They say (ever wonder who "they" are?) it's a good time to be brave and start buying stocks when everyone else is puking their stocks (to use the stock market vernacular) and blood is running in the streets. I could be wrong but the streets are looking pretty red about now. Feeling brave? Well, there's brave and there's bravado. When I was flying in the Navy I was told of the saying (usually along with a picture of an airplane stuck in a tree), "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots." One could use the same sentence and replace "traders" for "pilots".
This is one wicked market and it's clearly got people running very scared right now. Emotions are running very high and price swings of 400-500 DOW points, and more, are becoming almost common place right now. The VIX is finally registering real fear:
Volatility Index, VIX, Monthly chart
I had to go to a monthly chart to find the previous high that has not been exceeded and it was back in 1998 during the LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) hedge fund blow-up and the ensuing financial crisis. It's amazing how a relatively few fund managers can really screw things up. The problem now is that it's not one fund blowing up, it's thousands. And it's not just taking down a few banks, it's taking down the global banking system. It's truly frightening what's happening in our financial markets these days. When I started warning over a year ago that the credit market would collapse at a mind-numbingly fast speed, and therefore was ready for this, I must admit that I sit here in shock and awe how quickly things are unraveling.
At any rate, VIX has shot up to almost the 1998 level and I fully expect to see that level of 60.63 well exceeded. We've got a long way to go before we finish October but it will be interesting to see where the month closes. The closing high in August 1998 was 48.33 and in September 2002 is closed at 44.57 (the high in September 2001 was 57.31 and in July 2002 the high was 56.74). The high so far this month is 58.24, recorded yesterday. Today the market dropped to a new low but I guess as long as the DOW doesn't lose 800 points in a day ("only" dropped 508 points) it's not as frightening.
I learned a little tidbit at the end of the day that's worth mentioning (I like numbers and am fascinated by where and how we find them correlating). The DOW lost 508.32 points on Black Monday back in October 1987. Today's decline was 508.39. Back then it was a -22% decline whereas today it was at -5% decline. Just for reference, a -22% decline from last Wednesday's high at DOW 10831 (October 1st, following the strong rally last Tuesday on hopes the bailout would somehow be good for the market) would be a loss of 2383 points and drop the DOW down to 8448. Just another 1000 points to go...
The financial difficulties we find ourselves in are very much a global problem now. The currency markets are reflecting the seismic shift in the markets and people are scrambling to get out of positions. The euro is collapsing against the yen as people scramble to get out of their yen-carry trades, selling euro-denominated assets and buying back the borrowed yen. In the weekend newsletter I had mentioned that there's no place to hide--all asset classes are deflating and deflating rapidly now.
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Deflation is to be expected in a credit collapse. When credit is created it's created out of nothing. The Fed creates money out of nothing (which is why it's called fiat money instead of gold-backed or silver-backed) and then they give it to the banks for insertion into the monetary system. The banks have been required to hold less than 10% on the books and can lend out the rest. Each bank they lend it to does the same thing and pretty soon the Fed money that was created from electrons has created an enormous increase in money that isn't real. It's credit and credit is not money and has no value. The only way it has value is if more and more is created behind it. Sounds like a Ponzi scheme if you ask me. So when the credit market collapses all that created money gets sucked up back into electron-land. It's not anywhere. It's not sitting in someone's account waiting to be invested, it's gone, poof!
So the collapsing credit market takes everything of value, which was created by demand from too much money being created from nothing (credit) and squashes it back down. The Fed is furiously pumping liquidity back into the market, as are all Central Banks now, and trying all kinds of creative ways to do so (including now buying unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper). But the collapse of the credit market is like a black hole and it just siphons out money, never to be seen again. People are selling whatever assets they have to raise capital and that depresses the value of just about all asset classes.
Many bearish hedge funds aren't even making money this year because they've been playing the pair trade of shorting the financials (until Cox slapped their hands for playing that game) and going long the commodities. In previous times when the stock market sank it was a good time to get into commodities. Gold bulls talk about this all the time. But this time it's different and it's because we have the super-sized credit expansion over the past decade being followed by a super-sized credit contraction. The last time it was this bad was following the huge credit expansion of the 1920s (but this time we dwarfed that credit expansion period). What will follow will unfortunately be very similar. It's why I've been saying we'll be dealing with a bad case of deflation very shortly. The fast drop in commodity prices was the last bubble to be pricked.
