BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Janet Yellen didn't exactly give away the keys to the castle during her two-day congressional testimony this week. Instead, her comments were remarkably unremarkable. Call them predictable. Good thing, too.
Predictable is just what investors want in a Fed chief, and that's a big part of why U.S. markets were able to hold onto their highs yesterday afternoon.
Even though the big market indices broke through uncharted territory in yesterday's session, the price action hasn't exactly been all-or-nothing. In fact, more than 200 of the S&P 500's components actually ended yesterday's session lower than they started, a head nod to the fact that stock picking still matters a lot in this market.
The good news is that it's not that difficult to decipher which names you want to own here -- and some of Wall Street's biggest names are in breakout mode. To take a closer look at them, we're turning to the charts for a technical look.
First, a little on the technical toolbox we're using here: technicals are a study of the market itself. Since the market is ultimately the only mechanism that determines a stock's price, technical analysis is a valuable tool even in the roughest of trading conditions. Technical charts are used every day by proprietary trading floors, Wall Street's biggest financial firms, and individual investors to get an edge on the market. And research shows that skilled technical traders can bank gains as much as 90% of the time.
Every week, I take an in-depth look at big names that are telling important technical stories. Here's this week's look at five big stocks to trade this week.
Up first is food and beverage giant PepsiCo (PEP) . The last time we looked at PepsiCo, things were looking pretty good -- and shares have moved about 4% and change in the intervening weeks. But Pepsi could be about to make a more meaningful move higher. This blue chip has been evolving into a classic bullish trade.
PepsiCo is currently forming an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish price setup that's formed by horizontal resistance above shares (in this case at $100) and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as PEP bounces in between those technically important price levels, it's been getting squeezed closer to a breakout above that $100 price ceiling. A breakout above that psychologically-significant round number is our buy signal.
Relative strength is the side-indicator to watch in shares of PepsiCo right now. Our relative strength line has been un an uptrend of its own going back to the beginning of last year, an indication that PEP isn't just moving up, it's also outperforming the broad market in good times and bad ones.
As long as relative strength keeps trending higher, PEP should keep outperforming the S&P.
We're seeing the exact same setup in shares of off-price retailer TJX (TJX) right now. Like PEP, TJX is currently forming an ascending triangle pattern, in this case with resistance just below $70. TJX announced earnings yesterday, ending the session just below that $70 breakout level. A move above that price is the buy signal to watch for.
Why all of that significance at that $70 level? It all comes down to buyers and sellers. Price patterns, like this ascending triangle in TJX, are a good quick way to identify what's going on in the price action, but they're not the actual reason a stock is tradable. Instead, the "why" comes down to basic supply and demand for TJX's stock.
The $70 resistance level is a price where there has been an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it's a spot where sellers have previously been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That's what makes a breakout above $70 so significant -- the move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level. After $70 gets taken out, the 50-day moving average is a logical place to park a protective stop.
South Korean financial stock Woori Bank (WF) has been in selloff mode lately, shedding around 12% of its market value since November. WF is starting to show inklings of a reversal as we head into March. Here's how to trade it.
WF is currently forming a rounding bottom pattern, a bullish reversal pattern that looks just like it sounds. The setup indicates a gradual shift in control from sellers to buyers, and it triggers on a move through resistance at $26.25. It's worth noting that a breakout through that $26.25 level would coincide with a break of the downtrend that's harangued shares for the last few months.
Don't get thrown off by the abundance of gaps on Woori Bank's chart right now. Those gaps, called suspension gaps, are caused by overnight trading on the Korea Exchange. They can be ignored for trading purposes.
Marvell Technology Group
Shareholders of Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) have been pretty happy lately. That's because this $8 billion semiconductor stock has been in rally mode since last October, rallying more than 34% off of its lows during that stretch. And shares are pointing higher still in the near-term; Marvell has been a "buy-the-dips stock," and this mid-February retracement is another low-risk buying opportunity.
You don't need to be an expert technical analyst to figure out what's happening in MRVL right now. A quick glance at the chart tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Marvell's price action has been bounced by a pair of parallel trend lines that have identified the high-probability range for shares to stay within. Put simply, every test of trend line support has been an opportunity to buy, and shares are bouncing off of that support line this week.
Now that the bounce has happened, it makes sense to buy.
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 MRVL can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on shares.
The 50-day moving average has been a decent proxy for support on the way up. That makes it a logical place to park a stop loss order.
Last on our list is retailer J.C. Penney (JCP) , a stock that's been in rebound mode in 2015. Shares are up 38% year-to-date following a pretty nasty year-end price crash at the end of 2014. The good news is that it's not too late to buy JCP this week. Shares are still looking "bottomy" here.
JCP is currently forming an inverse head and shoulders pattern. You can spot the inverse head and shoulders by looking for two swing lows that bottom out around the same level (the shoulders), separated by a bigger trough called the head; the buy signal comes on the breakout above the pattern's "neckline" level (that was the $8.45 level in JCP). With the breakout confirmed yesterday, it makes sense to buy today.
JCP's buy signal is getting confirmed by momentum right now. Our momentum gauge, 14-day RSI at the top of the chart, has been in a steady uptrend since the pattern started forming in October, even while Penney's price was making lower lows in the setup's head. That's a signal that buying pressure is still building in this stock.
J.C. Penney has been a fairly volatile name overall in the last year. Keep a tight stop in place if you decide to buy this breakout.
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.