January 9th, 2012

Golden Crosses are Necessary but Insufficient

An event occurred last week that was pretty much under most investors’ radar screen; it was a Golden Cross in the DJ-30 Index.  If you don’t know what Golden and Black Crosses are, you should take a look at this excellent description from Bloomberg:

The moving averages of the S&P 500 Index haven’t yet formed that Gold Cross and won’t for another 15-20 trading days based on the recent rate at which the 50-dma is ascending.

Having said that, a Golden Cross is a necessary but insufficient market timing indicator.  As I wrote on November 23, 2010 in Listen to One Opinion or the Sound of the Thundering Herd, when some saw the signs that the market was approaching a reversal (John Murphy of StockCharts.com wrote “A decisive close below the 20-day line would signal a deeper correction that could take it down to its 50-day average, recently at 1,164.”):

“…the balance of technical evidence is now weighing more on the side of a breakout on the upside from the 12-month trading range than there is of a new bear market.

I’ve established a new near-term target of 1320 sometime before the beginning of the “sell-in-May” escape. The projection is based on what I perceive to be continually strengthening upside momentum as measured by my moving average-based Market Momentum Meter. While Murphy is looking at 20- and 50-day moving averages, I’m focusing on the fact that the 100-dma is a day or so away from crossing back above the 200-dma.

It may sound insignificant but when that fact is combined with the facts that 1) the 50-dma long ago crossed above the 200-dma (the Golden Cross) and above the 100-dma, 2) each of the three are above the 300-dma, 3) all four moving averages are trending up and, finally, 4) the index itself remains above them all then, historically, this tends to be very bullish. Especially since the market is at the early stage of that alignment.”

Five months later, on April 28, the market was 15.5% higher and closed at 1363, not far from my target set the previous November.

As my subscribers know, the Market Momentum Meter is at an extremely critical juncture in an excruciatingly narrow range just 0.11% away from issuing a Red/Bear and 1.40% away from issuing a Green/Bull signal.

This past October, in A Bull Market Signal? I discussed the Golden Cross and wrote

The problem with the indicator is that it over-prescribes an “all-cash” positions, periods when investors who follow the rule are out of the market when they should actually have been fully invested.

The problem can be remedied by combining the 200-dma rule with another common indicator and moving into an all-cash position only when both selling rules simultaneously proscribe an all-cash, risk-off posture. Only when the signal of one of the rules confirms the other should you actually assume the worst.”

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