Steady As She Goes
Good morning. Although we’re getting a late start to the week, market analysis definitely falls into the “better late than never” category. So, let’s go ahead and review my key market models/indicators and see where we stand. To review, the primary goal of this exercise is to try and remove any subjective notions about what “should” be happening in the market in an attempt to stay in line with what “is” happening in the markets. So, let’s get started.
The State of the Trend
We start our review each week with a look at the “state of the trend.” These indicators are designed to give us a feel for the overall health of the current short- and intermediate-term trend models.
- The short-term Trend Model likes nothing more than new all-time highs.
- Both Channel Breakout Systems remain on their 8/22 buy signals and are in stellar shape.
- Not surprising that the intermediate- and long-term Trend Models are solidly positive.
- The market continues to thumb its nose at the historical cycles, which means that the Cycle Composite is currently “out of whack” with what the market “is” doing.
- Two of the three Trading Mode models now indicate the market is in a trending environment. The fact that these models have lagged and that one is still in “mean reversion” mode suggests that the current move doesn’t have a lot of “oomph” behind it.
- Overall though, not much to complain about from a trend standpoint.
The State of Internal Momentum
Next up are the momentum indicators, which are designed to tell us whether there is any “oomph” behind the current trend…
- Both the short- and intermediate-term Trend and Breadth Confirm Models remain positive. This tells us that “market breadth” is in gear.
- The Industry Health Model is inching ever closer to the outright positive zone but isn’t there yet. We should note however that the global version of this indicator remains positive.
- The short-term Volume Relationship is now positive.
- The intermediate-term Volume Relationship model has also made a strong move back up into positive zone.
- The Price Thrust Indicator is in good, but not great, shape.
- The Volume Thrust Indicator has finally confirmed the movement in price and is positive. Note the extremely strong historical return from the market when this indicator is positive.
- The Breadth Thrust Indicator continued to improve last week.
- When the momentum board is solidly green, investors tend to smile – a lot.
The State of the “Trade”
We also focus each week on the “early warning” board, which is designed to indicate when traders may start to “go the other way” — for a trade.
- From a near-term perspective, stocks remain overbought. However, I will now argue that this is a “good overbought” condition that should be seen as a sign of strength. As such, I’ve changed the “current signal” to “hold”.
- From an intermediate-term view, stocks are now very overbought. But again, a market that “gets overbought and stays overbought” is positive.
- The Mean Reversion Model suggests that it is time to “go the other way.”
- The VIX Indicators are conflicted right now. The shorter-term model just issued a sell while the intermedite-term model remains on a buy
- Note that we’ve now broken out the VIX indicators into short- and intermediate-term
- From a short-term perspective, market sentiment is back to negative.
- The intermediate-term Sentiment Model remains negative
- Longer-term Sentiment readings are also quite negative.
- Bottom Line: Stocks are overbought and sentiment is overly optimistic. However, this alone does not “cause” declines – it merely increases the risk of a decline and the potential severity of a decline if/when a bearish catalyst emerges.
The State of the Macro Picture
Now let’s move on to the market’s “external factors” – the indicators designed to tell us the state of the big-picture market drivers including monetary conditions, the economy, inflation, and valuations.
- Absolute Monetary conditions remain neutral as rates are on the rise and there is renewed talk of a bond bear.
- The recent spike in rates has also caused the Relative Monetary Model to slip to neutral.
- Our Economic Model (designed to call the stock market) flipped from negative to neutral last week.
- The Inflation Model continues to slide lower within the neutral zone.
- The Absolute Valuation Model appears to have rolled over a bit from elevated levels. So, the reading isn’t quite as negative as it was…
- Our Relative Valuation Model remains in the neutral zone.
The State of the Big-Picture Market Models
Finally, let’s review our favorite big-picture market models, which are designed to tell us which team is in control of the prevailing major trend.
- The Leading Indicators model, which was our best performing timing model during the last cycle, improved a bit last week and remains on a buy signal.
- The overall message from “the tape” is pretty good. Not great, but good enough for the bulls to continue to control the ball.
- The Risk/Reward model continues to be weighed down by sentiment, valuation and monetary. So, this model continues to wave a yellow flag.
- The External Factors model is in good shape.
Let’s run this down from top to bottom… The trend of the market is good. The Momentum board is a thing of beauty. The early warning board is like a 3rd grader with his hand waving in the back of the class dying to be called on. Monetary conditions are going the wrong way but not enough to hurt the bulls to any meaningful degree (at this point). From a fundamental standpoint, there can be no arguing that valuations are elevated. And finally, my favorite “primary cycle” indicators remain mostly green. So, this combination tells me to continue to give the bulls the benefit of the doubt but to be aware that a corrective phase is long overdue and as such, may not require much of a catalyst to get started.
