By 9:30 this morning, twenty percent of Dow stocks had reached 52-week highs. Those six Dow stocks had been joined by 515 other stocks making new 52-week highs. Zero new 52-week lows had been produced on either the NYSE or the Nasdaq. By the end of the day, 796 NYSE and Nasdaq stocks had hit 52-week highs, while only 7 had slumped to 52-week lows. Advancing/declining and up/down volume ratios showed strong numbers but had eased somewhat from their feverish levels earlier in the day, when the Nasdaq saw up volume that measured 16 times down volume.
The reasons behind the strong open proved so numerous that I'll probably miss one or two. Stock fever began rising as the Asian markets opened. After the Nikkei's biggest one-day loss ever on Friday, the Nikkei rebounded 120.28 points. A study of the Nikkei's daily chart showed that Friday's decline had stopped at 9600.96, just above the key 9600 support level. Tech stocks gained in Asia and in Europe. Perhaps stock fever, or tech fever at least, had begun even before Asian markets opened, when Barron's spoke positively of Sony's prospects this weekend. Smith Barney upgraded European semiconductors to marketweight from underweight, adding its improved outlook on semiconductors to Merrill Lynch's upgrade of INTC. The CA World 2003 Semicon West conference began today, and CNBC mentioned positive buzz about increasing demand from the customers of the semiconductor equipment group.
Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C) reported earnings that cheered investors, and C followed by saying that the company would increase its quarterly dividend to $0.35/share. CIBC upgraded Merck (MRK) to sector perform from sector underperform, pepping up another sector. Bear Stearns added to the fever pitch by upgrading Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to outperform from peer perform.
Numerous companies also added to the excitement by announcing M&A activity. Boise Cascade (BCC) announced a surprising decision to buy OfficeMax (OMX), the third-largest retail office supply chain store in the U.S., for a 25 percent premium over Friday's closing price. BCC said the acquisition would add $0.15-.30 before costs to 2004 earnings, but with costs factored in, the impact on earnings would be neutral for 2004. Market pundits weren't surprised by the news that Yahoo (YHOO) would buy Overture (OVER), however, as rumors of YHOO's purchase of OVER had been circulating for months. YHOO's stock-and-cash deal offered a 13 percent premium over OVER's Friday close.
As the day progressed, the fever pitch of news continued. On Friday, Cigna (CI) had attempted to dose the stock fever with a little sobering reality, warning that it would miss profit expectations for 2003 and for the current quarter. Today a spokesperson blamed medical inflation. Later in the afternoon, Bob Pisani of CNBC posted a chart of CI put activity over last week, pointing out the unusual put-buying activity as last week progressed and raising the specter of insider trading.
If the markets paid attention to negative news, they punished only the stocks in question. YHOO lagged and so did CI. Boeing (BA) and Continental Airlines (CAL) sank after CAL announced that it would be postponing delivery of 36 Boeing 737's. While these individual stocks sank, the indices held support. Stocks had zoomed up in the morning, but the tight ranges above support put traders to sleep until 3:00 ET.
At 3:00 ET, markets dived so quickly that traders awaiting bearish entries missed their opportunities unless they had orders waiting. Reportedly in yet another snafu related to electronic trading at the Chicago Mercantile, an erroneous e-mini sell order was entered, resulting in the quick drop. Just as happened with the erroneous electronic order with the YM contract on July 3, markets attempted a recovery but were unable to recover prior levels and closed near the lows of the day.
SPX Five-Minute Chart:
The quick drop obviously dampened bullish sentiment. That's evidenced on this five minute chart by the bear-flag formation that set up after the first five-minute drop and then the fall out of that bear flag. A quick pop pushed the SPX higher into the close, but that pop could be setting up another potential bear flag.
SPX 60-minute chart:
A study of this chart shows that the SPX dropped to the steepest of its ascending trendlines and bounced. A further study shows that stochastics and RSI turned down, while hourly ADX shows a near bearish cross of the -DI by the +DI. Near crosses don't count, however, and we must wait for confirmation. Still, the oscillators and ADX hint at further testing of that steepest trendline if not a fall through that level. A fall through 1000 predicts a try for 990, the site of the lower of the two ascending trendlines.
The SPX daily chart shows a market that's still range-bound, as predicted by the modest 17.91 ADX level and the flat MACD.
Daily Chart of the SPX:
Although today's 1015.41 high matched the June 17 1015.33 high, presenting the possibility that the SPX will form a double top, double top formations require a confirming fall through the trough between the two tops. That's a long way away for the SPX. In the meantime, however, today's long upper shadow pierced the descending trendline, but the candle's body fell below the trendline. The candle's small real body rests at the bottom of the day's range. That's a bearish candle formation when it comes after an ascent, but it can be argued that the SPX is not ascending, but instead is consolidating. Because that candle's implications are not as bearish when it occurs during consolidation, it perhaps predicts only a continuation of the range-bound trading or consolidation.
