Benchmark equity averages in Japan, China, India and Germany are trading below their lows set in 2015, and all four are in bear market territory.

The messages sent by lower U.S. Treasury bond yields, higher gold prices and the rally in utility stocks in the U.S. indicate investors want exposure in "flight to safety" strategies and dividend income. This is a clue to continue to sell strength in most other sectors of the stock market.

If you an an investor buying stocks because crude oil prices are moving higher, you are putting your portfolio on a slippery slope. Crude oil should continue to be influenced by a key level of $29.90 in play until the end of March.

By the numbers:

The 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) - Get Report , a basket of U.S. Treasury bonds with maturities of 20 to 30 years, is up 8.8% so far in 2016 while the S&P 500 I:GSPC down 5.6%. The bond exchange-traded fund has been trading back and forth around a key level of $132.45 since Feb. 10 and set its 2016 high of $135.25 on Feb. 11; the S&P 500 set its 2016 low of 1,810.10.

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) - Get Report , which is backed by gold bullion, is up 15.9% year to date, and this week's key level of $116.73 has been a magnet after a 2016 high of $120.84 set on Feb. 11.

The Dow utility average has a gain of 9.1% year to date and set its 2016 high of 631.17 on Wednesday, even as the major averages rebound on the recovery of oil prices.

Here's today's scorecard for the major equity averages around the globe followed by their daily charts and key levels.

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Here's the daily chart for Japan's Nikkei 225.


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The Nikkei 225 closed Thursday at 16,140.34, down 15.2% year to date and in bear market territory 23% below its multiyear high of 20,952.71 set on June 24. The horizontal lines are the Fibonacci Retracements of the decline from the multiyear high to the Sept. 29 low of 16.901.49. The Japanese benchmark has been below its 2015 low since Feb. 9. Investors are not happy with the Bank of Japan decision to employ a ridiculous negative interest rate policy.

Here's the daily chart for China's Shanghai Composite.


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The Shanghai Composite plunged 6.4% on Thursday to a close at 2,741.25, down 22.5% year to date and buried into bear market territory 47.1% below its multiyear high of 5,178.19 set on June 12. This put the Chinese benchmark back below Its Aug. 26 low of 2,850.71. Recent stimulation measures by the People's Bank of China continue to be ignored by Chinese investors.

Here's the daily chart for India's Nifty 50.


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The Nifty 50 closed Thursday at 6,970.60, down 12.3% year to date and in bear market territory 23.6% below its March 4, 2015 high of 9,119.20. India's benchmark has been below its Sept. 8 low of 7,539.50 since Feb. 2.

Here's the daily chart for Germany's Deutsche Boerse DAX.


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The German DAX moved back above its 2015 low of 9,325.05 on Feb. 17, then closed back below it on Feb. 24 and is attempting to recapture this key level on Thursday. The European Central Bank continues to pledge additional money printing but any bounce on ECB talk continues to be short-lived as investors lose confidence that negative interest rates and money printing will support economic growth.

Here's the daily chart for the S&P 500.


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The S&P 500 closed Wednesday at 1,929.80 down 5.6% year to date and just below correction territory 9.6% below its all-time high of 2,134.72 set on May 20. The benchmark for U.S. equities returned to its 23.6% Fibonacci Retracement from its all-time high to its Aug. 24 low of 1,867.01. From its 2016 low of 1,810.10 set on Feb. 11 this benchmark averages traded as high as 1,946.70 on Feb. 22, up 7.5% versus the 23.6% retracement of 1,930.22.

The overall neutral zone among the five major U.S. equity averages are influenced by the following key levels.

The Dow Jones Industrial AverageI:DJI shows a monthly key level of 16,181 at the low end, while the S&P 500 has a monthly key level of 1,940. 6 as a magnet.

The Nasdaq CompositeI:IXIC has been below its key level for February of 4,679 and its annual level of 4,248 helped stabilize the average at its 2016 low of 4,209.76 set on Feb. 11.

The Dow Jones Transportation Averageis trading between annual levels of 6,926 and 7,569. The Jan. 20 low of 6,403.31 was below the low annual level while the 2016 high was the year's opening price of 7,491.41, which is below the higher annual level.

The Russell 2000 has annual levels of 938.79 and 1,042.61 versus the 2016 low of 943.10 set on Feb. 11 and its 2016 high of 1,134.07 was set as 2016 began.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.