This week marked a moment our model has not seen during a running six month period of time (this occurred in only four months, making it even more interesting), during the past 130 years. With the weak BUY signal in the Nasdaq switching to a SELL signal in the Russell 2000 on Thursday to a NEUTRAL signal on Friday, it marked 11 model switches to BUY or SELL in a row without a 5% gain. This has never happened before in 130 years and indicates that we are definitely in a market environment similar to 1937-1941 on the DJIA and 1976-1979 on the SP 500.
The price pattern is more similar to 1976-1979 but the volume is more similar to 1930-1933 and 1940-1942 on the DJIA. This, therefore, automatically shuts down our model on the next signal and now prevents any new position to be of any size what so ever until a trend develops.
I have stated before and I will state it again, there is no other time period ever in the history of the stock market where you can find the stock market rally on below average weekly and monthly volume (50 day volume average) for a prolonged period of time. All lower volume rallies before this one have ended in one or two ways. They either reverse and give back all gains or they lead up to a higher volume rally. Normally, those low volume monthly rallies only last one or two months before the real volume enters. The current rally has been on below average volume since 2009 (the entire way–not one above average volume UP month) on the DJIA and SP 500 and 2010 on the Nasdaq. So this low volume rally is too far into the trend to have that happen based on history. However, this being something completely different than ever before, could lead to it happening.
This market is doing things it has simply never done before so why not. This situation, along with a high unemployment rate and a 1.5% GDP, is preventing any upward momentum from being generated. At the same time, without any more threats of QE or Operation Twist, we believe the market would be 50% lower from the current levels (based on removing all market rallies that either came before an FOMC day or on a day where easing was announced). The market is lifting higher due to inflation of hard assets.
This is not good for trend followers on the long side or the short side. The real profitable trend lower will not be allowed to materialize with the Central Banks interference. And the long side trend will be small and choppy thanks to low interest rates and the aforementioned items above.
Another thing that bothers me are the low VIX and sideline activity by AAII and Investors Intelligence survey members. The VIX is already at low levels so its hard to believe any real new uptrend will start here. However, the fact the VIX fell on Thursday when the market fell indicates that it could be temporarily broken. Also, there are more people on the sidelines than there are bulls or bears. This prevents extreme pessimism or optimism from forming thus preventing a major move in the opposite direction.
Overall, it is a market where intermediate term trend following methodologies continue to be hindered and we find it safest for our assets that we just be on the side playing extremely small until we can get volume confirmation across the board. What will that confirmation look like? A significant move one way or the other on well above average volume on the indexes, ETFs, leveraged ETFs, inverse ETFs, and individual leading stocks. As long as confirmation is not across the board, Big Wave Trading will stay small until a “perfect” setup comes along.
We have not seen a perfect setup that worked since February (one perfect and two near-perfects on the long side failed since) on the long side and we have not seen one at all since March on the short side. Until these show up, we are going to take it easy and wait for the right moment to begin operating at a higher capacity.
Protecting our capital remains goal one in this trendless tape. The only play that is consistently working is our earnings gap plays. Up or down, it doesn’t matter as long as it is due to some earnings surprise and volume is at least 50% of average daily volume in the pre-market session. Besides that, buying every single dip hoping that the Fed will save you has worked also. That is not exactly my personal style. I am patient and will only risk the capital when the money is sitting in the corner waiting to be taken. Aloha and have a great weekend!
Top Current Holdings – Percent Return – Date of Signal
AVD long – 88% – 1/10/12
BVSN short – 82% – 3/19/12
PRXI short – 35% – 3/30/12
MAGS short – 33% – 4/18/12
CLGX long – 32% – 6/19/12
CAMP long – 31% – 4/26/12
AXTI short – 26% – 7/19/12
PHMD short – 26% – 5/11/12
STX long – 25% – 6/29/12