I want to stick primarily with weekly charts tonight because frankly we've got so many near-term support levels giving way. We need to look back into 1998-2004 to see where price-level support is located. I'll also point out some Fib levels of interest and then at the end of the newsletter I'll briefly touch on the Gann Square of Nine chart because it also does a good job at identify important price levels.
S&P 500, SPX, Weekly chart
SPX broke below 1000 which is an important number. It's only a minor break so far but it has broken below its long-term uptrend line from 1990 through the 2002 low and as I'll point out on the Gann chart at the end of the newsletter, 1005 is also an important level. The week's closing price is the important close so we'll have to see how it does by Friday.
S&P 500, SPX, Daily chart
I've pointed out the importance of the break below both parallel down-channels, from October 2007 and the other from the high in May. When price breaks out of a channel, either out the top of an up-channel or below the bottom of a down-channel, it is almost always followed by an acceleration of the trend, down in this case. The decline from May is following a waterfall declining pattern and that portends a lot more selling to come.
But nothing goes in a straight line and the market should get some decent size bounces on its way down. So we look for support and places to try a long play if you dare (it's way too early to be thinking about picking a bottom) or at least support levels to take profits if you're playing the short side. There's a short term Fib extension of the previous bounce located at 990, a Fib projection at 974 (based on 2nd leg of the move down from August being 162% of the 1st leg down) and then a lower Fib projection at 925 (2nd leg equal to 162% of the 1st leg down from May). As I'll show on the Gann chart later, 974 is also an important level on that chart.
Key Levels for SPX:
S&P 500, SPX, 60-min chart
I had mentioned in the weekend newsletter that the market was set up for a crash and it appears to be in progress. With the Fed, Treasury, Tom, Dick, Larry, Moe and Curly doing everything they can to plug the dike's leaks, the decline is being held back but clearly there are systemic problems that the market is just now starting to grasp (it's why the 3rd wave down is so strong and is called the "recognition" wave). I'm showing a stair-stepping lower as it "unwinds" the EW count and completes more the smaller 3rd waves that will ultimately complete the 3rd wave in the move down from October. It's got many more to go and I'm only showing a partial count here.
The challenge, for traders, is figuring out when we can expect a bigger bounce and therefore when it's prudent for short players to hold for more downside and when it's better to take your money off the table and not let the market rally against you. I have not recommended long plays for a while now and I continue to recommend you shy away from counter-trend long plays right now. If you're an experienced day trader then you already know what you're doing (right?) but if you can't stay glued to the screen to watch the progress of a bounce I think it's too risk to by looking at doing any buying. Let this market puke its insides out and then step back in and look for the babies thrown out with the bath water.
Dow Industrials, INDU, Weekly chart
On the DOW's weekly chart I'm showing there's a decent chance we could see the market find its footing for at least a bounce (pink) or consolidation (dark red) as the DOW has reached its long-term uptrend line from the 1974, 1990 and 2002 lows. To say this uptrend line is an important one is a gross understatement. Cracking it would declare the 1982-2000 bull market officially over. Slightly lower, near 9130, is the uptrend line from 1982 and then a Fib projection at 9001 followed by a Fib projection at 8131. I have no doubt whatsoever that the lower level will be broken. The only question is how quickly.
Key Levels for DOW:
Nasdaq-100, NDX, Weekly chart
The NDX weekly chart shows the break below channel and Fib support near 1485. The next potential support level is the 2004 level near 1302 and then a Fib projection at 1132 (2nd leg equals 162% of the 1st leg down from October 2007).
Key Levels for NDX:
Nasdaq vs. S&P 500 Relative Strength, Weekly chart
After leading the market to the downside from 2000 to 2002 the Nasdaq started leading the market back to the upside (the "price" moving up says the Nasdaq is outperforming to the upside). But the sideways triangle pattern is very telling and the fact that it completed the required a-b-c-d-e pattern with a typical slight throw-over in August 2008 says it did a classic pattern and finish. If this were a stock I'd be all over this and short in a big way. This is a highly reliable pattern and says the tech stocks will be weaker than SPX well into 2009. It doesn't mean they both can't rally but if they do rally then tech stocks will be weaker than the broader market. Use this kind of study in helping you determine which sector you want to get into, or out of, when you're ready to play the bigger swings in the market or certain sectors.
