The world is falling apart. Between escalating tensions with North Korea, destruction in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and frothy equity valuations, investors have a lot to be anxious about right now.
Or at least that's how it seems.
In the context of what's actually happening in the price action, though, things couldn't look much better. Even Kim Jong Un couldn't put the kibosh on this breakneck rally in the S&P 500.
As of this writing, the S&P 500 is on track to hand investors total returns of 19%, enough to make 2017 the best year for investors since 2013. The good news is that it's not too late to participate in that upside. The S&P is in full-blown breakout-mode this week, following a key technical buy signal that just triggered in everyone's favorite major stock market index.
Simply put, the risk-reward favors hitting the gas for your stock market portfolio, not slamming on the breaks.
To figure out where the S&P is headed next -- and how to trade it -- we're turning to the chart for a technical look.
More specifically, we're using the uber-popular SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) as our proxy for the broad market index:
You don't need to be an expert technical trader to figure out the S&P's price trajectory in 2017. In fact, SPY kicked off a well-defined uptrend back in early November, following the presidential election, and it's been rocketing up and to the right ever since. The stair-step pattern in the S&P has been pretty consistent year-to-date, and that's still the case this September.
Zooming in to the shorter term, the pattern in play in SPY since July has been an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish continuation setup that signals more upside ahead. The pattern is formed by horizontal resistance up above shares at $248 for SPY, with uptrending support to the downside.
Simply put, as SPY has pinballed in between those two technically important price levels, stocks have been getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout through $248. That breakout move officially got confirmed at the start of this week.
So, with the S&P skirting along new all-time highs, the high-probability outcome for the broad market is higher still as we barrel toward the end of the calendar year.
Over and over again, performance data shows that individual investors miss out on a massive chunk of the stock market's annualized upside. That's in large part because it's not easy to keep on buying stocks when the broad market is higher than it's ever been before -- so if you're looking for your green light to stay invested in this market, consider this week's breakout the evidence that buyers are still firmly in control of the price action in 2017.