A sign of disagreement among Fed heads sparked nervousness in the stock market but Bernanke provided some relief after-hours. The day's doji is a sign of indecision following a strong rally.
There was nothing in this morning's economic reports to move the market and in fact there wasn't much of anything to move the market all day until we got the FOMC minutes this afternoon. Yesterday afternoon's consolidation was followed by more consolidation during the overnight session and that continued into today. The market pulled back but there wasn't anything especially bearish about what it was doing. It continues to look constructive for the bulls.
At 2:00 PM the FOMC minutes were released and that caused a spike up to a new daily high for the indexes but it looked more like a short-covering reaction rather than something more bullish. Following the jerk to the upside the market then sold off and retraced the spike up. But it was all small stuff -- SPX spiked less than 8 points before giving it all back, giving up about 10 points before climbing back up a little into the close. The day finished with a small doji candle (doji star).
Part of the problem was that the FOMC minutes showed the Fed heads hardly in agreement, which comes as no surprise since we've been hearing different messages from Bernanke and then the back-pedaling by Fed governors. Some examples from the minutes:
-- Fed says several on FOMC saw tapering likely warranted soon
-- Fed says many on FOMC said labor gains needed before taper
-- Fed says FOMC saw fiscal policy restraining economic growth
-- Half of the Fed indicated it likely would be appropriate to end asset purchases late this year (instead of slowing purchases)
-- A few participants indicated that the committee should slow or stop its purchases at the June meeting
The key is that a tapering of asset purchases appears to be coming soon and as usual it's all data-dependent. Few believe the Fed will make any kind of sudden halt to asset purchases this year but certainly the fear of tapering is going to have most thinking the market can't survive without more purchases and any tapering will pull liquidity out of the market. Liquidity has already been drying up and if the Fed pulls back it's going to only get worse. Liquidity is to the market what oil is to an engine and blood is to us.
Perhaps most important, with half the Fed saying asset purchases should be stopped by the end of 2014 (not just tapered), we are seeing signs of a full blown mutiny in the Fed. This will be part of the process whereby the market loses faith in the Fed and once that starts to happen there will be little to hold the market up. Faith in the Fed is the only thing that has been holding the market up in the face of deteriorating economic conditions and company earnings.
After today's market closed Bernanke then spoke in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss the central bank's 100-year history. The speech obviously included some more "what I meant to say" and the after-hours futures market was relieved to hear he's not going to take away the spiked punch bowl anytime soon. Equity futures bolted higher, making new highs above this afternoon's, and the dollar sank further, indicating fear of more monetization efforts to come.
One sign of deteriorating company earnings, and possibly a reason why the Fed is immediately backing away from anymore taper talk, was reported by Reuters this morning. They mentioned 122 S&P 500 companies have thus far issued earnings pre-announcements. Significantly, the ratio of negative-to-positive pre-announcements is 6.5-to-1, which is the largest percentage of negative readings since 2001. This was of course near the bottom of the decline from 2000 whereas today we're at the top of a long-in-the-tooth rally.
Even with the earnings bar so low that a snake could crawl over it we're still getting earnings warnings. There's a good chance the Fed is fully aware of this and therefore backing away from any thoughts of draining any liquidity from the market. I've been of the opinion that we'll see the Fed Increase asset purchases long before they back off on purchases.
As we've seen many times in the past, the bulk of the rally from the June 24th low has occurred during the overnight session in the futures market. We've seen several gaps to the upside but not much follow through after that. In fact it has looked more like a distribution pattern -- gap it up to create some liquidity as the cash market catches up and use the liquidity to sell into. I have little doubt that that's exactly what some of the big hedge funds are doing. Following the upside gaps we've seen consolidations, pullbacks and maybe a push back to the highs of the day before the close, rinse and repeat.
The SPY daily chart shows the results of this gap-up-consolidate pattern with a bunch of doji's for the day's candlesticks. It's one of the stranger rallies we've seen and it fits well for the final leg of the rally. Also note the significant decline in volume as the rally has progressed. I see a little more upside potential but now I'm cautioning traders to be very careful about being in long positions.
S&P 500 ETF, SPY, Daily chart
The question now is whether or not the rally from the June low has finished, or will finish this week, or if there will be an effort to push it higher into opex week. A couple of indexes, the RUT and BKX included, have already achieved new highs for the year but will they be left alone in doing so? We could be in a similar pattern of previous major highs, such as the 2007 high which saw a momentum high in July and a minor new high with bearish divergence at the October high. A May momentum high followed by a weaker minor new high (or lower high) in July would be a repeat and the top should be just as significant as the 2007 high. This pattern calls for a final high by the end of next week (opex) and until the bears can do something soon I continue to expect this minor new high scenario to play out.