An example would be to look at a RS chart of the commodity related stock index (CRX) vs. SPX and you will see it peaked in June of this year. It's been on a crash course since and it's telling you that commodities, those stocks that everyone was hyping earlier this year, are outpacing the broader market to the downside right now. Same for the emerging market index. It's a very good tool to use.
Russell-2000, RUT, Weekly chart
The RUT's weekly chart shows it has broken below the bottom of its parallel down-channel from last October but is nearing potential Fib support at 551 (two equal legs down from October. If it does find support there it would only be good for a small bounce (pink) because the EW count is not finished. It needs a 4th and 5th wave to go before it will find a more meaningful low. As shown, the next lower Fib projection is down to 419.
Key Levels for RUT:
NYSE, NYA, Weekly chart
The weekly NYSE chart shows a waterfall decline and what typically happens if price falls out the bottom of a parallel down-channel. It has now broken below the bottom of a steeper down-channel and sliced right through its 50% retracement of the 2002-2007 rally (after a quick bounce off it on the September 18-19 rally) and today it dropped below the 62% retracement at 6544. This is one weak market.
Banking index, BIX, Daily chart
I'm sticking with the daily chart of the BIX because it's actually holding up better than the rest of the market at the moment. This is to be expected--it will bottom first and even start rallying before the broader market. But it too should have some work to do on the downside before finding its bottom.
It's the same with the brokerage index--it's got lower to go but it's proceeding lower in a more orderly fashion, if that's possible:
Broker index, Daily chart
I'm looking for XBD to drop to the bottom of its down-channel before another significant bounce.
U.S. Home Construction Index, DJUSHB, Weekly chart
Back to a weekly chart to show where the home builder index has been and where it could be headed. I think this index is very close to finishing its decline. Look how well it's holding up compared to the carnage around it. There's just not much more to sell. I think we'll see it slightly undercut its 2001 low (taking it nearly back to its origin of 125 in 2000). I could be fooled by more weakness than that but it's just not a sector that interests me and I'll probably stop covering it soon (post it if something different happens). It's dead money.
Transportation Index, TRAN, Daily chart
The weekly chart of the transports shows some real damage occurring. The break of the year's low, and the 2006 low, now has the average heading for the 1999 and 2005 highs near 3800. That should certainly be good for at least a bounce, one that could take it back up to the 4300-4400 area and play out for at least a month.
U.S. Dollar, DXY, Daily chart
My US dollar chart is missing data from October 1st through the 6th but has a print today at 81.521. The Fib projection at 81.74 be capping this move up and the wave count looks good for completion of the 5-wave move from March (with confirming negative divergence between the 3rd and 5th waves). We should see a multi-month pullback in the dollar before it rallies strongly next year.
Oil Fund, USO, Daily chart
USO could still find support just under $70 but if it doesn't I think it will drop below $60 and then stair-step lower from there. Demand destruction (along with credit) is deflating the price of most commodities, especially ones that are industrial related.
Instead of just showing the chart for oil stocks I'm going to start showing the chart for the commodities related index:
Commodities Index, CRX, Weekly chart
As I had mentioned over the weekend, the breaking of multiple uptrend lines tells us emphatically that the 2003-2008 rally has finished. It has retraced nearly two thirds of that 5-year rally in 3 months. That's a crash. The 2006 lows and the 62% retracement, both near 517, could be good for at least a bounce.
Gold Fund, GLD, Daily chart
Gold as a commodity is under intense selling pressure. Gold as a safe-haven hedge is under accumulation (and being sent off to Swiss banks). I could argue equally strongly at this point for a continued selloff or a rally to new highs. No new trade recommendations here but a break of either September's high of October's low should be a heads up for a trade in that direction.
Economic reports, summary and Key Trading Levels
Economic reports will not have much of an impact this week. Tomorrow's reports include pending home sales and crude inventories.