Consolidation could mean further testing of the upper trendline or a return to next support. RSI currently challenges the top of its ascending trendline, and watching RSI behavior around its own trendline can confirm or perhaps predict the SPX behavior. An RSI push up through that trendline could mean further testing of upside resistance, while a rollover could mean a test of support.
If the descending trendline holds as resistance, the SPX could be setting up a bearish right triangle with a flat bottom near 972-975. I mentioned this possibility this weekend and today's equal high doesn't negate the possibility since the candle's body formed back under the trendline. In addition to the 1000 and 990 support shown on the hourly chart, 984 might be considered support. Historical support can also be found at that 972-975 zone. The 959-962 level represents the 25 percent retracement of the rally, but also now represents the confirmation level for the potential double-top formation.
To sum up the varied evidence, the retreat from resistance, the descending hourly oscillators, the low daily ADX, and the flat daily MACD point to consolidation, perhaps in the form of a retreat down to next support or in a rise to test today's resistance. They do not as yet predict either a steep climb or a steep descent, although that could change as a result of economic numbers and earnings releases that continue to impact the market this week. This weekend's wrap detailed multiple layers of overhead resistance, including 1010 and 1015, near the June high. Above that is the resistance implied by the midline of the rising regression channel, somewhere between 1023 and 1027 depending on how quickly the SPX should rise, and then further resistance near 1045-1050.
As is often true, the OEX daily chart shows many of the same formations.
Daily Chart of the OEX:
MACD remains flat on the OEX daily chart as it does on the SPX chart. CCI remains green on this chart, but squiggles around the flatline, not giving a clear signal. RSI squiggles around 50, also not giving a clear signal, and there's no clear-cut descending trendline on this RSI that we can watch for further information. The prediction remains the same for the OEX, however: consolidation for now within a top described by the descending trendline and either 500, 498, 491, or 485 support. Beyond that and the economic reports due over the next several days, it's difficult to predict further action.
The DJI played catch-up with the other indices today. Last week, it closed beneath its 21-dma, unlike the S&P's and the tech-related indices. Today the DJI gapped above its 21-dma and closed above it, although the daily DJI candle showed the same bearish configuration and the same retreat from the descending trendline. Unlike the S&P's, though, the DJI did not approach its previous high, and so has not yet set up the possibility of a double-top formation. The potential of a bearish right triangle remains, however.
Daily Chart of the DJX, as a proxy for DJI:
The DJI shows one difference from that of the two S&P's. I've included 5(3)3 stochastics on this DJX chart to show how near they are to making a bullish kiss in mid-fall. Although the OEX 5(3)3 stochastics also show a slight upturn, the DJI is nearer than the two S&P's to displaying a bullish kiss. This evidence is tentative as yet as stochastics often redraw themselves in a maddening manner, but it offers a first hint that the DJI could attempt another test of its descending trendline. The upturned RSI does the same and is more trustworthy, so watch for an upside break of the RSI descending trendline or a rollover beneath it.
I included possible support and resistance levels for the DJI this weekend. A recap should mention new possible support at the 21-dma at 91.36, backing up historical support at 91.50. As I mentioned this weekend, support might be found in 50-point increments down to 8950. The 25 percent rally retracement lies at 8880, some support exists between 8710-8740, and the 38.2 percent retracement and 200-ema lie between 86.20 and 86.60.
In this weekend's wrap, I mentioned that an upside break of 9200 would see next resistance at last week's 9260 level, but today's high was 9278, overshooting that 9260 level. Next levels of resistance might be found at 9300, 9350, and 9400.
Unlike the DJX and the two S&P's, the ADX level on the NDX remains above 30, indicating a trending market. The buying pressure line (orange) has turned down, possibly indicating an imminent change. That change has not arrived, however, and it's dangerous to anticipate signals. In late June, +DI also declined, bringing ADX down with it, but there was never a bearish cross of the lines and ADX flattened. It has not, however, risen again as the NDX broke out of its bull flag to the upside, so this does bear watching.
Daily chart of the NDX:
The NDX could not maintain 1300. I haven't included the 60-minute chart, but it shows the NDX falling at the end of the day to plumb its opening gap but then pushing above that gap at the close. Hourly ADX has declined below 30, with +DI and -DI approaching a bearish cross but not yet having completed that cross.
As was true this weekend, NDX direction proves difficult to predict. Daily RSI and MACD point to the possibility that the NDX still has more upside, or at least more time to spend testing the current highs. Tech fever has been strong. With INTC reporting tomorrow, that fever may be tempered or else reach malarial levels.
INTC reports tomorrow after the close, and it will be joined by MOT, PHTN, RFMD, and TER along with a myriad of other stocks reporting before the open and after the close. The SEMICON West conference continues. Before the bell, the July NY Empire Manufacturing Index will be released at 8:00 and June retail sales will be released at 8:30. As I mentioned this weekend, the biggest impact on the markets may be the Greenspan testimony on monetary policy before the House. That testimony begins at 10:00 ET. Nothing I see on the charts can predict how markets might react if Greenspan says something that either cools that stock fever or sends it to malarial levels. Be careful.