Editor's Note: This column is a special bonus for TheStreet.com readers. This piece originally appeared on RealMoney today, and we're giving you a sneak peek at the entire column. To sign up for RealMoney, where you can read Helene Meisler's commentary regularly, please click here for a free trial. The most bullish indicator about this market is the breadth, which has been nothing short of excellent. The volume relationship has been good, but not as bullish as the advance/decline line. Then there are the number of new highs. I can't really complain about the Nasdaq, despite big tech's laggards ( Microsoft, Oracle, and others). Breadth and new highs on the Nasdaq have been plugging right along with the average. The New York Stock Exchange is a different story, though. So before I continue with what's good about this market, I'll share with you one indicator that's been bothering me for about 10 days now.
On April 22, the S&P 500 closed at 911. That day, 194 issues made 52-week highs -- nothing to complain about. Of course, many NYSE securities aren't actually common stocks. For that reason, I keep separate statistics on only the common stocks, and I found something interesting: The number of common stocks setting new highs totaled 104, which was also bullish. The next day began to trouble me. That day, the S&P rose another eight points and closed on its high for the day. The total number of securities making new highs was 194 again. Why wasn't that good? Because a reading where the new highs indicator doesn't expand is a warning sign that stocks are tired. I didn't make much of a fuss on April 24 about this indicator, mostly because the common stocks reading tacked on two additional stocks, making that number increase to 106. Not much of an improvement, but at least it was higher than the previous day's. Then the market milled around for a week and eventually pushed higher. On Friday the S&P closed at 930, but the number of NYSE securities making new highs totaled 179. There's nothing bullish about that. Among the common stocks, only 78 made new highs.