Showing a quick loss of fear in the stock market, following the high in VIX that coincided with the June low in the stock market, it has quickly deflated and is now back below its 50- and 200-dma's, at 15.26 and 15.06, resp. Today's low was 14.06 is now near its uptrend line from March, near 13.25, which I suspect will be tagged if we get the push higher in the stock market into next week. Holding its uptrend line would help with a short entry in the stock market.
Volatility index, VIX, Daily chart
The SPX weekly chart shows my expectation for at least a minor new high by next week, potentially up to a price projection at 1768 in August. There is the possibility we'll get another leg down for the pullback correction off the May high and then another rally into October. A break below 1530 would indicate a more serious decline is underway.
S&P 500, SPX, Weekly chart
The good news for the bulls is the fact that SPX has climbed above both its downtrend line from May as well as back above its broken November-April uptrend line (and of course its 50-dma). Holding above its uptrend line, near 1645 on Thursday, keeps the bulls in control. A drop below the June 27th high at 1620 would negate the bullish wave count that calls for a pullback and then higher into next week.
S&P 500, SPX, Daily chart
Key Levels for SPX:
- bullish above 1655
- bearish below 1620
Before the after-hours bounce it was looking like the market was set up for a pullback (or something more bearish) and that's what I'm showing on the 60-min chart below. In light green I'm showing a rally up to about 1664 where it will meet a trend line along the highs from the July 27th high. The projection at 1664 is also where the rally from June 24th would have two equal legs up. This might be significant because it's possible it will be an a-b-c bounce to complete wave-B in a larger A-B-C pullback correction off the May high. This would mean a steep pullback into the end of the month and then another rally. I consider that an alternate wave count at the moment. A final high next week is the preferred count at the moment.
S&P 500, SPX, 60-min chart
It's the same pattern for the DOW -- it has rallied up to the trend line along the highs from June 27th but the top of a parallel up-channel from June 24th is near 15460 Thursday morning, about 70 points above today's close, which is being suggested by the climb in the after-hours futures market. It's possible, if the futures hold up overnight and we get the gap up, we might see a gap n crap day tomorrow so be careful about that possibility (more distribution).
Dow Industrials, INDU, Daily chart
Key Levels for DOW:
- bullish above 15,200
- bearish below 15,075
From a trendline and Fib perspective I see upside potential to 3572-3595 for the Nasdaq before the end of the month. The pattern of the rally from October 2011 counts best as a double zigzag, which has the second a-b-c as the move up from June 2012. The c-wave would be 162% of the a-wave near 3572. The 62% retracement of the 2000-2002 decline is at 3595. The top of a parallel up-channel from October 2011 crosses this projection zone before the end of this month.
Nasdaq Composite index, COMPQ, Daily chart
Key Levels for COMPQ:
- bullish above 3515
- bearish below 3415
A common reversal Fib is the 127% extension of a previous move. For the RUT this extension is of the May-June pullback and points to 1026. This extension crosses the trend line along the highs from February 2012 through the May 2013 high tomorrow and if the rally in the after-hours futures holds we'll see that level tested first thing in the morning. It's possible that will complete the rally so be watchful for the possibility.
Russell-2000, RUT, Daily chart
Key Levels for RUT:
- bullish above 1026
- bearish below 993
Last week's selloff in bonds pushed yields to new highs for the move up from May 1st. Monday's negative reaction in bonds had TNX (10-year yield) making another high but with bearish divergence and Monday's high at 2.725% was ticks shy of the projection at 2.744%, which is where the c-wave of an a-b-c bounce off the July 2012 low is 162% of the a-wave. If bonds sell off a little more it could have TNX tagging its downtrend line from 1981-2007, near 2.84%, but at the moment it's a good setup for a reversal in bonds, even if it will be only a pullback before heading higher (which most analysts seem to believe at this point).
10-year Yield, TNX, Weekly chart
I've been showing the BKX weekly chart for the past few weeks to point out a trend line along the highs from March 2012 through the May 2013 high, near 64.10. Monday it poked above the line and then hit a high of 64.67 on Tuesday before dropping sharply back down today. Closing back below the line leaves a sell signal following the throw-over so that's a warning sign for the bulls at the moment.
