May 24th, 2012

Moving Averages: Trend Inidicator or Resistance/Support Level

There are almost many discussions in technical analysis circles as to whether moving averages are predictive and form resistance and support levels or whether they instead exclusively depict historical information (like, the average price of a stock over the past 200 trading days) and indicate trends (like, the average price over the prior 200 days continues to improve).  I’m not going to take either side other than to say you can’t use one to the exclusion of the other.  What I can say is that the 200- and 300-dma’s have performed extremely well as support over the past week (click on image to enlarge):

It could purely be happenstance or it could be that the close proximity of the two moving averages intensifies their support support capabilities or it might just be that a few more trading days will see the Index cross both moving averages indicating a dramatic deterioration in the market’s health and future prospects but for the time being it does break some temporary comfort and relief to those of us who are of the “technical persuasion”.

Where to from here?  Your guess is as good as mine.  But what I do say is that I’m relieved that I have a discipline that insulates me from all the speculation we’re bombarded with daily in the business media by neutralizing the day-to-day volatility and helps me focus on the longer term picture.  My Market Momentum Meter distills the market’s trend over a number of time horizons and translates the analysis into a single number which, when compared to experience over nearly 50 years of market data, indicates what market tactic (all cash or fully invested) which will like generate the best likely outcome.

My Market Momentum Meter is at the borderline and may soon suggest a more conservative, risk-off approach but for the time being it still indicates that the market’s longer-term trend continues to be “provisionally, moderately bullish”.


Technorati Tags: , ,

February 14th, 2012

Is the Market Overvalued and Overbought?

I was struck by a post on Slope of Hope entitled “An Ongoing Balloon Ride” the major premise of which was that the the market has risen too far and diverged too far from its 400-dma such that there’s no questions “if this debt-filled balloon will disintegrate, but when“.  The writer’s premise is that the several times in the past when the Index has diverged as far as it has from its 400-dma have all been followed by a drop or correction.

I have my own database and decided to do my own research and gather my own facts to see whether I could replicate those results and come to the same conclusions.  My database goes back to 1963 and the moving average I rely on is the 300- rather than the 400-dma (but what difference does a hundred days make between friends).  The Slope writer visually picked the areas when the index diverged significantly from the moving average and eyeballed the subsequent change.  What I discovered was:

The S&P 500 Index is currently 6.38% above the 300-dma.  In the 12,089 trading days between March 12, 1963 and March 11, 2011, a spread between the index and the 300-dma of 5.00-7.99% occurred on one out of every 6 days, or 16.89% of the time.  One could almost say that this spread is “typical”, not large or overbought or stratospheric.  Actually,  it’s fairly typical.

One can look at both tails of the distribution as indications of how extreme the spread defining overbought or oversold situations, times when one needs to sell or has a true opportunity to buy.  In 2008 and 2009, at the depths of the Financial Crisis Crash, the market was over 35% below the 300-dma …. we should have all bought then but few had the nerve.  In August, 1987, the market was 24% above the 300-dma; a few months later, the market suffered it’s largest single daily decline in the October Crash …. we should have sold.

The market was more than 20% above the 300-dma also in 1983 as the market rocketed in celebration of its exit from the secular bear market of the 1970’s.  Rather than crashing, the market went into a horizontal consolidation lasting 15 months (just like the past 15 months?  I’ll leave that determination for you to make.)

So is the market now overbought?  Not if you use the 300-dma as a benchmark.  Did the Slope of Hope contributor select a seldom used 400-dma benchmark to prove his point?  It’s possible.  Where would the market have to be for it be overextended or overbought by these measures?  Somewhere around 1500-1550 …. interestingly, exactly the level of the market’s all-time high as measured by the S&P 500.

Technorati Tags: ,

January 25th, 2012

“The Great Convergence”

In last week’s Recap Report recently sent to subscribers, I wrote and included the following chart:

“….. at the risk of being labelled melodramatic …. I see “The Great Convergence” coming to a head and finally getting resolved with the 18-month struggle between bulls and bears with (I hope it’s not just wishful thinking but an actuality) the bulls finally gaining the upper hand and finally being able to break into new higher ground.”

After today’s close and after closing higher for 20 of the last 23 trading days, the market is now up 10.01% since December 19.  Even more important is to note that today’s close was at 1326.06, almost exactly the level many chartists have touted as the breakout point that confirms an exit from this summer’s bear market and the continuation of last year’s bull market run off the lows.

It should also be noted that it’s almost exactly where the descending trendline connecting the 2007 and 2011 peaks is today.  However, rather than thinking in terms of points (e.g., 1325 or 1326) we need to think of a zone.  Every single trader doesn’t simultaneously decide to buy or sell which in turn causes a reversal at a single point.  Furthermore, the Index is composed of 500 different stocks in every economic sector and each of these stocks will have their own underlying market dynamics.  Market psychology does change when the market hits various levels but a change of psychology happens over time.

What the above chart indicates is a change in market psychology that’s been on-going since the bottom of the Financial Crisis Crash (see “Revisiting Housing and Banking With a New Ending” of a few days ago).  The ascending trendline since the bottom (higher lows) and the descending trendline from the pre-crash peak (lower highs) results in this “Great Convergence”.  The best momentum indicator (in my book) of moving averages across multiple time horizons are turning constructive adding to the conviction that a clear-cut signal to put, as they say in Wall Street, “risk back on”.

I believe there needs to be a 4-6% consolidation of this 10%, 23-day run and we’re going to look at it as a buying opportunity.  But if the market continues to zoom ahead another 2-3% without that correction, then it’s “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Technorati Tags: , ,