"Not impossible." That's how Janet Yellen characterized the odds of a rate hike at the Fed's next meeting, after the Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged in an announcement yesterday.
So much for the rising tide of interest rates that investors were expecting after the Fed's first rate hike in more than a decade last December. Market participants are now pricing in less than a 50% chance for another rate hike by the end of 2016.
But instead of playing the interest rate hike guessing game, there's a clearer message being sent by some of the biggest stocks on Wall Street this week. As I write, some of the biggest stocks on Wall Street are teetering on the edge of "breakout territory," a fact that could spell big gains for market bulls in June.
To find the big-name breakouts to pay attention to this week, we're turning to the charts for a technical look at five large stocks that are showing bullish trades this week -- and when you should buy them.
First, a quick note on the technical toolbox we're using here: Technical analysis is 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.
Leading off our list of big-cap breakouts is $39 billion food company General Mills (GIS - Get Report) . General Mills has been forming a textbook breakout signal since April, bumping up against a key price level up at $65 three times now. With shares sitting just below that $65 price tag this week, it finally makes sense to look for a buy signal in June.
General Mills is currently forming a textbook ascending triangle pattern. The ascending triangle is formed by a horizontal resistance level up above shares (at the previously mentioned $65 level, in this case), and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as General Mills has ricocheted in between those two technically important price levels, shares have been getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout through our $65 price ceiling. When that breakout happens, we've got our buy signal.
Relative strength, which measures General Mills' price performance vs. the rest of the stock market, is the extra indicator to watch in this trade. That's because GIS' relative strength line is holding onto its uptrend since last fall, an indication that this big stock is still continuing to outperform the market. If you decide to buy here, support at the 50-day moving average looks like a logical place to park a protective stop.
We're seeing the exact same price setup right now in shares of $106 billion oil services stock Schlumberger (SLB - Get Report) . Like General Mills, Schlumberger is forming a textbook ascending triangle pattern, signaling a continuation to the uptrend that shares kicked off in the middle of January. For Schlumberger, the big breakout level to watch is resistance up at $80.
What's so special about the $80 level? It all comes down to buyers and sellers. Price patterns, like this ascending triangle setup in Schlumberger, are a good quick way to identify what's going on in the price action, but they're not the actual reason that makes the stock tradable. Instead, the "why" comes down to basic supply and demand for SLB's shares themselves.
The $80 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 been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That's what makes a breakout above $80 so significant -- the move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level.
Once Schlumberger manages to definitively move above $80, it's time to join the buyers.
Schlumberger is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable portfolio. "The company has done five tuck-in acquisitions thus far this year ... demonstrating management's willingness and ability to find assets to bolster the company's capabilities," Cramer and Research Director Jack Mohr wrote recently. They noted that "the environment will only improve for oilfield services as prices continue to rise."
Meanwhile, buyers have been totally absent in shares of Target (TGT - Get Report) for the last couple of months. Since Target peaked in April, this stock has shed more than 20% of its market value. That's the bad news. The good news is that shares are starting to carve out a bottom this summer. Here's how to trade it.
Target is currently forming a double bottom pattern, a bullish reversal setup that looks just like it sounds. The double bottom is formed by a pair of swing lows that bottom out at approximately the same price level -- the buy signal comes on a push through the peak that separates that pair of troughs. In Target's case, that happens at the $70 price level.
Price momentum, measured by 14-day RSI up at the top of the chart, is the side-indicator to watch right now in shares of Target. Our momentum gauge made higher lows corresponding with the stock's pair of price lows, a bullish divergence that signals buying pressure has been building this month. If Target can break above $70, it becomes time to buy.
Keep a close eye on this one. If shares start to fill the gap that was opened in late May, the up-move could happen very quickly.
"What the company lacks in top-line momentum it makes up for in cash-flow generation, balance sheet stability and a shareholder-friendly capital return program (multibillion-dollar annual buyback strategy and 3.6% dividend yield). We do view TGT's compelling dividend yield, which is expected to increase 5-10% annually, as safe. We believe the stock offers modest support at a 3.75% yield (or $64 a share) yet view a 4% yield (or $60 a share) as the most tangible support level. If shares happened to fall at or below $60 a share, we would consider the risk/reward compelling and likely add to our position. On the flip side, if shares happen to rally above $70, we would be sellers."
Archer Daniels Midland
The price action has been pretty straightforward in 2016 for $25 billion agriculture stock Archer Daniels Midland (ADM - Get Report) . As commodity prices have turned around this year, so too have ADM's fortunes, reversing the downtrend that harangued shares in 2015 and sending this stock higher in a well-defined price setup. The good news is that the trading pattern showing up on ADM's chart is about as simple as they get.
Since January, ADM has been bouncing its way higher in an uptrending channel, a setup formed by a pair of parallel trendlines that have corralled this stock's price action perfectly. So far, every test of the bottom of ADM's price channel has provided investors with a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to build a position in this stock. And as shares correct off the top of that price channel, they're making their way towards a fifth test of support. From here, it makes sense to buy the next bounce off of trendline support.
Actually waiting for that bounce is important for two key reasons: it's the spot where shares have the most room 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 the channel breaks, invalidating the upside trade).
Remember, all trend lines do eventually break, but by actually waiting for a bounce to happen first, you're ensuring ADM can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on shares.
Cognizant Technology Solutions
Last on the list of potential large-cap breakouts is $36 billion IT services stock Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH - Get Report) . Cognizant has been a choppy performer so far in 2016, and shares are still down slightly on the year; but zoom out on the chart, and shares start to take some direction. This summer, a classic reversal pattern is pointing to an up-move in this big tech company.
Since the end of last year, Cognizant has been forming an inverse head and shoulders pattern, a classic reversal pattern that indicates exhaustion among sellers. You can spot the pattern 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," which comes in at $63 in the case of Cognizant.
A push above Cognizant's $63 neckline implies a move up to new highs at $75. And shares are back within striking distance of breaking out in June. Once the $63 breakout does happen, be sure to park a protective stop on the other side of prior support down at $57.