A 4.5% correction in the S&P 500 could hold the keys to another meaningful leg higher in the final stretch of 2019.
Without a doubt, 2019 has been a banner year for the stock market so far. Since the calendar flipped to January, the S&P 500 index is up more than 20.5% on a total returns basis, the best year-to-date run up in more than two decades.
But as investors grow anxious about how much further the broad market could possibly run this year, the price action is sending some potentially bullish signals for to final months of 2019. Maybe surprisingly, more upside becomes a lot more likely if we see a 4.5% correction in the broad market in the next couple of weeks.
To figure out what's going on - and how to trade it - we're turning to the charts for a technical look.
At a glance, it's not hard to see that 2019's uptrend has mostly been extraordinarily well-defined, following the rebound rally back in January. From February on, every test of trendline support along the way has brought on a bounce higher.
The trend has been about as basic as it gets.
I've been saying it for a while now, but we're still in a "buy the dips market".
One thing to note is the fact that the trendline on the chart above is based on the swing low that precedes the ultimate bottom from the December selloff, rather than the December lows. That's often a more effective way to define a trend following a highly emotional and particularly rough selloff like the one we experienced in December - and it's been a relevant level ever since.
(Note: In the longer-term, that December low does synch up with the primary uptrend in the S&P 500.)
While the S&P failed to make a meaningful new high on its latest test of resistance earlier this month, that's hardly cause for alarm at this point. Near term, a correction to the 2,850 level in the S&P looks likely within the context of the trend channel we're currently in - that's around a 4.5% correction from current levels.
More importantly, a pullback to that 2,850 level sets the stage for a re-test of all-time highs before year-end.
So long as this market continues making higher lows along trendline support, it makes sense to buy those bounces.
Longer term, the primary uptrend in the S&P 500 has been incredibly reliable - and it continues to look bullish. Simply put, it looks like this market has more gas in the tank.
While it's still crucial to keep risk management in check here, the relatively short distance between current levels for the broader market and trendline support mean that if the bulls are wrong about stocks' staying power in 2019, they won't have to wait long (or forfeit a large move to the downside) to find out.
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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.