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All-time high for Dow Industrials will have to wait

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A light volume trade on Yom Kippur had the Dow Industrials still unable to reach its all-time high set on January 14, 2000 of 11,750.28 as buyers and sellers mulled today's economic data, which presented a mixed picture of the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management said the manufacturing sector grew at its slowest pace in more than a year in September with a reading of 52.9. Economists were forecasting a reading of 53.5 after August's 54.5. Readings above 50.00 signal expansion. So far this year, the index has averaged 55.2.

Additional data had the Commerce Department saying construction spending rose 0.3% in August to $1.2 trillion dollars from July. The rise was slightly above economists' forecast for a 0.4% decline.

The commerce department noted that residential construction fell by 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $617 billion, and marked a fifth consecutive monthly decline and the lowest level of residential construction spending since February 2005.

Non-residential private construction spending jumped 3.5% in August to a record-high rate of $312.1 billion. It was the biggest percentage gain since last September.

Total public construction spending rose 1.1% to an annual rate of $271.6 billion, while federal construction spending fell 4.3% in August, marking the fourth decline in five months.

For the first 8 months of 2006, construction spending totaled $793.2 billion, which is 7.2% above the same period last year.

Both economic reports were released at 10:00 AM EDT, and did find some buying into mid-session, but those gains, or recouping of early morning losses faded late in the afternoon.

The National Association of Realtors said pending sales of U.S. existing homes rose by 4.3% in August, indicating the housing market may be stabilizing.

The pending-sales index rose 9.2% in the West, 4% in the South and 3.6% in the Northeast. The index was flat in the Midwest.

Last week, the real estate group reported that existing-home sales fell 0.5% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.3 million, the lowest since January 2004. Meanwhile, median sales prices eased and fell 1.7% on a year-on-year basis, the first decline in 11 years. The inventory of unsold homes rose to a 7.5-month supply, the most in 13 years.

Just prior to 02:00 PM EDT, a sudden decline was witnessed, where several news items crossed the wires.

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I noted a Dow Jones headline that a militant attack in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta left five soldiers dead and nine missing, where those soldiers had been patrolling in a delta outlet in Nigeria's River state when 70 militants attacked.

However, I also checked to see if there was any type of a rebound in oil prices on the headline and there wasn't.

Several minutes later CNBC aired comments from House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill, regarding sexually suggestive Internet messages allegedly sent by former Rep. Mark Foley to teenage boys who had served as congressional pages.

House Republican leaders were scrambling over the weekend and today to explain what they had known about Mr. Foley and when they knew it.

The page, who was 16 at the time of the e-mail exchange, had told a congressional staffer that an e-mail from Foley requesting a picture had "freaked me out," ABC News reported Thursday.
News reports said the page had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., and that members of the House GOP leadership, including Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, the head of the committee that oversees the House GOP's election effort, had become aware of the 2005 e-mail.

House Speaker Hastert told reporters neither he nor other GOP leaders had seen the Internet messages sent by Mr. Foley in 2003. Had they known, they would have pressed for Foley's expulsion from Congress, Hastert said.

Analysts at Prudential Equity Group said the Foley scandal and developments surrounding the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war could mark the crest of a six-week "mini wave" that had seen an upturn in Republican's election prospects.

U.S. Market Watch - 10/02/06 Close

November Crude Oil (cl06x) settled down $1.88, or 2.99% on Monday, again suggesting to me that market participants may be a little jittery into this fall's election with several Republican's now coming into question regarding the Foley scandal.

CQPolotics.com, a Web site that provides political news and analysis, said Monday that it had changed its rating on Reynolds' race against Democratic businessman Jack Davis to "leans Republican" from "safe Republican."

I'll cover the green, blue and red arrows in the above U.S. Market Watch later in tonight's wrap, as these are sectors than have historically shown bullish trade beginning in October and lasting for several months.

There were some notable stock-oriented news items today that should be touched upon.

Retailing giant Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) $48.44 -1.78% said this weekend that it now predicts same-store sales will rise in a range from 1% to 3% for September, and will report final September sales results on Thursday, along with most other retailers.

Wal-Mart said "Please bear in mind that we are up against strong comparisons in geographic areas affected by last year's hurricane and also in specific categories impacted by hurricane preparation and recovery."

JP Morgan's Charles Grom wrote in a note to clients that "we thought the results would have been better," adding "north of 3%."

Many of the nations retailers are expected to report a pickup in sales for September, which industry analysts citing the recent decline in gasoline prices and cooler temperatures providing a catalyst for consumer's to spend.

The Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 682.77 +1.96% was atop today's narrow list of sector winners and did manage to close above its longer-term 200-day SMA for the first time since mid-May.

Shares of Myogen (NASDAQ:MYOG) $51.44 +46.63% surged after the company said it had agreed to be bought by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) $64.28 -6.52% for $2.5 billion. The move would give Gilead access to Myogen's experimental treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension and some diversification to its current portfolio, which is focused largely on HIV drugs.

Oil service stocks gave back the bulk of last week's gains after OPEC said it currently has no plans to issue an oil market statement. On Friday, OPEC said it was considering a press statement linked to output cuts by some members.

Is the run over? Or is there more to come?

A strong move from the July lows had the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) 1,331.32 -0.33% gaining 5.2% in the third quarter, and the 2.5% gain in September helped.

But if you're like me and browse other economic, or stock market-related journals, you're probably aware that there are at least three differing opinions on where things are going from here.

Lower, range-bound and higher might well be those three opinions.

Any three camps could make a good case, so lets see if we can't place some history on our/your side and begin looking at some historical reasons to be bullish on sectors, if not stocks within sectors.

Because of the stock market crash in October of 1929, then October 1987 and a 554-point drop on October 27, 1997, October is often-thought to be a VERY BEARISH MONTH.

But that's not true!

According to The StockTrader's Almanac, October tends to be a "bear killer," where some historically bullish opportunities present themselves beginning in October and extending into the New Year!

If you think I lost my mind earlier this month, then you perhaps know whom to blame for my measured "bullish insanity."

Yes ... history, and even The StockTrader's Almanac.

"October has killed many a bear. Buy tech stocks and soon wear a grin ear to ear."

That's a quote per The StockTrader's Almanac (hard cover) edition, page 90.

Ah yes! Not EVERY October, or EVERY October of every year has been bullish. If it were that easy, markets would close from May to September of each year, and our lives would be so much easier.

But the setup is there and the broader S&P 500 Bullish % ($BPSPX) that achieved "bull confirmed" status earlier this month (September 13) is a PRIMARY reason in my opinion, that a bullish end of year rally still has room to grow.

And what drives a MARKET like the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) itself? Sectors!

The StockTrader's Almanac reviews years of historical data to alert us of some bullish seasonality for several different sectors, or industry groups.

OK... I was "cheating" a bit several weeks ago when I mentioned financials would be a catalyst sector for gains. As one, make that two of the sectors that tend to show bullish seasonal gains are the broker/dealers and the banks.

Now go back up and look at the U.S. Market Watch. Review the green, blue and red arrows at the 20DayNet%.

Now, I could blindly regurgitate what The Stock Trader's Almanac states as being bullish, throw darts at any of those sectors and say this one is better than that, or buy them all and let the chips fall where they may.

But that's not how I like to operate.

There may be times when the seasonal sector plays just don't have the right setup. More importantly, the MARKET doesn't have the right setup.

In my September 18 Market Wrap, I covered StockCharts.com's S&P 500 Bullish % ($BPSPX) achieving "bull confirmed" status, and just last week the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) did manage to trade multi-year highs.

In essence, the internals have been showing strength as more and more S&P 500 component stocks see reversing higher point and figure buy signals.

Where I want to be looking next isn't just the MARKET (say S&P 500), but I think we should be saying "the market sure seems to be strengthening, and perhaps institutions have been front-running some seasonally bullish tendencies.

If so. It would be helpful to know WHAT sectors tend to trade bullish, but lets not just swallow history, but find out what the MARKET is doing with some of those sectors.

According to The StockTrader's Alamanac, the sectors/industry groups that tend to show bullishness beginning in October are consumer, health providers, health products, drug, telecom, banks, broker/dealer, computer technology, cyclicals, large cap high tech, Internet and transports.

The table below is a Sector Bell Curve from Dorsey/Wright and Associates, where I capture the 09/13/06 date when Dorsey's S&P 500 Bullish % (BPSPX) achieved "bull confirmed" status. Then I show Friday's Bell Curve at its 09/29/06 close.

What I'm doing here, and showing you, is what each sector's internals have been doing from those two dates.

You may look at it and say "there isn't much going on!" That's OK, and things can change fast. But the methodical style of how institutions will build positions and how strength can build further, and last much longer than many envision, is what we're trying to track and build on going forward.

09/13 to 09/19 Sector Bell Curve -

It's difficult to take The StockTrader's Almanac notes of "cyclicals" and put all cyclical stocks in one group. Chemicals, steel, machinery, non ferrous metals could all be grouped as cyclical sectors.