More important than the trend line is the fact that BKX has reached a projection zone at 64.60-64.90 with Tuesday's high. The larger wave count for the rally from October 2011 can be considered complete at any time now. Similar to the wave count discussed for the Nasdaq, the move up from October 2011 looks to be a double zigzag wave count with the first a-b-c up to the March 2012 high, the x-wave down to the June 2012 low and the second a-b-c up from there. The c-wave is 162% of the a-wave at 64.60 (achieved) and the 5-wave move for it is shown on the daily chart below. The 1st wave looks like an extension and in that case it's typical for the 3rd through 5th waves to equal the 1st wave (sometimes only 62%), which is the projection at 64.90. For this reason, the upper trend line that it dropped back below this morning is potentially important (as a sell signal). This is a good reason to be very cautious about the long side even though there remains the potential for the broader averages to press higher without the banks.
KBW Bank index, BKX, Daily chart
With both the DOW and TRAN rallying above their June 18th highs we have at least have them in synch and supporting the bulls. But not much higher the TRAN could run into trouble at its broken uptrend line from November-April, near 6550 on Thursday (70 points above Tuesday's high). In the same area is the top of its parallel up-channel for the rally from October 2011. Whether or not a new high is made above its May high, this should be the final rally leg.
Transportation Index, TRAN, Weekly chart
This week the dollar made a minor new high above its May high, retracing its sharp decline into June, but then sold off today and back below that high at 84.59, closing near 84.20. Then Bernanke spoke after the market closed and the dollar spiked lower, closing the after-hours session at 83.69. We'll have to see how it does in the overnight session but so far it looks ready for a pullback before pressing higher again (green path on its weekly chart below). We could see the dollar drop back down to about 82 and it would not turn bearish until it drops below its June 13th low at 80.50.
U.S. Dollar contract, DX, Weekly chart
Gold's pattern continues to call for a choppy bounce into the end of this month and potentially back up to 1300-1350 (wide range for now until the bounce pattern becomes clearer). One more new low after the bounce, perhaps down to the 1155 area, would set up a very good buying opportunity for at least a few months.
Gold continuous contract, GC, Daily chart
There's been no stopping oil's rally since its June 24th low at 92.67. It has now convincingly broken its downtrend line from May 2011 - March 2012, near 103.50 and with a high of 106.87 today it's up +15% in 11 trading days. If it breaks above the March 2012 high at 110.55 it will be a true bullish breakout rather than part of some larger bounce correction and then the question would be whether or not higher oil prices will hurt the economy. A spike in oil prices has not been good for either oil or the economy in the past. Two equal legs up from June 2012 points to 108.75 for a possible high for its bounce and as shown with the bold blue lines, the two legs would have the same slope if the 108.75 is achieved this week.
Oil continuous contract, CL, Weekly chart
There were no significant economic reports today but Thursday will be a little busier. But the unemployment claims, import/export prices, natural gas inventories and Treasury Budget are not market movers. Friday's PPi and Michigan Sentiment numbers could be market movers if they're much different than expected. Just keep in mind that reports will be interpreted by the "what will the Fed think" filter.
Economic reports and Summary
Following the 3-wave pullback from May into the June 18th low had me leaning with the bulls for another rally to new highs for the year. I've been showing the RUT's chart for weeks with this expectation and as I've been showing intraday, the market has been following the EW roadmap very closely. Ideally we'll see a pullback for a few days and then another rally leg into the end of next week to complete a clean 5-wave move up from June 18th. That would do a nice job setting up a reversal and an outstanding shorting opportunity.
The rally from the June 18th low could be part of a larger pullback correction from the May high and this interpretation calls for a 3-wave move up from June 18th, which could be completing any day now. It's possible a gap up on Thursday will be the final high and could be a gap n crap morning. So be careful about that possibility. Even if a new high only leads to a pullback before heading higher next week it means you don't want to chase a gap up Thursday morning. Needless to say it will be more bullish if we see a gap up and then nothing more than another high-level consolidation. But waning momentum has been a warning that we should be looking for at least a pullback.
The Thursday/Friday prior to opex (sometimes as late as Monday of opex week) has often been a head-fake day, like last month, with a pullback followed by a couple of buy programs to get the shorts running for cover. That remains a possibility this time again, especially if the wave pattern calling for a new high after a pullback is correct. I consider now to be a risky time to hold long positions but too early to get aggressively short. Trade carefully in the coming week.
Good luck and I'll be back with you next Wednesday.
Keene H. Little, CMT
In the end everything works out and if it doesn't work out, it is not the end. Old Indian Saying