insane levels above 40 recently, or simply that we're entering the traditionally strong fourth quarter, but it seems that bad news isn't tanking the market the way it did just a month ago.  Anyway, let's move on and run down the usual list of suspects to see where Thursday may go.

The technicals

Dow daily, Aug. 2010
The Dow: We've now completed six straight sessions just hanging at the top of a strong rally without heading back down again.  All summer long, the pattern was to hit a peak with a one or two day reversal signal around a hanging man, and then head right back down after a rally.  Now the indicators all peaked six days ago, but prices haven't budged at all.  In fact, it's reminding me a lot of this chart here.  This is the Dow daily from back in early August of last year.  Back then the Dow had been in rally mode for a month and then spent six days moving essentially sideways before finally retreating.

And today also marks six days that we've been wavering around the 11,510 level, unable to break over resistance at 11,650 (the August highs), nor fall below support at 11,400. Given this recent pattern, today's weak red candle has no predictive power.  However, four of my fave five indicators, RSI, momentum, stochastic, and OBV are all finally coming off their overbought broken levels, suggesting lower to come.  And there's that interesting historical precedent from last year.  On that basis, I give this one to the bears, +1.

The VIX: I did get this right last night when I called for the VIX to advance today despite it having put in a dark cloud coverish candle yesterday.  We got a 9% gain today.  And with no near term resistance plus indicators now just halfway to overbought, it looks like more upside is possible tomorrow.  And that's +1 bears.

VIX futures: This chart is a bit more clear than the VIX itself.  Today we got a classic bullish engulfing pattern that along with rising indicators also point to a higher VIX tomorrow.  So that's another +1 bears.

Market index futures: All down by a third of a percent at 1:35 AM EDT.  Today's red candle was the fourth day in a row that ES has changed course but remained in a fairly wide range of 1192-1232.  On that basis alone, with ES now at 1202.50, it's got 10 points lower to go Thursday.  And like the Dow, its indicators are now finally coming off their overbought levels.  Given that plus the facts that we hit the upper Bollinger band two days ago and bounced off and also broke 1211 support today, this is looking like +1 bears.

ES daily pivot: Is now 1211.75.  We fell below Wednesday's pivot  on the Beige Book and despite a comeback attempt up to about 8 PM, we remain below and are in fact drifting lower now.  That's +1 bears.

Dollar index: The dollar has been really getting jerked around the past two days on news out of Europe.  First a gravestone doji Tuesday, then a dragonfly doji today.  Those are both bearish signs.  On the other hand, the indicators are looking bullish.  Since the buck seems to be so news-driven this week, I'm not giving any points here tonight.  I don't know where this buck stops.  It will just have to find its own way on Thursday.

Oil: I got this one right last night too, calling for lower oil today.  Actually, oil's been reversing direction every day for the past five straight sessions.  However, its indicators are finally coming down from their broken-overbought levels and the ballistic trajectory of the chart looks to have peaked, so I'm going to call for oil lower again Thursday.  And with oil still in sync with the markets, that's +1 bears.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: Morningstar did not provide an update today, so no points awarded on this one.

History: According to The Stock Traders Almanac,Thursday, the day before October expiration, is actually quite strong historically, so +1 bulls.

     And the winner is...

The bears again, with a bull-bear ratio of 1:6.  With Asia selling off, more dyspepsia in Europe, Greeks rioting over the outrageous notion that they might have to work for the money they get, and a NH/NL ratio running over 2 to 1, I'm not feeling the love here.  I've got to conclude that we're going lower on Thursday.

ES Fantasy Trader

Today we remain short from two days ago - no new trade.  I think a bit more patience with this trade may pay off in the end.
Portfolio stats: the account remains $130,500 after 24 trades (17 wins, 7 losses) since inception on 8/18 with $100K. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday lower

The Hoot 
Actionable ideas for the busy trader delivered daily right up front
  • Wednesday lower, medium confidence.  Bull-bear ratio is 1:7.
  • ES pivot 1212.75.  Falling below is bearish.
  • Rest of week bias lower.
  • Monthly outlook: bias bias up, on technicals.
  • ES Fantasy Trader remains short at 1193.50.

Well another day, another miss.  I really thought we were going lower today, but once again was proven wrong.  Today's 180 point jump in the Dow made a mockery of my call for a lower close.  Or was I yet again, just one day too early?  The technicals look for all the world like they want to drive prices lower, but this market is having none of it.  If the 0:8 bull-bear ratio we had last night won't do it, what will?

The technicals

The Dow: The most I can say for the recent pattern in the Dow is that it looks like congestion with a slight negative bias.  The daily chart still looks overbought and even after today's pop, we were unable to take out the August highs.  And the weekly chart is forming a hanging man.  I just have to give this one to the bears.

The VIX: Dropped 5.5% today but remained above its support at 31, closing at 31.56.  Having hit its lower Bollinger band two days ago and bounced right back off, it seems more likely to continue higher from here, so +1 bears.

