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None The Worse For Wear? image

Everybody knows that the attention span of a Wall Street trader often rivals that of a gnat. Understanding this helps explain the schizophrenic behavior displayed by the major indices since the beginning of December. Back and forth. Up and down. Eight direction changes in two months, with no move in either direction lasting more than a handful of days.

To anyone attempting to discern a trend in the market, the action has been maddening. Every time it looks like the path forward is clear, the market's mood changes on a dime and Wall Street's computers push the indices in the opposite direction. Such is the way the game has been played.

However, if one steps back from the blinking screens and the flashing headlines, the action appears a bit less insane. Take a look at the weekly chart of the S&P 500 shown below and see if you don't agree.

S&P 500 - Weekly

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Instead of the wild volatility evident on an intraday chart, the weekly chart makes the situation quite clear. In short, it appears that the venerable blue chip index has been in a consolidation phase since the beginning December and that the long-term uptrend remains intact. (Prices do seem to be moving from the lower left of the chart to the upper right.)

What Gives?

One explanation for the sideways consolidation is that prices are digesting the 14% move the index made from the October 15 low through December 5. This was a rebound from 2014's one and only correction and the upside action became hot and heavy there for a while. As such, the bulls had earned a rest.

Another way to look at the situation is that investors have been attempting to sort through the various inputs thrown at them of late. These would include a new $1 trillion QE program from the ECB, the crash in oil prices, and the latest drama in Greece.

This has effectively been an ongoing argument in the market. On the one hand, traders want to get ahead of the €60 billion per month that will start looking for a home in March. Yet on the other hand, we have the well documented concerns about oil and now the renewed fear that Greece will cause the Eurozone to collapse (feel free to insert an eye roll here).

None the Worse For Wear

With each new headline relating the topic du jour, Wall Street's trading machines react - oftentimes violently, causing intraday volatility that can cause one's head to spin. But from a bigger picture point of view, the major indices don't appear to be any worse for wear.

Thus, one could argue that so far at least, the positive inputs have largely offset the negatives. Or conversely, that the potential negatives from oil and Greece have kept the enthusiasm over the upcoming QE program in check. Take your pick. But the bottom line is that regardless of your view on causation, the outcome is the same.

The key takeaway from the recent manic/depressive daily behavior is that the indices have NOT broken down. Sure, it has been scary at times as the trading algorithms move the market lower at the speed of light. However, on no fewer than four occasions over the past two-plus months, the declines have been stopped in their tracks at critical technical junctures.

Thus, our heroes in horns tell us that we can expect the current consolidation pattern to resolve itself to the upside at some point in the future. Unless of course there is a new crisis, or the Greeks decide to actually try to leave the Eurozone, or oil resumes its steep decline, etcetera, etcetera.

So for now, it would appear that patience is the watchword as traders and their machines continue to try to sort things out on a daily basis.

Turning to This Morning...

With some hints of flexibility coming out of Europe (there is talk of a 6-month extension on the current Greek deadline and that the ECB would resume accepting Greek debt as collateral) ahead of tomorrow's important Eurogroup meeting, the mood of the markets seems to be much improved this morning. How long the upbeat view lasts is anybody's guess. But at this stage of the game, European bourses are up nicely and U.S. futures point to a stronger open on Wall Street.

Pre-Game Indicators

Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell...

Major Foreign Markets:
    Japan: -0.33%
    Hong Kong: +0.03%
    Shanghai: +1.51%
    London: -0.24%
    Germany: +0.71%
    France: +1.01%
    Italy: +1.48%
    Spain: +1.22%

Crude Oil Futures: -$0.58 to $52.28

Gold: -$2.90 at $1238.60

Dollar: higher against the yen, lower vs. euro and pound

10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.010%

Stock Indices in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    S&P 500: +14.26
    Dow Jones Industrial Average: +125
    NASDAQ Composite: +30.46

Thought For The Day:

Strive to be the person your dog thinks you are -- unknown

Current Market Drivers

We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).

      1. The State of the Latest Greek Drama
      2. The State of the Oil Crash
      3. The State of the U.S. Economy
      4. The State of Fed/ECB Policy

The State of the Trend

We believe it is important to analyze the market using multiple time-frames. We define short-term as 3 days to 3 weeks, intermediate-term as 3 weeks to 3 months, and long-term as 3 months or more. Below are our current ratings of the three primary trends:

Short-Term Trend: Moderately Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 1 month)

Intermediate-Term Trend: Moderately Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 6 months)

Long-Term Trend: Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 2 years)

Key Technical Areas:

Traders as well as computerized algorithms are generally keenly aware of the important technical levels on the charts from a short-term basis. Below are the levels we deem important to watch today:

  • Key Near-Term Support Zone(s) for S&P 500: 1975
  • Key Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 2060-90

The State of the Tape

Momentum indicators are designed to tell us about the technical health of a trend - I.E. if there is any "oomph" behind the move. Below are a handful of our favorite indicators relating to the market's "mo"...

