My, how things can change in a week. Just last Wednesday, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) had fallen below its 50-day moving average with little support nearby. After stalling near this level earlier in the week, it gave way completely.
It looked as if we could finally be getting our 3% to 5% correction in the broader market. For all intents and purposes, the Russell appeared to be -- as it often is -- the so-called canary in the coalmine. But after bouncing between $144.50 and $146-ish Wednesday, the IWM balanced out somewhere in between, showing that buyers may have halted the bevy of sell orders from the past few weeks.
It wasn't just the Russell waving a warning flag, as high-yield bonds were as well. Two ETFs, the iShares iBoxx High Yield Corp Bond ETF (HYG) and the SPDR Barclays Capital High Yield Bond ETF (JNK) were both suffering from swift and sudden losses.
But again, Wednesday proved to be a turning point. With those quick and sudden losses only appearing to accelerate, the HYG (and the JNK ETF came close enough) reversed off their 200-day moving averages and rocketed higher. The Russell 2000 didn't display as convincing of a reversal that day, but like we said, the bulls finally seemed to stop the bears. At least temporarily.
Fast forward to this week and the Dow, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 have hit new all-time highs on both Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 made new all-time highs as well.
So it appears that the micro-dip from last week may have been your chance to get long, although admittedly, this so-called dip was nothing to get excited about. The major indices are seeing record-low volatility this year, while putting together a stretch without a 3% pullback never seen in the U.S. markets. Buyers are literally pouncing on every tick lower -- or so it feels -- and still feel comfortable pushing record highs to new heights.
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The one little, microscopic bone investors could pick? Neither the HYG or JNK ETFs have been able to do two things: Make new highs like the other indices above or reclaim their 50-day moving averages.
Was the HYG and JNK bounce just temporary and more downside could exist? Or are these two ETFs just taking longer than the others to rebound?
That's an important distinction, because while we said investors shouldn't go net short or sell all their holdings on this fact alone, there is a conclusive correlation between the S&P 500 and junk bonds. If they don't behave well going forward, there is a chance U.S. stocks may suffer. As of now, though, it seems to be all system go.
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Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 22.