VIX futures: Traded entirely outside its latest descending regression trend channel and that's a bullish trigger.  With its bullish stochastic crossover complete, I'd say the futures look to go higher despite their drop today.  So that's +1 bears.

Market index futures: All three are down at 1:40 AM EDT with ES dropping 0.37% and NQ down 0.86%,  Like the Dow, ES is having trouble cracking resistance at 1221 and has been dealing with overbought indicators for seven straight sessions now.  They can't stay overbought forever without going lower.  +1 bears.

ES daily pivot: Is now 1212.75.  ES is just 6 points above that right now in rather directionless overnight trading.  If we break under the pivot, that would be bearish, but since we're holding above, for now at least, that's +1 bulls.

Dollar index: Formed a doji today indicating indecision.  With a bottom in from two days ago and still quite oversold indicators, I'd say the dollar has a better shot at going higher tomorrow and that would be +1 bears.

Oil: Oil bubbled up to its upper Bollinger band today before retreating slightly to 88.34.  It's virtually even in the overnight and that along with still overbought indicators suggests that oil will sink on Wednesday.  And that's +1 bears.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: Today the index made quite a move from 0.87 to 0.84.  That's definitely +1 bears.

History: Not much in the was of history for Wednesday according to The Stock Traders Almanac, so no points here.

     And the winner is...

The bears once again, with a bull-bear ratio of 1:7.  I know, I know, I said the same thing last night and the market went up today.  But what else can I do?  I'm not going to say, well things look bad so therefore I'm going to say the market will be up.   The story I'm sticking with is that the market is going lower Wednesday.  To do otherwise would be to invite the whipsaw.  I guess we'll see.

ES Fantasy Trader

Today we remain short from yesterday - no new trade.

Portfolio stats: the account remains $130,500 after 24 trades (17 wins, 7 losses) since inception on 8/18 with $100K. 


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Charts point to lower Tuesday

The Hoot 
Actionable ideas for the busy trader delivered daily right up front
  • Tuesday lower, medium confidence.  Bull-bear ratio is 0:8.
  • ES pivot 1206.08.  Staying below is bearish.
  • Rest of week bias lower.
  • Monthly outlook: bias up, on technicals.
  • ES Fantasy Trader went short at 1193.50.

Sigh - sometimes you just can't win for losing.  I've called the wrong direction for two of the past three days.  Last night I tried something different (working off the weekly charts rather than the dailies) and still came up short.  Or rather long when I should have been short.  In retrospect, I think my problem today was probably 70% lack of patience after waiting and waiting for the market to go lower last week, and 30% renewed noise out of Europe after a week of nothing.

So tonight it's back to the daily grind, I mean charts.  Let's give it another shot and see if I can't get back on track for a change.

The technicals

The Dow: With a nasty 247 point dump, the Dow made a bearish engulfing pattern today.  It also confirmed Friday's bearish regression trend channel setup.  And its indicators are all finally starting to come down from their overbought peaks.  That all looks bad, so +1 bears.

The VIX: Put in a gap-up green candle off highly oversold indicators and blew right past its resistance at 31.45 to close at 33.39.  There is nothing on this chart to suggest anything but a continuation to the upside Tuesday, so +1 bears.

VIX futures: The futures also made a tall solid green candle today.  Indicators are now coming off oversold.  Also the futures broke out of their descending RTC, pointing the way to go higher still.  That's all bad for stocks, so +1 bears.

Market index futures: These are mixed right now (1:40 AM EDT).  NQ is up a hair, YM is down a bit and ES is exactly flat.  ES did put in a bearish engulfing pattern today that reminds me a lot of the action we saw 8/31 and 9/1.  The next day then was another leg down.  With still overbought indicators that finally seem to be returning to life, this isn't looking good for the bulls, so +1 bears.

ES daily pivot: Now 1206.08.  ES is currently a good 14 points under this and has been drifting aimlessly in the evening trade.  It is in fact exactly where it closed the regular session.  In the absence of any great push higher, this is +1 bears.

Dollar index: A bullish piercing pattern today that bounced right off its 200 day MA, the dollar's indicators are all very oversold now.  RSI has actually already bottomed.  That all looks positive for the buck, and therefore bad for stocks, so +1 bears.

Oil: Today put in a classic dark cloud cover.  Its stochastic made a bearish crossover and OBV peaked yesterday, implying oil slipping on Tuesday.  Since oil is still in sync with the market, that's +1 bears.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: Did not update today, so no points here.

History: According to The Stock Traders Almanac,Tuesday historically underperforms, so +1 bears.

Sentiment: Once again it's Monday, so the new Ticker Sense Blogger Sentiment Poll  came out today.  The bullish numbers for the previous two weeks were 14% and then 21% before reversing suddenly to 56% last week.  This week we find the bullish number dropping just a bit to 55% and the bear climbing from 11% to 23%.

