SAN FRANCISCO -- "Everybody out of the pool" was the message from some of our crackerjack gurus today. But most investors needed no excuse to sell after the recent run-up. At least partially reflecting a mindset that stocks had run "too far, too fast," major market averages fell today, with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
down 0.5%, the
off 1.5% and the
Exhibit A in GuruVille being Thomas McManus, equity portfolio strategist at
Banc of America Securities
, who today lowered his recommended equity allocation to 60% from 65% and upped bonds to 35% from 30%. The remaining 5% stays in cash.
In reversing an upgrade to equities made on
March 19, McManus explained that the Fed's ease last week is "confirmation that the near-term economic trend is getting significantly tougher." This supports his view that the outlook for earnings remains dim. Additionally, the steepening of the
yield curve indicates either the economy is going to rebound soon (again, he is dubious) or that inflation risks are rising, the strategist stated. (McManus cited Gene Epstein's article about inflation in the current
, but didn't mention similarly inclined and
earlier articles here. If McManus repeats as
Guru of the Year, rest assured it's not because he sucked up to the judges.)
"Given the recent performance of stocks vis-a-vis bonds --
and especially given our earnings outlook -- it is our belief that for stocks to appreciate much further, they will need help from the bond market," he wrote.
Stocks did get some "help" from the bond market today, where the 10-year Treasury bond rose 23/32 to 98 17/32, its yield falling to 5.19%.
Exhibit B in GuruVille being Steve Hochberg, co-editor of
The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast
in Atlanta, who emailed Sunday to declare: "The next Fibonacci turn window has arrived."
For the uninitiated or memory impaired, so-called Fibonacci turn windows are chart patterns used to identify when short-term trend changes will occur, not which direction the market will go. The theory being whichever direction the market is going heading into the turn date, it will reverse course thereafter.
previously identified April 24 (plus or minus one trading day) as the next turn window, declared: "My confidence is very high that the market will top
this week and reverse its upward trend of the past four weeks."
Evoking the old adage that the wisest forecasters give time
price (but not both), Hochberg said the near-term outlook for the next turn window is murky -- meaning he's not currently forecasting how long the presumptive downturn will last. But he did predict the Nasdaq will hold above its April 4 intraday low of 1620. "Any break there indicates we are wrong in our near-term outlook and the index is in another leg of the bear" and could possibly revisit its 1998 low of 1357, he wrote.
But should the April 4 low hold, he expects the Comp to rise beyond its April 20 "recovery high" of 2203 in the next rally phase.
The rally "still has further to go," Hochberg stated, but he also believes it's "only a bear market rally."
Also noteworthy (again), is that
Elliott Wave Financial's
recent track record has been astounding: Faithful readers will recall that on
March 19, Hochberg predicted stocks likely would rally through the end of March until April 24, perhaps pausing only the first few trading days of April.
Being a self-described contrarian, Hochberg said he'd feel even better about the short-term market top call "if sentiment were a little more extreme on the bullish side."
Clearly, there's more skepticism about the recent rally compared with the one following the Fed's intermeeting rate cut on Jan. 3. In addition to McManus (among others),
Schaeffer's Investment Research
in Cincinnati also expressed some cynicism this morning. Consider it Exhibit C.
The folks at Schaeffer's noted that following Fed intermeeting rate cuts on Oct. 15, 1998, Jan. 3, 2001, and last week, each knee-jerk spike in the
S&P 100 Index
has been increasingly weaker in price and shorter in duration. Conversely,
call buying has increased on each successive intermeeting rate cut, with last Wednesday being a single-day record (suggesting Hochberg might already have the requisite bullishness).
"If the Fed's intent, at least in part, has always been to placate the stock market with these
intermeeting moves, then it seems that the market is starting to build up a tolerance to them,"
wrote, predicting a repeat of the post-January 2001 experience is more likely than the post-October 1998 movement. "The market may be becoming so acclimated to these shots in the arm that the next magic bullet fired by the Fed will turn out to be nothing more than a blank."
If that seems frightening, recall that on
March 26, the folks at Schaeffer's were cautioning about a potential "downward spike" for stocks. (All's fair in love and accountability, right?)
GuruVision: Exhibit D (for "Differing")
Optimists will no doubt take heart in the aforementioned skepticism, as well as the fact stocks fell today on modest volume. However, fairness dictates mentioning that Don Hays of
Hays Advisory Group
in Nashville, Tenn., expressed more
bullish views today (along with the usual gang of yammering permabulls).
Hays is sticking by a
recent prediction that the "new bull market" will be similar to what occurred in 1980, when stocks rallied sharply -- but only for about six to eight months. If market averages produce similar percentage gains, the Dow would tag 12,400, the S&P 1576 and the Comp 2752, he reported.
But the veteran market watcher sees short- and intermediate-term resistance as follows:
For the Dow, at 10,600 and 11,000;
For the S&P 500, at 1270 and 1340, and;
For the Comp at 2280 and 2640.
He forecast both most likely eventual upside and more optimistic targets as follows:
11,700 and 12,300 for the Dow;
1420 and 1600 for the S&P, and;
2280 and 3000 for the Comp.
last Wednesday I reported that Jim Rohrbach of
in Orlando, Fla., issued a buy call on the Nasdaq. Lost in the shuffle of the Fed's ease fallout was that on Thursday he issued a buy call on the
, reversing a sell indication adopted Feb. 23.
(For a GuruVision primer, check out
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to
Aaron L. Task.