Major averages hesitated on the road to higher prices Monday, providing an opportunity to check the signpost known as sentiment. Notwithstanding recent gains and excitement in some circles, doubt seemingly springs eternal, which has bullish implications if sentiment truly is a contrarian indicator.

As reported here , and elsewhere, last week was a watershed for shares, at least on a technical front. Among the technical accomplishments, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended above its March closing high, creating a bullish signal for devotees of Dow Theory as it "confirmed" the recent breakout by the Dow Jones Transportation Average. Similarly, the S&P 500 eclipsed its April 23 high of 919.70, breaking above its long-term downtrend line. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite surpassed 1500 for the first time since June 18.

Conventional wisdom suggests any one of those developments would be viewed as bullish by even casual followers of technical analysis. The combination of three -- each one "confirming" the bullish message of the others -- is a veritable jackpot. Therefore, one would have expected a rush of bullishness this week as erstwhile naysayers covered shorts, money poured in from the proverbial sidelines and momentum traders sought to extend recent trends.

Clearly, that wasn't the case Monday as the Dow dipped 0.6%, the S&P shed 0.4% and the Comp rose a mere 0.1%.

Against the backdrop of that relatively subdued session, and last week's technical "breakout," I was struck by the negative tone from various "gurus" Monday. In sum, the recent advance has not caused many bears to change their stripes while some heretofore optimistic strategists are seeing warning signs.

Pigs Get Slaughtered

In the latter category, Charles Biderman, president of TrimTabs.com Investment Research in Santa Rosa, Calif., recently declared a new bull market has begun, as reported here on April 25 . But Monday, Biderman reported turning "cautiously bearish," noting a slowdown in corporate buybacks and cash takeovers, and accompanying increase in stock offerings.

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