Friday is a non-farm payroll day, which usually leads to a wild pre-open. The recent history of NFP days is bullish, with 14 of the last 15 ending in the green. What's happened in the recent past with some regularity is that futures sell off immediately on the bad payroll number, then everyone suddenly remembers: "Hey, bad payroll is good
for continued QE! And continued QE is good for equities!" At which point the futures rally to recover all their losses and then some. It will be interesting to see if a good jobs number leads to the reverse effect or not.
There's really no significant change in the outlook, and the S&P 500
(INDEXSP:.INX) remains poised at an inflection point. Not to overstate the obvious, but I think the biggest challenge for bears is the fact that we're still in a bull market, and bull market surprises are almost always to the upside.
In the last update, I discussed the fact that the market has reached an inflection point, so today's first chart is an interesting look at how inflection points work. The chart below is the Russell 2000
(INDEXRUSSELL:RUT), and it was originally published (exactly as reprinted here) on December 19, 2012. (See: SPX, NDX, RUT: November's Targets Captured, and a Look at the Long Term
) This chart illustrates the value of identifying, and respecting, inflection points.
I'm also republishing this chart because an interesting thing has happened since that 2012 inflection point: On March 4, 2014, RUT finally captured its 1200 target, with an intraday high of 1212.82. By virtue of the wave structure, the 1200 target was identified as an "if/then" equation if RUT exceeded 902.30. Needless to say, 1200 represented a 25% gain from that level -- which sounded incredible and unbelievable at the time.
This was one of those "unpopular" bull articles I referenced recently -- a grand total of four people
shared that 1200 projection on Twitter in 2012. I use this stuff as my personal (admittedly anecdotal) gauge of sentiment, because we all have a tendency toward confirmation bias. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs; we like people who agree with us; and we usually only share articles that support our views. In fact, an Ohio State University study concluded that we'll spend 36% more time reading an essay if it agrees with our opinions (more on this after the chart).
For this reason, I sometimes get nervous when my projections seem to be in line with the majority of analysts and readers. This is probably one of my personal challenges this late in the bull market. Being bullish when most were bearish suited me fine -- but now it seems "everybody" is bullish, and that makes me uncomfortable. I get uncomfortable not because I'm a crazy rebel, but because the market often likes to disappoint the majority. I have to keep reminding myself that the latter stages of bull markets can be the exception to that rule, and the majority are "allowed" to get on board for a while.
Anyone who was trading back in the late '90s knows exactly what I mean: In 1999, stocks were so universally loved that books titled Dow 800,000,000!
were flying off the shelves; teenage fry cooks at McDonald's frequently offered hot, unsolicited stock picks
that later turned out to be winners
; and even my grandmother's dog had a profitable portfolio (of stocks the dog had chosen himself, up 12% in 1999) -- and yet the market just kept running higher and higher anyway.
It took a long time for that sentiment to see Judgment Day: much longer than many thought possible. So while the wave structure supports the idea of a turn, we can't simply blindly ignore the possibility that a similar "endless rally" endgame could occur this time around, too.
I think if we want to be better traders, we have to rigorously and continually challenge our own assumptions, lest we develop tunnel vision. Our tendency as humans is to come up with a hypothesis and then work to prove ourselves right. We sometimes ignore or gloss over information that contradicts our hypothesis -- but that type of "ignorance is bliss" approach can be deadly for traders. I think one of the best ways we can judge a good hypothesis is to work to prove it wrong
. If it still holds up to that kind of hard scrutiny, then it's probably solid.
So here we are again, at another inflection point. Not quite the same magnitude as the aforementioned 2012 inflection point, but significant nonetheless. We can count five waves up; RUT has reached its long-term target; and there are negative momentum divergences across multiple time frames. Basically, bears have everything working for them -- except the actual trend
. And that's the most important factor.
Bears need to make a stand directly to wrap this wave up or risk watching a subdividing rally extend toward 2000. 1895+/- remains the pivot zone for this inflection point, so in the event bulls can sustain trade above that zone, then we'll simply have to keep playing the "everybody knows it's a bull market" trend game.
Near term, SPX has formed five complete waves, but I've learned over the years that these can be (for lack of a better term) "traps" for fractal-based systems like Elliott Wave. Five waves marks a complete wave, but it does not
tell us if that wave will subdivide into five still-larger waves. It's a probability play, and it's one of the reasons that identifying key levels and watching other indicators in conjunction with the wave counts is important.
In conclusion, the market remains poised at the inflection point discussed in Wednesday's update, and no key levels have yet been claimed by either side. The market has ground around in an upward-sloping range for long enough that a decision should be close at hand, likely within the next couple sessions. In the event bears are going to force a turn, now's the time. Trade safe.
Follow me on Twitter while I try to figure out exactly how to make practical use of Twitter: @PretzelLogic.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.