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After Mini-Rally in US Stocks, Time to Take the Money and Run


There are too many structural and solvency related issues in Europe and it's "extremely possible" they will rear their ugly heads in 2012.

"Oooo... It's the Big One... You hear that Elizabeth... I'm comin' to you, I'm comin' home to Georgia."
-Fred Sanford, Sanford and Son

Is this it? Is this the big one? Are we "a comin' home" with this move? Trying to figure out if this latest market upswing is the start of the big rally people have been waiting for (or if it's a head-fake) is the all-consuming market issue. Figure that out, and you'll end up looking like a hero into year-end. But if you're a portfolio manager for an underperforming fund and you get it wrong, you'll be spending New Year's working on your resume.

Lamont Sanford: They're predicting a massive earthquake on November 6.
Fred Sanford: November 6? That's only five days away!
Lamont Sanford: Don't worry about a thing, Pop, it's not possible.

Grady Wilson: Oh I beg to differ with you, Lamont. Today is November 1, and it's extremely possible that November 6 is only five days away.
-Sanford & Son

Unfortunately, like Fred Sanford, this uncertain market is likely to be around with us for a while longer. There are too many structural and solvency related issues in Europe (see Why Europe Matters to US Stocks) and it's "extremely possible" they will rear their ugly heads in 2012. So buy and hold here probably won't work. Buy and sell? That will. Be nimble, and while this move (which is real and is based on the ECB relieving some, but not nearly all, of the funding pressures that were strangling the European financial markets lately) is nice, we're fast running into resistance headwinds here. Taking profits is the smart move.

If you waited until the XLF hit that $12.10/$12.20 support on Monday and bought the basket from last week (Citigroup (C), JP Morgan (JPM), US Bancorp (USB), PNC Financial (PNC), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Lazard (LAZ)), you're up about 10-13% in those names. Take the gain and go, and wait for the chance to do it again. When the "big one" in Europe reveals itself, then you can buy and hold – but only after the massive selloff. Until then, an itchy trigger finger is a good trigger finger.

Some stocks that are still sitting near their lows that look interesting are Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO), Covidien (COV), Cummins (CMI), and Freeport McMoran (FCX). They all have strong businesses and high returns on invested capital. Take a look.

The S&P 500 is rapidly approaching some significant resistance levels. The market seems fixated on the 200-day moving average around 1260. That also happens to be a level with a lot of resistance from November and early December. The odds favor a rollover there.

S&P 500 (SPX) Support and Resistance Levels:
Support: 1205/1210, then 1193/1195 and 1180/1182.
Resistance: 1260, then 1265/1266 and 1285/1287.

Enjoy the holidays!

Editor's Note: For more from Jeffrey Miller, please visit Miller's Market Musings.

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Positions in C, LAZ, CMI, TMO, FCX, COV. These could change at any moment.
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