Maybe you've been monitoring the broker/dealer stocks, or the Broker/Dealer Index (XBD.X). It has historically been a bullish sector beginning in early October thru mid-April.

In today's OptionInvestor.com Market Monitor, I showed a similar-as-above Bell Curve, but from July 18, when the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) traded a relative low of 1,237 and then its September 13 bell curve reading like that above.

Due to horizontal limitations, I can't show bell curve here as sectors were "spread out, but WALLstreet (broker/dealers) were in the 44%-46% range. By 09/23 (see above) they had moved up to 68%-72% range. That is, of the many "broker-like" stocks Dorsey Wright tracks, roughly 70% of the stocks in that industry had a point and figure buy signal associated with their chart!

If there were a group that is "in favor" this would be one of the first groups a bull would be looking to buy on pullbacks. Strength tends to lead strength, and often times, should broader market weakness take hold, it is the STRONG sectors that will hold up better than most.

To be truthful, when I look at the CURRENT sector bell curve and action that has taken place since 09/13/06 to 09/29/06, the only sector I'm really "bullish" on, or eager to be adding bullish positions would be the WALLstreet. That is... IF we were to see a broader market pullback.

The BULLISH opportunities can reveal themselves! Especially if we were to see a pullback in the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X). What if one, two, or three of the seasonally bullish sectors marches to the right (builds point and figure buy signals) when the broader market pull back?

That's BULLISH!

Now, with the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) having just broken above its most recent 52-week and multi-year highs, I want to show you a chart of the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) with a different type of retracement.

What is a "next level of resistance" when an index, or security breaks to a multi-year high? Aren't resistance levels supposed to be derived from "old" support levels that were broken?

In last week's Market Monitor, a new reader had some questions as to terminology that Jane Fox and I were using. I often times talk about "pivot levels."

These pivot levels are mathematically derived levels that institutional computers will use as these computers manage stock inventory.

When any security breaks to a 52-week high, I've always assumed that demand is outstripping supply to a level it hasn't been able to in over 52-weeks and that DEMAND is in control.

As a market maker (NASDAQ), or specialist (NYSE), or institutional computer provides liquidity for buyers and sellers he/she/it has to have some type of LEVEL to measure his/her/its risk against.

As inventory is depleted due to a build in demand (more buyers than sellers), then at 52-week, or multi-year highs, you would think that the inventory might need to be replenished.

Let's take a look at the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) and see if we can't identify some levels.

Let's assume that there have been more buyers than sellers since the S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) has just traded a multi-year high.

S&P 500 Index (SPX.X) - Daily Intervals

A trader/investor could use their retracement bracket and keep "dragging it higher." For instance, they could have had the top of their retracement at the prior 52-week high of 1,326.70, but when that was violated to the upside last week, what would they do? Yes! Now they would place it at last week's high of 1,340.

Pivot trading isn't something a trader/investor grasps at first, but it has EVERYTHING to do with how computers manage inventory.

Just like a grocery store. If pork and beans are in demand by consumers and the shelves are empty, the store's inventory computer may order not just 100 cans as it has in month's past, but maybe an additional 50 cans as it senses/measures demand for pork and beans to be building.

The above chart of the SPX.X could also be viewed in such a way. For whatever reason, buyers pushed the S&P 500 (SPX.X) to new multi-year highs.

See that "overlap" of the blue (weekly) and pink (monthly) pivot retracement at 1,322.50? That might be a "coincidence," but it isn't uncommon to see these "overlaps" or correlative levels define a level of formidable support. I would veiw that as a first "good" level to be looking for pullback support.

I marked the September 13 close of 1,318. That just happens to be this week's WEEKLY S1 (weekly support 1). I see that as a "great buy" or second level for a trader that has NOT yet bought into the idea that the SPX can trade higher, to be looking for support. It is a "second chance" at an entry point from where the S&P 500 Bullish % (BPSPX) achieved "bull confirmed" status and would give more upside to last week's highs.

The 1,311 level, again a close "overlap" of WEEKLY/MONTHLY Pivot retracement would be a "best buy" entry point. Perhaps a less aggressive bull sees that as being "even more bullish risk reduced" level as a good entry point.

Do you perhaps see how a SPX bull has an advantage over a bear right now? A bullish trader has levels of support versus just one multi-year high of 1,340 to trade against?

"Financials" have been strong and they carry the greatest weight in this broad index.
 

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