"The only way to keep from going backward is to keep going forward. Eternal vigilance is the price of success."
--Charles F. Hannel
If the S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY - Get Report) , SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA - Get Report) and PowerShares Nasdaq ETF (QQQ - Get Report) wanted to correct, the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma that is approaching southern Florida this weekend would be a good excuse. However, this market has ridden a wave of optimism since the election and it continues to do so. Bad news just does not take hold. The headlines about a nuclear bomb test in North Korea hit the market for half a day, then were shrugged off. The hurricane in Houston barely caused a market reaction and the political games in Washington, D.C. are more positive than negative.
The bears continue to believe that this market is on the verge of disaster and they supply some very good arguments. Hurricanes, hawkish central banks, low inflation, political chaos, mediocre economic growth and negative seasonality all qualify. The bearish arguments are extremely easy to make and quite compelling, but they still can't gain any traction.
I have been writing that the best way to navigate this market is to defer to the price action. There simply is no way to know with any certainty if, or when, the bearish scenario may come to fruition. Trying to anticipate a major market top is a recipe for frustration.
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On the other hand, this market isn't in a roaring uptrend, either. The action is slow and choppy. There are some pockets of momentum in groups such as biotechnology, but other groups such as financials are sending warning signals. Only about 49% of stocks are trading over their 200-day simple moving average, so there is quite a bit of corrective action already occurring.
The biggest challenge of this market is that it isn't giving us much of an edge in either direction. It is understandable that the bears want to keep loading shorts in anticipation of a correction. There isn't enough upside momentum to really squeeze them, so they are comfortable adding shorts. The bulls can pick off some trades here and there, but there isn't enough strong leadership to support being aggressively long. Longs are working better than shorts, but there are sufficient issues with the price action to prevent deployment of cash.
So we are stuck in a middle zone. The action is strong enough to prevent us from embracing the short side but weak enough to prevent aggressive buying. My game plan is to try to pick off some long-side trades while waiting for some clarity as to overall market direction. I believe there is good potential for another downside trade in the indices, but it is going to take good timing to handle the trade effectively.
Waiting for this market is much like waiting for Hurricane Irma. There is a foreboding feeling that disaster awaits, but we are in limbo and there is enough optimism to prevent the sellers from taking control. Vigilance and selective stock picking are the best approach at this juncture.
This article originally appeared September 7 at 7:42 AM ET on Real Money, our premium site for active traders. Click here to get great columns like this from Jim Cramer and other writers even earlier in the trading day.