Before finishing I wanted to just quickly review a tool that some use. A Gann Square of Nine chart is basically a spiral that starts with 1 in the center and then spirals out from there, as far as you care to go. I built one in a spreadsheet and you can't read anything on the chart below because I had to squish it to fit here but it looks like this:
Gann Square of Nine chart
The circle is divided up into 5-degree sections so as to be able to identify where in the circle you are. Along the outside of the circle are written the days of the year (slightly off because there are 365 days but only 360 degrees in a circle). The purpose of the chart is to identify numbers that are on the same degree vector (or 90, 180 or 270 degrees away) but at a different level of the spiral. A number is said to be squared to another if it's along the same vector.
Looking at just the top left section shows the 2002 low for SPX at 768 and 2007 high at 1576. Notice that they are on the same degree but 6 levels apart:
Gann Square of Nine chart, partial with SPX 768 and 1576
One of the reasons I was pounding the table back in October 2007 that the market was topping, and that it was time to get out of your stock holdings (because of the expectation for a very nasty bear market decline to follow), was because of this Gann chart (in addition to price hitting the top of its up-channel with bearish divergence and was hitting both a Fib time and price window).
It was even more significant because it was related to 540 degrees (which relates to a cube with 6 faces and 6 times 90 degrees equals 540 degrees) since 1576 is 6 levels from 768, or 4 times 1-1/2 times (540 degrees) around the circle. Sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook but it's also related to Fibonacci and the natural order of the universe. It measures synchronicity which affects us (solar and lunar cycles, etc.). Anyway, it works.
So yesterday on the Market Monitor I was calling for potential support at 1005 because it squares out to the 768 and 1576 level. Yesterday's low was 1008 so close enough. But today that level broke. It may hold on a weekly closing basis so we'll have to wait and see what happens by Friday but using this chart to find the next potential support level I go 90 degrees around and find what number we come up with:
Gann Square of Nine chart, 90 degrees from 1005
I highlighted 973 which is 90 degrees from 1005. If you go back and look at the daily SPX chart near the top of the newsletter you'll see that there's a Fib projection at 974 where the 2nd leg of the move down from August will equal 162% of the 1st leg. That's pretty good correlation and that's a long-winded way of saying I think we'll find support at that level should it drop to there tomorrow, or whenever (we might get another bounce first before heading down to that level. I'll be watching carefully to see if a counter-trend long play is warranted or not.
This is one tough market so continue to exercise much greater care than you normally would. Good luck and I'll be back with you on Thursday and try to set up the final day of a wild week.
Key Levels for SPX:
Key Levels for DOW:
Key Levels for NDX:
Key Levels for RUT:
CBOE Equity Volume Put/Call ratio usually provides short term long and short signals when it breaks above 1.0 and below 0.50, respectively. I prefer to use the moving averages to reflect on the overall state of investors emotions. Peaks in investor bearishness are generally reached when the 10 day moving average (DMA) breaks above 0.80. While peaks in investor bullishness are generally reached when the 10 DMA breaks below 0.65. If you have been watching the news lately, you know that the commentators are discussing the current volatility and the level option volume. For instance, there were 28 million option contracts traded on Monday and 17 million on Tuesday versus an average of 14 million per day. There was recent discussion on the affects of the short sale ban on option market makers inability to properly hedge their positions. Basically, the markets are a mess and need to be fixed once and for all.
