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Tying Up a Tricky Two-Week Stretch for Stocks


Signs surround us as we map our forward path.


Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

Day 11.

Following two weeks that have been nothing short of surreal, the stock market-and many of those of us who trade it-are limping toward the weekend.

On Monday, following a dark time on the Eastern Seaboard, I penned The Post-Hurricane and Pre-Election Financial Markets. After holding down a fort full of kids with no power or heat, we cast an eye at the Beltway, forecast an Obama win, and noted that the S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) was churning under resistance as the VXO (^VXO) was basing above support, both of which were negative technical patterns.

On Tuesday, as folks made their way to the polls, we shared The Perfect Storm of the Presidential Election that spoke to the societal consequences of the storm and further negatives that had emerged in the marketplace (lower highs in the banks (INDEXDJX:BKX), the Russell (NYSEARCA:IWM) and the semiconductors (INDEXNASDAQ:SOX)), as well as the importance of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a leading indicator.

Later that same day, we wrote Positioning Into the Presidential Election-first (as always) on the Buzz, and a few hours later on MV Proper as it was an important column.

That missive weighed the positives and negative road signs in the marketplace before netting out that "Odds favor a downdraft tomorrow" while adding, "with a Nor'easter on the way and a powerless house in the 'burbs, my focus is on my family and my business-in that order-with my P&L a distant third."

We often say that if opportunity is our greatest cost, we should consider ourselves fortunate. I didn't slap on a massive short-side bet despite (what I perceived to be) 3-1 odds that we would see serious slippage; I focused on investments that have nothing to do with financial markets. This, of course, preceded the worst two-day decline of the year and yes, opportunities are made up easier than losses.

On Wednesday, after Bam secured another four years-and as the sovereign sequel to the first phase of the financial crisis flared-we wrote Trading the Presidential Election Results, which mapped stair-step support levels for the stock market, most notably S&P 1380 (the 200-day moving average) as THE line in the sand.

The S&P only tested this level once this year and after a false breakdown, it rallied 16.5% (into September), per the chart below.

So, where does that leave us, as people and market practitioners?

Tired and scruffy-but, speaking from personal experience, extremely appreciative for what I do have and all of the simple things I took for granted. While the storm(s) left a profound health, energy, and financial impact in its wake-and yes, for some, devastation entirely worse than that-it also provided perspective and enabled a bonding of sorts, be it within the family construct or amongst neighbors.

There's something about trying times that brings out the best in each of us, or that's how I've chosen to cope with this, my eleventh day without power and heat. One could make the case that this mindset should also extend to our "prolonged period of socioeconomic malaise," but that's a different discussion for another time.

Suffice to say that without TV or Internet at home, I've had plenty of time to reflect on what's truly important in life while rationing gas, feeding our fireplace, and tucking our displaced children into warm beds each night. Work to live, don't live to work, indeed.
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