BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The S&P 500 shed more 0.74% in yesterday's session -- the biggest single-day drop in a month -- on news that Russia was moving troops into the Ukraine amid escalating protests in the European nation. But as bad as things looked for U.S. markets, they were a lot worse overseas.
The EuroSTOXX 50 lost 3% on the day. Turkey's BIST 100 dropped more than 2%. And Russia's MICEX Index shed a whopping 10.8% on what amounted to a massive flight to quality away from the country's equities.
It's not just national borders that are getting defensive right now; you need to be getting defensive with the names you own in your portfolio right now too. By and large, the U.S. market is one of the best-looking stock markets globally, but some long-ignored countries are starting to heat up again.
So today, we're taking a closer technical look at trading Ukraine's crisis with three global markets worth buying this week -- and two you should avoid at all costs.
For the unfamiliar, technical analysis is a way for investors to quantify qualitative factors, such as investor psychology, based on a stock's price action and trends. Once the domain of cloistered trading teams on Wall Street, technicals can help top traders make consistently profitable trades and can aid fundamental investors in better planning their stock execution.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five technical setups worth trading now.
First up, we'll cut to the chase with a look at the Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX). This fund tracks a basket of big Russian equities -- and it's the most investable way for U.S. investors to get access to Moscow's market. Here's why you should stay the heck away from it.
RSX has shown some better performance than other large Russian equities indices have (take the MICEX, for example), but after shares' big breakdown yesterday, that's cold comfort to anyone who owns this stock. Coming into yesterday, $24.50 was the support level to watch. Then shares of the ETF gapped down big at the open, breaking down below that level immediately. That's the sell signal.
Relative strength versus the S&P 500 has been in a downtrend since the end of 2013, signaling that even without this week's key breakdown, you wouldn't want to own this ETF. So while global bargain-hunters may be tempted to buy RSX's move lower, buyers would be better served avoiding that temptation.
Not all European markets are looking rough right now. Take Germany, for instance. German stocks have been rallying hard alongside the S&P 500; in the last year, the two big national indices have basically tied in performance. But the trade in the iShares MSCI Germany ETF (EWG) looks especially bullish as we head into March.
EWG is currently forming an inverse head and shoulders pattern, a bullish setup that indicates exhaustion among sellers. The pattern is formed by two swing lows that bottom out around the same level (the shoulders), separated by a deeper low (the head). The buy signal comes on a move through the neckline, which is right at $32. Even though shares of EWG corrected pretty hard in yesterday's session, the move lower makes a lot of sense in the context of this trade.
On the emerging markets front, things are starting to look up in Turkey. Make no mistake, it hasn't been a good idea to own Turkish equities for the last year; over those trailing 12 months, the country's equity market has dropped by almost 40%. But long-suffering owners could be in for a reprieve, because this market looks "bottomy." Our investable proxy for Turkish stocks is the iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR).
TUR is currently forming a double bottom, a price pattern that's formed by two swing lows that bottom out at approximately the same price level. The buy signal comes on a breakout above the $45 resistance level that separates the lows. The fact that a lot of traders are eyeing the Turkish market right now for geopolitical reasons adds to the upside implications if $45 gets taken out.
Momentum, measured by 14-day RSI, adds some extra upside potential to the Turkey trade. Our momentum gauge has been in an uptrend since the first bottom got put in back in late January. Even though momentum is a leading indicator of price, don't touch this trade until TUR demonstrates that it can catch a bid above $45.
Brazil continues to be a poster child for emerging market equity markets in 2014. The combination of a complex economy (whose largest trading partner is China), a volatile currency, and large-cap companies trading on the Bovespa make Brazil an ideal trading vehicle for anyone looking for low correlations with the S&P. And after a serious rut in the last year, Brazil's looking bullish again.
You don't have to be an expert technical analyst to see why. All it takes is a chart of the iShares MSCI Brazil ETF (EWZ).
EWZ spent the last six months in a downtrending channel, bouncing lower in a high-probability range between a pair of parallel trend lines. But that downtrend broke in the middle of last month, giving way to a narrow uptrend. Even though EWZ's uptrend has been short-lived so far, it's been very well-defined by a trend line support level that's acted as a price floor for shares on their last three attempts lower. Now, it makes sense to buy the next bounce off of support.
Waiting to buy off a support bounce makes sense for two big reasons: it's the spot where shares have the furthest to move up before they hit resistance, and it's the spot where the risk is the least (because shares have the least room to move lower before you know you're wrong). Remember, all trend lines do eventually break, but by actually waiting for the bounce to happen first, you're ensuring EWZ can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on shares.
Mexico has been a tough market for traders over the course of the last year. Our neighbor to the south has dealt with its own share of political and financial dramas, all of which injected uncertainty into the markets and relegated this country's stocks into a sideways churn. In the last six months, for instance, the iShares MSCI Mexico ETF (EWW) has only budged a whopping 3.44%.
But EWW is living up to its name after a critical breakdown last week.
Shares of EWW slipped through a key support level at $60.50 in the middle of last week, a move that signals it's time to sell Mexican stocks if you haven't already. Whenever you're looking at any technical price pattern, it's critical to keep buyers and sellers in mind. Pattern names are a good way to quickly describe what's going on in a stock, but they're not the reason it's tradable instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.
That horizontal $60.50 support level in EWW was the spot where there had previously been an excess of demand for shares; in other words, it's a price where buyers were more eager to step in and buy shares at a lower price than sellers were to sell. That's what makes last week's breakdown below support so significant -- the move means that sellers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess demand at the at price level.
Fundamentally, Mexican equities are looking very cheap right now, but don't look for bargains in Mexican stocks this March. This market has further to fall.
To see this week's trades in action, check out the Technical Setups for the Week portfolio on Stockpickr.
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.