  • Trend and Breadth Confirmation Indicator (Short-Term): Positive
  • Price Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Volume Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Breadth Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Neutral
  • Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: Neutral

The Early Warning Indicators

Markets travel in cycles. Thus we must constantly be on the lookout for changes in the direction of the trend. Looking at market sentiment and the overbought/sold conditions can provide "early warning signs" that a trend change may be near.

  • S&P 500 Overbought/Oversold Conditions:
          - Short-Term: Moderately Overbought
          - Intermediate-Term: Neutral
  • Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model is Neutral .

The State of the Market Environment

One of the keys to long-term success in the stock market is stay in tune with the market's "big picture" environment in terms of risk versus reward.

  • Weekly Market Environment Model Reading: Positive

Wishing you green screens and all the best for a great day,

David D. Moenning
Founder and Chief Investment Strategist
Heritage Capital Research
Be Sure To Check Out the NEW Website!


Indicator Explanations

Trend and Breadth Confirmation Indicator (Short-Term) Explained: History shows the most reliable market moves tend to occur when the breadth indices are in gear with the major market averages. When the breadth measures diverge, investors should take note that a trend reversal may be at hand. This indicator incorporates an All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 5-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 25-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +32.5% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost +23.6% per year.

Price Thrust Indicator Explained: This indicator measures the 3-day rate of change of the Value Line Composite relative to the standard deviation of the 30-day average. When the Value Line's 3-day rate of change have moved above 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day average ROC, a "thrust" occurs and since 2000, the Value Line Composite has gained ground at a rate of +20.6% per year. When the indicator is below 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day, the Value Line has lost ground at a rate of -10.0% per year. And when neutral, the Value Line has gained at a rate of +5.9% per year.

Volume Thrust Indicator Explained: This indicator uses NASDAQ volume data to indicate bullish and bearish conditions for the NASDAQ Composite Index. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of NASDAQ daily advancing volume (i.e., the total volume traded in stocks which rose in price each day) to the 10-day total of daily declining volume (volume traded in stocks which fell each day). This ratio indicates when advancing stocks are attracting the majority of the volume (readings above 1.0) and when declining stocks are seeing the heaviest trading (readings below 1.0). This indicator thus supports the case that a rising market supported by heavier volume in the advancing issues tends to be the most bullish condition, while a declining market with downside volume dominating confirms bearish conditions. When in a positive mode, the NASDAQ Composite has gained at a rate of +38.3% per year, When neutral, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when negative, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -8.5% per year.

Breadth Thrust Indicator Explained: This indicator uses the number of NASDAQ-listed stocks advancing and declining to indicate bullish or bearish breadth conditions for the NASDAQ Composite. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of the number of stocks rising on the NASDAQ each day to the 10-day total of the number of stocks declining each day. Using 10-day totals smooths the random daily fluctuations and gives indications on an intermediate-term basis. As expected, the NASDAQ Composite performs much better when the 10-day A/D ratio is high (strong breadth) and worse when the indicator is in its lower mode (weak breadth). The most bullish conditions for the NASDAQ when the 10-day A/D indicator is not only high, but has recently posted an extreme high reading and thus indicated a thrust of upside momentum. Bearish conditions are confirmed when the indicator is low and has recently signaled a downside breadth thrust. In positive mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +22.1% per year since 1981. In a neutral mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +14.5% per year. And when in a negative mode, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -6.4% per year.

Bull/Bear Volume Relationship Explained: This indicator plots both "supply" and "demand" volume lines. When the Demand Volume line is above the Supply Volume line, the indicator is bullish. From 1981, the stock market has gained at an average annual rate of +11.7% per year when in a bullish mode. When the Demand Volume line is below the Supply Volume line, the indicator is bearish. When the indicator has been bearish, the market has lost ground at a rate of -6.1% per year.

Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups Explained: Designed to provide a reading on the technical health of the overall market, this indicator takes the technical temperature of more than 100 industry sectors each week. Looking back to early 1980, when the model is rated as "positive," the S&P has averaged returns in excess of 23% per year. When the model carries a "neutral" reading, the S&P has returned over 11% per year. But when the model is rated "negative," stocks fall by more than -13% a year on average.

Weekly State of the Market Model Reading Explained:Different market environments require different investing strategies. To help us identify the current environment, we look to our longer-term State of the Market Model. This model is designed to tell us when risk factors are high, low, or uncertain. In short, this longer-term oriented, weekly model tells us whether the odds favor the bulls, bears, or neither team.


Disclosures

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning’s opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program.

Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

David D. Moenning, an advisor representative of CONCERT Wealth Management Inc. (CONCERT), is founder of Heritage Capital Advisors LLC, a legal business entity doing business as Heritage Capital Research (Heritage). Advisory services are offered through CONCERT Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor. For a complete description of investment risks, fees and services review the CONCERT firm brochure (ADV Part 2) which is available from your Investment Representative or by contacting Heritage or CONCERT.

Mr. Moenning is also the owner of Heritage Capital Management (HCM) a state-registered investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Neither HCM, Heritage, or CONCERT is registered as a broker-dealer.

Employees and affiliates of Heritage and HCM may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or Heritage/HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.