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Will the 15th Time Be the Charm? image

Well, here we go again. Once again, the S&P 500 finished at what amounted to a fractional new all-time high on Thursday. And once again, the venerable index did not produce a convincing break above the top end of the trading range that has been with us for quite some time now. So once again, the question of the day is if the breakout will finally arrive or if traders will produce yet another "fake out" at the top end of the range.

If you find your self skeptical about the market's ability to break on through to the other side, you are likely in good company. You see, this is definitely not the first go-round on this. And while we can argue about the final tally, we count no fewer than 14 prior breakout attempts since the end of February alone. So, please forgive me if the champagne remains in the rack at this stage of the game.

S&P 500 Index - Daily

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The other question investors may be wondering about is why the market suddenly moved back up to new highs. Isn't there a rate spike occurring? Wasn't the earnings season a disappointment? Isn't the economy still producing punk numbers? And isn't the Fed about to hike rates?

All About Rates?

While there was no clear catalyst for the move, the stabilization in rates was the go-to explanation du jour for the improved mood on Wall Street. At the heart of the move may have been a WSJ article suggesting that the reasons being bandied about for the selloff in bond prices may not be sustainable. For example, the article noted that expectations for the Eurozone economy to improve in any meaningful fashion appear to be misplaced and that while the U.S. economy should improve in the second half of the year, the data remains weak at this point in time. Therefore, the thinking is that the spike in rates may be short-lived.

Will China Join the Game?

Another argument heard from the bull camp was that China is about to enter the stimulus/QE game in a meaningful way. Unless you live in a cave without an internet connection, you are likely aware that the growth rate of China's economy has been faltering. Some analysts have gone so far as to say that the world's second biggest economy is in trouble. As such, expectations are building for China to launch stimulus programs that may include the buying of bonds. And in short, every trader on the planet knows what to do when central banks start buying in the open market.

Not as Bad as Feared

While not exactly a timely issue, yet another point on the bull camp's short list is the fact that the market seems to have survived the latest earnings season none the worse for wear. The key here is that although the bottom line numbers for Q1 were clearly not great, they also weren't as bad as had been feared. So, again, while the timing can certainly be called into question, there may be some "sigh of relief" buying going on here.

But The Big Question Is...

However, the big question is if the 15th (or 13th, or 14th, or 16th - you make the call) try at a breakout on the charts will be the charm? In sum, this movie has been on a loop for the better part of the last six months and all traders know how it ends. To date, the game plan for the fast-money types has been to hit the market hard with sell orders each and every time a breakout attempt gets underway. So, will Wall Street continue to play the same 'ol game or has the breakout moment finally arrived? Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

Turning To This Morning...

In addition to fresh comments out of China overnight (Chinese Premier Li highlighted some signs of improvement in the economy, but said more "forceful measures" needed to counter downside pressure.) ECB President Mario Draghi informed investors that Europe's central bank has no plans to cut short its QE program. Thus, traders come into this fine Friday morning with the knowledge that the QE game can continue to be played for at least another year. But with a breakout on the line in the U.S., futures are pointing to only a modest increase at this time.

Pre-Game Indicators

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

Major Foreign Markets:
    Japan: +0.83%
    Hong Kong: +1.96%
    Shanghai: -1.58%
    London: +0.33%
    Germany: -0.07%
    France: +0.29%
    Italy: +0.41%
    Spain: -0.16%

Crude Oil Futures: -$0.20 to $59.68

Gold: -$11.00 at $1214.20

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

10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.206%

Stock Indices in U.S. (relative to fair value):
    S&P 500: +4.00
    Dow Jones Industrial Average: +25
    NASDAQ Composite: +12.56

Thought For The Day:

The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention. -John Burroughs

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 Interest Rates
      2. The State of Fed/ECB/PBoC Policy
      3. The State of the U.S. Economy
      4. The State of the U.S. Dollar

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: 2080
  • Key Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 2125

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): Neutral
  • Price Thrust Indicator: Negative
  • Volume Thrust Indicator: Negative
  • Breadth Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Intermediate-Term Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive
  • Technical Health of 100+ Industry Groups: Moderately Positive

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: Neutral
          - Intermediate-Term: Moderately Overbought
  • 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: Moderately Positive

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

David D. Moenning
Founder and Chief Investment Strategist
Heritage Capital Research


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.