In last weeks newsletter I mentioned that the 10 day moving average of the Put/Call ratio has been giving mixed signals. However, the 20 day moving average had maintained its relative Negative bias as it continued to move upward. The 20 DMA ticked lower today to 0.816 but that isnt quite the move that would signal a Positive bias. The sharp decline in the 10 DMA from 9/17 provided a timely Positive signal that resulted in a false signal likely due to the need for portfolio managers and hedgers to replace short selling with calls and puts. As I mentioned last week, as of Wednesdays close, the 10 DMA closed at 0.718, down from yesterdays 0.737 It should be noted that the (last) sell signal was generated from a reversal in the 10 DMA near the 0.70 level. While the 10 DMA has been giving somewhat of a false signal, the 20 DMA has continued to trend upward and closed at 0.805. If the 10 DMA reverses upward, the signal will revert to a Negative bias. I would like to see the 10 DMA dip below 0.65 before reversing upward. As of 10/2, the signal was moved to a Negative bias. The 10 DMA closed at 0.794 today, which is approaching the 20 DMA. At the current magnitude of the Put/Call ratio, the 10 DMA could break above the 20 DMA and into overbought range to signal a Positive bias within a few days. I will send out an alert if the 10 DMA signals a change in the bias. SIGNAL: NEGATIVE BIAS
Volatility Index Indicator
As the market continues to decline, the VIX has continued to move higher. For those of you that are new, the VIX is the CBOE Volatility Index or the continuous implied volatility measure of S&P 500 options. Some of you may also be aware of the VXO or the CBOE Volatility Index of the S&P 100 or OEX. The VXO is the old calculation of implied volatility. The chart above is from my trading platform and shows the 10 and 20 DMA (purple and magenta, respectively) and the 200 day Bollinger bands. Usually, he VIX sticks between the upper and lower Bollinger bands. However, at times of massive fear the VIX can break out of this range for a period of time. Notice that the low of 15.82 in mid May correlated almost perfectly with the initial market decline. The go away in May trade has been spot on this year. Since the market kept advancing to new highs well into May, the media kept talking about how that old strategy no longer worked. Similarly, the media is beginning to point that the VIX may not be as good an indicator of capitulation bottoms because the market hasnt bounced yet. From what I know, this is a far worse market and economic climate than 2000 2002 or 1987 for that matter. I made a note today while discussing whether or not to buy with a colleague. I noticed that while the SPX was down 40 points, the VIX was still down. That indicated that while the market may not be at its absolute low, it is close. The reason is that SPX option traders have stopped their need to overpay for options just to protect their flailing portfolios. In other words, everyone that needs to protect their portfolio has done so and therefore the demand for portfolio insurance has begun to decline at these premiums.
I laugh at the commentators on TV that dont realize the reasons the VIX continues to advance and the reason it continues to evade the capitulation signal. It is almost as though the VIX is alive. It is very shy and doesnt care to show its true colors until the spotlight subsides. The lights may be dimming as the media loses confidence in the usually consistent indicator. The signal will remain Negative until the 10 DMA reverses downward. On Monday, the VIX spiked to a high of 58.24; a level not reached since October 1987. The VIX closed well of its highs at 52.05 yesterday but advanced upward today to 53.68. The 10 DMA closed at 42.48 while the 20 DMA closed at 36.62. The 10 DMA has been the support level for volatility. Short term traders can sell the market or cover longs at the next test of the 10 DMA. The 20 DMA is now with the 200 day Upper Bollinger band. The VIX Indicator is just one of three that should be used to establish ones overall portfolio bias. In summary, the signal is still Negative and will most likely stay that way until the 10 DMA dips down. With the 20 DMA above the Upper Bollinger band, I am expecting a long term level of high volatility trading. That can be good if you are a trader and/or diligent high probability option seller. Assuming the indicator is still Negative, dont put new money to work with Negative deltas until the VIX dips down to the 20 DMA at about 37. SIGNAL: NEGATIVE BIAS
Robert J. Ogilvie
Play Editor's Note: Isn't it amazing at how much the short-sale ban on financials has "protected" the financial sector. The ban was enacted on option expiration Friday in September and the financials screamed higher on the news. From the Thursday, September 18th close the XLF is down 20%. From the Friday, September 19th close the XLF is down almost 29% and sitting at new all-time lows. One argument is how bad would the selling have been without the ban? Currently the ban is due to expire midnight tomorrow (Wednesday) and some have suggested that financials were down sharply today as investors exited ahead of the ban expiration.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has given up almost 1,400 points in the last four days. The S&P 500 is down more than 14% in the last four days. The NASDAQ Composite is down almost 16% in the last five days. These numbers are a lot worse if you look at the last seven weeks. The point I want to make is that we're severely oversold and way overdue for some sort of relief (bear-market) rally. This is probably not the time to be opening new short positions - at least not with the VIX over 50.
