The 2Q Bull vs. Bear Debate Rages On

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 indices have been a drag on the major equity averages since early March. The Russell 2000 set an all-time intraday high at 1212.82 on March 4 while the Nasdaq set a multiyear intraday high at 4371.71 on March 7.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Transportation Average continued higher setting all-time intraday highs in April: Dow industrials at 16631.63 on April 4 with the S&P as high as 1897.28 on the same day. Dow transports continued to set all-time highs with the latest at 7774.58 on April 23.

Despite the bullish fanfare, Dow industrials, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 are down year to date by 0.5%, 0.7% and 1.7%, respectively. The S&P 500 is up just 1.6% with Dow transports up 4.2%.

The year-to-date leaders are not among the five major averages. For instance, the PHLX Semiconductors (SOX) is up 10.6% for the year to date, setting a multiyear intraday high at 601.40 on April 3.

To the surprise of Wall Street, the Dow utilities leads with a gain of 11.3% so far in 2014, setting a 52-week intraday high at 550.08 on April 17 versus its all-time intraday high set at 555.71 in January 2008.

The second quarter thus began as the first quarter ended: a choppy and volatile trading pattern influenced by numerous pivots from our proprietary analytics. I have described our value levels, pivots and risky levels as a "tangled bowl of spaghetti" at the beginning of the year and this type of trading continues in the second quarter.

At the end of March we had new monthly and quarterly levels for April. The second quarterly, semiannual and annual levels are still in play.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is above its monthly pivot at 16297 while the S&P 500 tested its monthly risky level at 1895.6 at the April 4 all-time high. Monthly risky levels have not been tested at 4446 Nasdaq, 7812 Dow transports and 1211.52 on the Russell 2000.

The major equity averages straddle quarterly levels: 16462 for the Dow industrials; 1853.5, S&P 500; 4039, Nasdaq; 7407, Dow transports; and 1169.22, Russell 2000.

Semiannual value levels are: 3930 and 3920, Nasdaq; with semiannual pivots at 16245, Dow industrials; 1797.3 and 1764.4, S&P 500; 7376 and 7245, Dow transports; semiannual pivots at 1130.79 and 1133.29, Russell 2000; and a semiannual risky level at 16860, Dow industrials.

The bears will win the debate given a weekly close below 3920 on the Nasdaq while the bulls win with the Dow industrials above 16860.

If the bears win the bull vs. bear debate, which I believe will be the case, the downside risk is to annual value levels at 14835 and 13467, Dow industrials; 1539.1 and 1442.1, S&P 500; 3471 and 3063, Nasdaq; 6249 and 5935, Dow Transports; and 966.72 and 879.39, Russell 2000,

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff

Richard Suttmeier is the chief market strategist at ValuEngine.com.

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