I find this interesting because last week the poll turned positive and we had a great week in the markets.  The conventional wisdom is that the crowd is always wrong - but maybe the Ticker Sense folks are smarter than the average bear, eh Boo Boo?

For the record, I voted bullish again this week, on the basis of my reading of the monthly Dow chart and the upcoming bullish fourth quarter seasonality.

     And the winner is...

The bears by a shut-out, with a bull-bear ratio of 0:8.  Now I see that J-Trader is giving a strong buy signal tonight which leaves me kind of conflicted.  I've been so wrong so often lately, I'd like to agree with him just because it seems like I'm becoming my own contrarian indicator.  But in the end, I have to go with the charts and right now the charts are saying lower on Tuesday.  C'mon Mr. Market, throw me a bone here.

ES Fantasy Trader

Tonight we go short at 1193.50.

Portfolio stats: the account remains $130,500 after 24 trades (17 wins, 7 losses) since inception on 8/18 with $100K. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday higher on weekly view

The Hoot 
Actionable ideas for the busy trader delivered daily right up front
  • Monday higher, medium confidence.  Bull-bear ratio is 7:0.
  • ES pivot 1211.25.  Current price is well above that.
  • Rest of week bias uncertain, more gains possible.
  • Monthly outlook: bias up, on technicals
  • ES Fantasy Trader standing aside.

Once upon a time, long long ago I was trying very hard to master a particular figure skating jump and it just wasn't working.  I kept trying and trying, and falling and falling.  Finally my coach said "If what you're doing isn't working, try something different".  So I did, and literally on my very next attempt, I landed the jump.  Right now, this is kind of how I'm feeling about this market.  I keep looking at the technicals and thinking this market is going lower.  And for two out of the last three days I've been flat out wrong.

So tonight I'm going to try something different.  I'm still going to make a call, but it's going to be based exclusively on weekly charts, not daily.  I'm getting the impression that something has changed recently in the market and it's time to try something different.  So let's see if we can stop falling down and land this forecast for Monday.

The technicals

The Dow: Put in its best week since June last week with a strong solid green candle after a successful test of its 200 week MA a week earlier.  Last week's close also pierced resistance at 11,525 albeit on lower volume than the week before.  And last week also brought us out of a descending weekly regression trend channel from the beginning of July.  With weekly indicators now clearly having bottomed and on the way back up again, the weekly chart goes to the bulls.

The VIX: Put in a tall red candle, the second in two weeks.  The VIX has clearly put in a weekly top here.  Candle-wise, there's nothing here to suggest higher this week, but the VIX is near support in the form of its 200 week MA at 27.6.  In any case, with a weekly close finally under 30 for the first time since July and indicators that are declining but not yet oversold, this chart looks like +1 bulls.

VIX futures: The futures, which had been on a near vertical tear since July, peaked two weeks ago on a tall inverted hammer and finished last week with a tall red candle.  With declining indicators and no support in sight, there's nothing here to suggest the futures won't go lower still, so +1 bulls.

Market index futures: All three are in the green by about half a percent at 1:40 AM EDT.  ES put in a big hammer two weeks ago and a tall solid green candle last week that cleared resistance at 1214.  There is now no further resistance until 1251.  Its indicators while rising are still not at overbought levels.  I see no reversal signs here, so +1 bulls.

ES daily pivot: Now 1211.25.  We've actually closed above the pivot for the last five weeks running and remain above tonight, so that's +1 bulls.

Dollar index: After two full weeks of indecisive dojis, the dollar took a dive last week on a tall solid red candle.  With its indicators still just coming off overbought and having fallen out of its weekly rising regression trend channel, the dollar still has room to run lower, so +1 bulls.

Oil: After a hammer and a solid green candle, oil is now near both a peak resistance shelf and its 200 week MA, though it still has a bit of room to rise further before it gets to either one, so for tomorrow at least, +1 bulls.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: N/A on a Sunday night, no points.

History: According to The Stock Traders Almanac, the Monday before October expiration is historically positive, so +1 bulls.

     And the winner is...

The bulls, with a shut out for a weekly-basis bull-bear ratio of 7:0.  So without even looking at the daily charts which have not been particularly productive recently, I'm going to call Monday higher.

ES Fantasy Trader

Tonight I finally threw in the towel on my short from last week once again proving why your first loss is your best loss.  I simply got tired of waiting and being wrong.  This loss was an ugly, embarrassing 42.25 points.

Portfolio stats: the account is now $130,500 after 24 trades (17 wins, 7 losses) since inception on 8/18 with $100K. 

BOT    10    ES    false    DEC11 Futures     1227.00    USD    GLOBEX    01:16:23
SLD    10    ES    false    DEC11 Futures     1184.75    USD    GLOBEX    OCT 11 20:16:46 

No trade tonight while I see how my weekly forecast works out.