I did consider adding some sort of straddle or strangle play on the Diamonds (DIA), the S&P 500 through the SPY, or even the Russell 2000 with the IWM but with the VIX this high the November options were very expensive. The numbers didn't add up to make it a worthwhile trade. Even if we got a 1,000 point bounce in the DJIA we could still lose money on a strangle. Unless you were willing to buy October options but Octobers expire in eight trading days.
Tonight's watch list has a few selected stocks where I posed the question, "what if the selling keeps going from here... where would these stocks find support?" These would be support levels where I'd be tempted to buy these stocks (actually calls on these stocks) but with tight stop losses on the stock.
IBM: IBM has already closed under its January 2008 lows. The next level of potential support looks like the $90.00 region.
RIMM: Shares of RIMM just closed under their 200-weekly moving average. The next level of support looks like the $50-48 zone. Beyond that it would probably be the $40 level.
BNI: This railroad stock is already testing support near $80.00. If it keeps going the next level of support appears to be the $75-74 zone.
LMT: This defense stock has dropped very close to support in the $98.00-97.50 region. If it breaks $97.50 the next levels of possible support appear to be $93.00 and then $90.00.
AAPL: It's amazing but AAPL has been in free-fall mode for several weeks straight. The stock has blown past support at $100 and now $90. The next level of possible support looks like the $83.00 region and then past that maybe the $76-75 zone.
ITT Educational Servc - ESI - cls: 68.73 chg: -3.26 stop: 75.05*new*
Another market sell-off pushes ESI to a 4.5% decline and its first close under $70.00 since May 2008. We are adjusting our stop loss to $75.05. More conservative traders may want to use a tighter stop loss. We are not suggesting new positions at this time. The market is so oversold it is rife for a relief rally. ESI has already hit our target at $67.50. Our secondary target is $61.00 but that might be overly aggressive on a short-term time frame.
Picked on October 06 at $ 73.30 *triggered/gap down
Hasbro Inc. - HAS - close: 30.15 change: -1.21 stop: 33.85 *new*
HAS continues to sink with another failed rally under its 200-dma near the $32 level. We are adjusting our stop loss to $33.85 around its 10-dma. More conservative traders may want to use a tighter stop since we are worried about an oversold rebound rally. Our target is the $27.65 mark. Don't be surprised to see a temporary bounce near $30.00. More aggressive traders may want to aim lower but we don't want to hold over the late October earnings report. FYI: The P&F chart is bearish with a $24 target.
Picked on October 06 at $ 32.25 *triggered 10/06/08
Sears Holding - SHLD - cls: 78.79 chg: -6.95 stop: 89.05 *new*
Target achieved. Both SHLD and JCP were hammered for 7% declines on Tuesday. SHLD almost lost 8%. The stock plunged through the $80.00 level and yet volume was only half the norm. This doesn't look like capitulation in SHLD. Our first target was the $81.00 mark. Traders should have taken some money off the table if not all of their position. We're adjusting our stop loss to $89.05. We're not suggesting new positions at this time. More conservative traders, if you haven't exited yet, may want to use a tighter stop loss. Our second target is $76.00. The Point & Figure chart is bearish with a $77 target.
Picked on October 01 at $ 89.04 /1st target hit 81.00
Volatility Index - VIX - cls: 53.68 chg: + 1.63 stop: n/a
The markets plunged another 5% and the VIX closed at another record high. We
don't see any changes from our previous comments.
Picked on September 16 at = 30.30 first position
Financial Sector SPDR - XLF - cls: 15.92 chg: -1.88 stop: n/a
Target achieved. The financial sector continues to collapse as investors have no confidence in a solution for unfreezing the credit crisis. The XLF crashed through the bottom of its trading range and sank to new lows. This move lower in the XLF pushed the October $18.00 put (XLF-VR) to an intraday high of $2.54. Our suggested target to exit was $2.25. The options in our play were the October $22.00 call (XLF-JV) and the October $18.00 put (XLF-VR). Our estimated cost was $1.54. The hypothetical gain was +46% at $2.25.
Picked on October 02 at $ 19.64
Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Keene H. Little, The Contrarian by
Robert Ogilvie, and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.
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