Today's tug-of-war on the Nasdaq Composite Index went a lot better for the weary, straining bulls than it looked like it would this morning. With some of the turnaround "tells" strategists have named bouncing back as of midsession, one might have thought the market had finally established a bottom off of which it would go for a lasting bounce.
Not so fast.
Traders said a mix of buyers rushed in when the Nasdaq slipped below its previous closing low for the year to buy up depressed shares of tech stocks. They also felt that the semiconductor group's turnaround was a good sign that could be a tell, or signal, sparking a broader recovery.
But traders are from Missouri on this one -- you'll have to show them more than a day's rebound for them to get comfortable. And indeed, it looks like today's rebound is proving awfully ephemeral.
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
, also known as the SOX, was lately down 0.2% to 705 after falling almost 40% between early September and Tuesday. The sector has been battered by concerns of a slowdown in chip demand. The SOX traded as high as 741.18 around 12:40 p.m. EDT.
The Nasdaq, meanwhile, flirted heavily with a bounce but lately cooled as well. It was up as much as 17.70 to 3258.24 around 2 p.m. EDT, although it was lately back in the red, off 64 to 3169. At its intraday low of 3103.53, set around 11:20 a.m. EDT, the Nasdaq was off 36% from its highs for the year and had fallen below its 2000 closing low of 3164.55, set May 23.
Volume might even be good enough to indicate a traditional bottom. Usually, a bottom is formed when the stench of fear becomes so strong that volume and losses accelerate to the downside. Often called "capitulation," this can create a v-shaped bottom off of which stocks can bounce back. Nasdaq trading volume for the day lately totaled 1.9 billion shares. The last time the market bottomed, in late May, trading volume rose to over 2 billion shares. Tuesday, Nasdaq volume totaled 1.8 billion shares.
"It's pretty good volume," said Peter Green, market analyst at
Gerard Klauer Mattison
. "More importantly, some individual stocks are showing a lot of draw, like
Semis Rebound ... or Do They?
A massive 104 million shares of Intel had traded by midafternoon. The semiconductor bellwether was down 5.5% on the day and has lost over half of its value since late August.
Green also likes the
call ratio. "The
Chicago Board Options Exchange put-call ratio is 258, and anything over 175 is considered bullish," he said. "I'm encouraged." A high put-to-call ratio often indicates that bearishness has reached such an excessive point that a turn higher is likely, which is why Green called it bullish.
But after so many disappointing attempts at bounces in the past month and a half, traders weren't willing to bet that it would last.
they bet on? Traders said they might be convinced by an up close for semiconductor stock
Advanced Micro Devices
tomorrow, after the company reports earnings tonight, and two days of up closes on the SOX.
"Everybody knows AMD is going to have a bad report," said Green. "If AMD shows a bottoming day tomorrow and closes higher, that's the big one. The semiconductors are trying to bottom. If we can have a high-profile group that's been smashed and a weak-numbered stock turn around, then that would be good."
Holly Liss, market strategist at
in Chicago, also wanted some more reassurance. "The SOX is up 2%. But I need to see it close up here and for two days straight," she said. "It could be a leader because we do see the Nasdaq up, but the market has come off so much, so dramatically ...
it's going to need to be up for more than one day."
And after so many earnings disappointments and so much downward action, some thought it might be a while before the market turns.
"It's going to take a little bit more correction, pain, more soul searching," said Doug Myers, vice president of equity trading at
in Atlanta. "We'll probably going to have to get all the way through the earnings season and sort through the bodies."
Despite his optimism, Peter Green thought it might take nothing less than the
"One of the Fed governors has to come out and say we've done enough
interest-rate hikes," he said. "The stock market indices are indicating that, but we need them to come out and say it."