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I heard several folks express how terrific they thought it was that "the market" has held up so well during all the goings-on in Washington. I am always curious when I hear that because I wonder if they mean "the indexes" or "the market." If they mean the indexes, then I get it. If they mean the market, as in the majority of stocks, then, well, I think they have no idea what they are doing or saying.
There is no way you can look at the action in the transports and think the market is OK. There is no way you can look at the action in the small-caps and think the market is OK. There is no way you can look at the collapse in the financials -- and for the most part no real bounce -- and think the market is OK.
And tell me, how can you look at the retailers or the oils and say the market is OK?
The only thing that is OK or, more appropriately, hasn't gone down is some (not all) technology. I can throw in some (not all) health care. And then there are the major indexes. They have held up well, which means the majority of big-cap indexy stocks have held up well, too. I have referred to them as the generals.
But let's stop and consider this for a minute. The put/call ratio on Thursday jumped mightily to 113%, the highest reading in a few weeks. So that tells me complacency is leaking out of the market. The 10-day moving average of the put/call ratio is still rising (bearish for stocks), but look at the chart. And consider that if we have another move down (my expectation), that moving average is sure to rise quickly, don't you think? Spikes in this indicator tend to coordinate with decent lows in the market.
Yesterday I discussed the Volume Indicator and noted it is in the upper 40s and a move down to the low 40s makes it intermediate-term oversold. So once again, wouldn't another push down in the market from here take that to an oversold level?
We've discussed the VIX a few times in the last week or so. I have noted each time that unless and until it gets jumpy, I have no view on it. But take a look at it now and ask yourself: If the indexes have another push down, don't you think the VIX will look like it's breaking out? And when the VIX looks like it's breaking out, it gets jumpy. And jumpy means there is fear in the market. Just look at late October/early November.
Now look at my Overbought/Oversold Oscillator. It's moved from oversold to overbought with very little price movement in the market. We've discussed this before and noted it's not overall bullish for the market when we work an oversold reading off without a real rally. But if the market turns down in the next week, this oscillator will turn down too and then maybe we'll even have the chance for a lower low in the S&P and a higher low in the oscillator (a positive divergence).
My point in this entire exercise is that "the market" holding up is not helping things. Another trip down moves us closer to a setup that gets us to a good oversold condition -- or should get us there. Will all this wrangling in D.C. get the market (the indexes, really) to play catch-up on the downside? I don't know but you can be sure if the market comes down and the folks in D.C. disappoint, the narrative will be, "Blame it on the politicians." And that may offer us an opportunity. I continue to be patient.
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At the time of publication, Meisler had no positions in the stocks mentioned.