The 10,000 Bounce

"Just when you think you have the key to the market, someone changes the locks."

So Dow 10,000 held.  This number means so much to people that had it simply given way quickly, we probably would have been hit with a climactic sell-off that would have ended the decline.  But we did not.  The Dow had fallen from 10,507.97 to 10012.36 in only 6 days.  Does a 200 point rally nullify a 500 point decline?  Is this a bottom? 

To me, little has changed. The market is still in a down trend.  The Dow would have to close 300 points higher for me to start to consider the bull case. Yes, even in spite of Yahoo and Google, the exceptions that prove the rule. I did not stop out of MHS, my lone holding, today.  The  new high index I described yesterday climbed from 12 to 28, still a paltry number of stocks that traded at new highs 10 days ago and closed higher today than 10 days ago.  After earnings season is over there will likely be a lull during which traders will focus again on inflation, recession, deficits and the Fed.

I have been using the term bear market–and this habit is dangerous.  It is much safer to say that the market is in a down trend.  Once I choose to use terms like bull or bear market it influences my judgment and it leads to predictions.  For example, if one labels the market as a bear it implies that it should last a certain amount of time that bear markets typically last and end in a certain way.  One tends to marry a scenario.  I may hang onto this scenario in order to be right (ego again).  Ever get so attached to a story  that you can’t observe what is actually happening?  It happens all of the time in the market.  People say things like, we should have a consolidation period followed by a rise or fall,or the market needs to rest.  The talking heads do this every day when they pontificate about what should unfold.  (So did I, when I said above that the market will enter a lull post-earnings.)

But I try not to predict.  I analyze the current market trend.  Are we rising, declining or stable or is it impossible to discern.    Right now, I believe  the trend is still down.   I never know how long the trend will last.  When my rules and indicators suggest a turn, I can turn on a dime and slowly wade back into the market on the long side. There is plenty of time to catch the real rockets after they have left the launch pad.  More on strategy this weekend.

Please continue to send me your questions and comments.  I value your support.

STOP THIS MADNESS

I exited the market in the fall of 2000.  I became incensed  as the NASDAQ was falling over the next 2 years and the media pundits were telling  us to buy and hold and to go after the bargains.  Day after day they were wrong and yet people continued to listen to them.  I remember one adviser who recommended Exodus Communications when it was down to 65 from the 80’s, and continued  praising its virtues all the way down until the company was finally de-listed.  And yet this person had the nerve to come back each week and opine on the market and to offer his picks.  The tragedy was that many persons lost their savings and their plans for early retirement. 

So has anything changed since then?  Today, in spite of the strong downtrend in the general market, the media gurus of the day are looking for safe stocks to buy–the few defensive stocks that will hold up.  Maybe they would lose their audience if they came out and told people to sell their stocks and stay in cash, never mind sell short.  They just keep telling us to look for the safe stocks–the needle in the haystack. But the bear devours everything before it is through.  Why do they insist on fighting the trend?  I certainly will not–the decline continues.  Over the years I have noticed that the market seers do not declare a bull or bear market until about 6 months after it has begun.  The NASDAQ topped out in January and the DOW in March.  When will we hear the first declaration of a bear market from the talking heads?  Stop this Madness.

My short positions made money today.  The housing stocks continue to crack.  This is probably just the beginning.  My lone long, MHS, did not hold up well today.  I may be stopped out tomorrow.  Over and over, I learn that to fight the trend is folly.  Don’t buy stocks now–any stocks.  I am mainly short and in cash.  Nothing feels better than to be in synch with the trend.

My primary trading strategy is to buy growth stocks trading at or near new highs.  I rode Yahoo up 100 points on two occasions and sold out above 400.  I buy high and sell higher.  But a hard lesson to learn is that the strategy that does beautifully in a bull market fails miserably in a bear market.  (Check out the book by Nicolas Darvas, How I made………, for a nice description of this phenomenon.) A good indication that things are souring is when the types of trades I have been profiting from suddenly produce a string of losses.

There are several other indicators that tell me when my growth stock strategy is unlikely to work.  First of all, if there are not at least 100 stocks on the NYSE or NASDAQ that are making new 52 week highs, the market is not strong enough.  These days, new lows are more common than new highs–a very bad sign.  Second, IBD (Investor’s Business Daily) publishes a chart each day of  the IBD mutual fund index.  This index tracks the performance of 23 growth mutual funds.  I have found that if this index is below its 50 day moving average, then I cannot make money trading growth stocks.  In other words, if the pros running these funds cannot make money I will not.  These managers are the ones who drive these growth stocks higher with their huge resources.  Currently, the IBD index is below its 50 day average and even in jeopardy of penetrating its 200 day average.  (The 50 day moving average is simply the average of all closing prices during the past 50 days.  It changes or moves each day as a new close is added and the oldest close is dropped.)  As of Wednesday, the index was down 6.15% for the year. In this climate do we really want to risk our money buying growth stocks?

I have also used TC2005 (go to Worden.com to learn about this impressive charting program) to compute a new index of the strength of stocks that are hitting new  highs.  I scan each of the 4,000 stocks in my stock universe (active stocks trading above $5) and count the number of stocks that hit a new 52 week high 10 days ago that have closed today higher than they closed 10 days ago when they hit the new high.  If stocks that hit new highs cannot continue rising, the future for new highs is bleak.  When I first computed this index in March, I found that over 100 stocks met these criteria.  Today, there were only 12 stocks out of 4,000 that hit a new high 10 days ago and closed higher today than 10 days ago.  With odds of 12/4000, why would anyone seek to buy stocks that are hitting new highs with the expectation of seeing them climb higher? I will continue to compute this index and report on any significant changes.

Before I close, let me share with you my thoughts about another ploy for scaring people from getting out of the market.  Ever read those analyses that say that if you were out of the market during the "X"  days of biggest gains, you would have missed most of the bull market move.  I think most people accept this logic at face value.  But I think it is absurd.  For example, say the market climbs 100 points in one day and you were out of the market.  The market could decline and retrace much of that move  on the subsequent days or weeks, when you could have bought in.  You did not necessarily lose the full 100 points.  Furthermore, given that we cannot predict the market’s daily moves, who in  the world would be so unlucky so as to miss all or most of the days of big moves?  I stay out of the market during times like these or go short.  There is always time to catch a genuine bull move.  Am I missing something here?

Send me your comments and questions.