Investors are feeling rattled.
After going nowhere but up for months, U.S. markets are dropping for a second day Tuesday. As we write, the big Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.06% -- if the big index ends the session here, it would be the biggest single-day drop since last August.
That says a lot more about the intensely calm market conditions we've enjoyed for the last half-year or so than it does about the size of Tuesday's price decline. At the moment, the Dow is still up 5.96% on a total returns basis so far in January, a breakneck-paced rally that would put the market on track to post 93.5% gains for the full 2018 calendar year if they kept up.
In that context, the "selloff" looks a whole lot less concerning.
That doesn't mean that you should take your eyes off the road here, however. While the vast majority of Dow components look stellar right now, there are a couple of exceptions. Two Dow stocks are waving big red flags here -- own them at your own peril.
To figure out the key levels in these Dow laggards, we're turning to the charts for a technical look.
General Electric Co.
Leading things off is General Electric Co. (GE) . As a business, GE may be an industrial powerhouse, but it's also been an awful stock for the past year, shedding more than 46% of its market value in the trailing 12 months. Now, as we head toward February, GE looks predisposed to keep on selling lower.
Heading into 2018, GE was attempting to carve out a base just above the $17.50 level, a price tag that signaled the do-not-cross zone for shares. That zone got violated early in January, and shares have plunged another 10% or so in the intervening weeks. That $17.50 breakdown was an important signal that buyers had fled a price zone that was previously looked at as a buying opportunity. Now, with that support level taken out, more downside is the high-probability trade in GE.
A long-term parabolic downtrend remains in effect in this stock - as long as that remains the case, GE is a Dow stock you don't want to own.
Procter & Gamble
We're seeing a similar price trajectory in another major blue chip -- consumer products firm Procter & Gamble (PG) .
While P&G's price trajectory isn't quite as bad as GE's right now, it's been a colossal underperformer year-to-date, shedding more than 8% of its market value while the rest of the averages rallied. Zooming out to the long term, P&G's price trend isn't terrible; shares are holding onto a shallow uptrend over the last year and change, but it's in a correction regime within that trend right now.
Relative strength, the gauge down at the bottom of P&G's chart, adds some extra context to this stock's rally. Relative strength has been trending lower over the last year, signaling that while Procter & Gamble's stock price is higher than it was a year ago, this stock is systematically underperforming the rest of the S&P 500.
As long as that remains the case, PG is a trade to avoid in this market environment.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.