If I've learned anything in this business, it's that the market teaches you something new every day. And since the market is always right, the best thing we can do is learn from it. We can't teach the market anything new; it's already a lot smarter than we are.
So often in my career, I've anticipated a rally and gotten a huge burst to the upside (just enough to make me think I'm smarter than the market) -- only to watch the market give it all back in the next few days (and show me who's boss!). Countless times when this occurred, I would give in to the decline, wondering how I could've gotten sucked in like that, muttering to myself that I should've just stayed negative.
It would happen like this: I would think the correction or downleg or sideways action was done, and I would pick up the phone and buy some stocks. We'd get a day or so of rallying, enough to make me feel good. Then boom: As easily as it went up, it would give it right back. And the worst part of it was that those trusty indicators that had pointed me in that bullish direction would hold up at first into the decline, keeping me in. Then they would have one awful day in which the statistics would fall apart, and that's when I would think that I had jumped the gun by turning bullish and hurry to sell what I had just bought for fear of losing lots of money.
What then, you wonder? Invariably the market would rally almost immediately after my sell orders were filled. The market had done its job ... it had shaken me out just before the rally took off. By then, I was so whipsawed that I would just sit there paralyzed and watch the market go up without me. That's what the market does best: It shakes out the weak holders.
Each time this would happen, I would vow to learn from my mistake and not let it happen again. While I'm happy to report it happens with less frequency these days (some might call it experience; I call it age), I must admit I am as prone to a shake-out as anyone, which is why this time I've stayed long into the current market shake-out.
Until Thursday's action, the market was holding up relatively well into the decline this week. At least the advance/decline line was performing well. In fact, Wednesday's big decline in the
found the A/D line with only a -600. For perspective: Since the correction began in early January, we've had several similar types of declines in the averages, and this was the first time the A/D line wasn't -900 or worse. That's positive action.
Then came Thursday's decline. I promised I would be the first to yell and scream if the statistics turned awful. They were definitely not good on Thursday. The A/D was awful at -934, and with only 12 stocks making new highs, how could you like 'em? Oh, and don't forget the awful performance of the utilities and the transports, which gave back their ill-gotten gains from Wednesday. When I saw those numbers, I figured that individual stock charts would look stinko.
But I was wrong.
So often while posting my charts, I had to remind myself that yesterday was a big down day. There were so many charts in my pile (I post about 150 stocks) that were up or closed close to their highs of the day that I went back a second time to be sure the statistics were correct. They were correct. But the individual stock charts have been given the chance to fall apart this week, and they didn't.
Take the banks, for example. If rates are backing up, they should not be holding up. But no, at 5.6% on the 30-year bond, these stocks were flat or rallied!
closed up and on its high for the day.
all came back from the downside. And most interesting is
, with its huge interest-rate connection, bouncing off support and closing a buck off its low.
also did quite well.
Banks weren't the only upside participants.
was up nicely on the day. And
, which has had a droopy chart for some time now, has refused to go down this week and instead was up yesterday.
Procter & Gamble
, which has been sliding all week, decided to halt its slide yesterday.
also chose Thursday to stop sliding.
was down on very light volume and can be bought into this dip. If this market was truly awful,
would've given up its recent run rather easily, but it didn't; I still like the chart.
is still a great big base.
looks fine into this dip. And
is the big base in tech land.
If the market's current decline accelerates and individual stock charts begin to roll over, I will throw in the towel. However, as long as the positive-looking stock charts are coming down on lighter-than-normal volume, I will stand my ground and try not be shaken out this time. I'm doing my best to learn from the market.
Helene Meisler, based in Singapore, writes a technical analysis column on the U.S. equity markets for TheStreet.com Tuesdays and Fridays. At the time of publication, she had a position in Nike, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Meisler trained at several Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs and Cowen, and has worked with the equity trading department at Cargill. She appreciates your feedback at KPMHSM@aol.com.