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"This, too, shall pass," Jim Cramer told his Mad Money viewers Friday after another big down day on Wall Street. But until then, keep your powder dry, your head clear and sell your weakest stocks into any strength.
Cramer said the market's selloff isn't as rapid or onerous as it appears. Stocks have actually been in decline for a while now, but much of that weakness was masked by a few high-flying companies. Now it's clear for all to see that the market wants to go lower, and even good news doesn't matter.
While Cramer was able to check off a few items on his "must have before we rally" checklist Thursday, all of those checkmarks disappeared today. The Chinese market slid, oil prices plummeted, earnings evaporated and the Federal Reserve let its governors talk publicly about raising interest rates again.
With all of those headwinds, it's no wonder the markets plunged at the open. That's why Cramer wants viewers to sit tight and wait.
Off the Charts
In a Friday edition of his "Off The Charts" segment, Cramer went head to head with colleague Marc Sebastian over the chart of CBOE Volatility Index, better known by it's ticker symbol, the "VIX," to see when this selloff might finally come to an end.
Sebastian first compared a chart of the S&P 500 versus the VIX going back to August, noting that back then the selloff was bigger, faster and scarier, with the VIX spiking into the mid-50s. Following the initial spike, the VIX then remained high for weeks.
But Sebastian also noted the current run-up in the VIX isn't close to the mid-50s, but closer to the small spike we saw in mid-December. The fear seems to be ramping up slowly and steadily as the S&P falls.
That indicated to Sebastian, and Cramer, that the markets still have lower to go before a bottom is found. There will likely be no quick V-shaped bottom either, given how slowly things are winding down.