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Watch Market From the Sidelines: Morning Call

NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- U.S. stock futures are pointing to a sharply lower open this morning following yesterday's afternoon plunge. S&P 500 futures are down about 2% as European markets took the cue from the weak American markets. Investors are far from convinced that the Fed's latest maneuver, Operation Twist, will be effective in propping up the slumping economy. Or, maybe they just think the headwinds are too strong.

More downbeat economic data out of China and Europe added to the pessimism this morning, with the German DAX 30 index down 4.3% right now. Gold and oil futures also dropped overnight as the dollar surged, all likely due to the lack of straightforward stimulus from the Fed. Amid all of the problems in Europe, the dollar is once again becoming a safe haven. The 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) continues to explode overnight, putting further pressure on equity markets.

As far as trading these markets, you certainly need to have a short attention span. Taking a contrarian approach at the extreme ends of this range has been the only thing that is working. These markets move fast, and there is a fine line between winning and losing. Tuesday's push through failure in the S&P -- and many leading stocks -- was the first clue that the oversold bounce had run its course.

Most experienced traders choose not to make bets in front of big economic announcements like the Fed, so you would have had to be quick on the trigger if you wanted to get short. Like we have seen over the last two months, the first big down day usually leads to a gap and further continuation the next.

Three of the sectors that we have highlighted for relative weakness in the Off the Charts newsletter over the past few weeks -- Oil Services HOLDRs ETF (OIH), the SPDR Materials ETF (XLB) and the SPDR Financials ETF (XLF) -- all led the markets lower yesterday. These sectors were showing extreme relative weakness well before the Fed spoke, and sold off more aggressively in the last hour.

Although last week's action put the bear flag pattern on hold, we still held within the range and the thesis is intact. It now appears likely that we break down from the channel, and many of these relatively weak ETFs are already doing so. During the head and shoulders formation that led to the breakdown around the time of the S&P-U.S. debt downgrade, these same sectors broke below their necklines first, also.
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XLB $44.17 1.40%
XLF $23.39 0.60%
OIH $32.01 1.94%
TLT $121.96 -0.84%
AAPL $109.50 -1.16%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,050.75 +138.46 0.82%
S&P 500 1,995.83 +15.91 0.80%
NASDAQ 4,810.7880 +19.6360 0.41%

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