Heed the Advance-Decline Reading

When losers outpace gainers in the market, Cramer says don't bother. It's too hard to pick a winner in these conditions.
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When is this darned advance-decline line going to stop telling us the truth? When is it going to start sugar coating things and make us feel better? Why doesn't it want to go with the euphoric flow and turn positive?

Whenever I get carried away, as it was possible when the market was up 44 points today and the bonds looked like they were going to turn up, I look at the A-D line. That is the health of the market. The A-D line is the blood pressure and the temperature. When it is good, I want to be in there taking stocks on any weakness. When it is healthy, say 2 to 1, I don't even want to know what the bears are saying for fear they will confuse me.

But when it is unhealthy, spewing off 150 over 100 and 105 degree readings, I say, why bother? Too hard. Wait. There will be better times.

Right now there are 12 up for every 16 down. (Reflecting the slumping bonds as many stocks are interest-rate sensitive.) That means the odds of my picking a winner just aren't that great. Better times await.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.