Sample Risk Exposure System
Below is an EXAMPLE of how some of above indicators might be used in order to determine exposure to market risk. The approach used here is a “Model of Models” comprised of 10 independent Models. Each model included gives separate buy and sell signals, which affects a percentage of the model’s overall exposure to the market.
Trend models control a total 40% of our exposure. The 3 Momentum Models and 3 Environment Models each control 10% of the portfolio’s exposure to market risk. The model’s “Exposure to Market Risk” reading (at the bottom of the Model) acts as an EXAMPLE of a longer-term guide to exposure to market risk.
In looking at the “bottom line” of this model, my take is that readings over 75% are “positive,” readings between 50% and 75% are “moderately positive,” and readings below 50% should be viewed as a warning that all is not right with the indicator world.
The model above is for illustrative and informational purposes only and does not in any way represent any investment recommendation. The model is merely a sample of how indicators can be grouped to create a guide to market exposure based on the inputs from multiple indicators/models.
Thought For The Day:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. -Eleanor Roosevelt
Current Market Drivers
We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).
1. The State of Geopolitics
2. The State of the Economic/Earnings Growth (Fast enough to justify valuations?)
3. The State of the Trump Administration
4. The State of Fed Policy
Short-Term Trend-and-Breadth Signal Explained: History shows the most reliable market moves tend to occur when the breadth indices are in gear with the major market averages. When the breadth measures diverge, investors should take note that a trend reversal may be at hand. This indicator incorporates NDR’s All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 5-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 25-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +32.5% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost +23.6% per year.
Channel Breakout System Explained: The short-term and intermediate-term Channel Breakout Systems are modified versions of the Donchian Channel indicator. According to Wikipedia, “The Donchian channel is an indicator used in market trading developed by Richard Donchian. It is formed by taking the highest high and the lowest low of the last n periods. The area between the high and the low is the channel for the period chosen.”
Intermediate-Term Trend-and-Breadth Signal Explained: This indicator incorporates NDR’s All-Cap Dollar Weighted Equity Series and A/D Line. From 1998, when the A/D line is above its 45-day smoothing and the All-Cap Equal Weighted Equity Series is above its 45-day smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +17.6% per year. When one of the indicators is above its smoothing, the equity index has gained at a rate of +6.5% per year. And when both are below, the equity index has lost -1.3% per year.
Industry Health Model Explained: Designed to provide a reading on the technical health of the overall market, Big Mo Tape takes the technical temperature of more than 100 industry sectors each week. Looking back to early 1980, when the model is rated as “positive,” the S&P has averaged returns in excess of 23% per year. When the model carries a “neutral” reading, the S&P has returned over 11% per year. But when the model is rated “negative,” stocks fall by more than -13% a year on average.
Cycle Composite Projections: The cycle composite combines the 1-year Seasonal, 4-year Presidential, and 10-year Decennial cycles. The indicator reading shown uses the cycle projection for the upcoming week.
Trading Mode Indicator: This indicator attempts to identify whether the current trading environment is “trending” or “mean reverting.” The indicator takes the composite reading of the Efficiency Ratio, the Average Correlation Coefficient, and Trend Strength models.
Volume Relationship Models: These models review the relationship between “supply” and “demand” volume over the short- and intermediate-term time frames.
Price Thrust Model Explained: This indicator measures the 3-day rate of change of the Value Line Composite relative to the standard deviation of the 30-day average. When the Value Line’s 3-day rate of change have moved above 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day average ROC, a “thrust” occurs and since 2000, the Value Line Composite has gained ground at a rate of +20.6% per year. When the indicator is below 0.5 standard deviation of the 30-day, the Value Line has lost ground at a rate of -10.0% per year. And when neutral, the Value Line has gained at a rate of +5.9% per year.
Volume Thrust Model Explained: This indicator uses NASDAQ volume data to indicate bullish and bearish conditions for the NASDAQ Composite Index. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of NASDAQ daily advancing volume (i.e., the total volume traded in stocks which rose in price each day) to the 10-day total of daily declining volume (volume traded in stocks which fell each day). This ratio indicates when advancing stocks are attracting the majority of the volume (readings above 1.0) and when declining stocks are seeing the heaviest trading (readings below 1.0). This indicator thus supports the case that a rising market supported by heavier volume in the advancing issues tends to be the most bullish condition, while a declining market with downside volume dominating confirms bearish conditions. When in a positive mode, the NASDAQ Composite has gained at a rate of +38.3% per year, When neutral, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +13.3% per year. And when negative, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -8.5% per year.
Breadth Thrust Model Explained: This indicator uses the number of NASDAQ-listed stocks advancing and declining to indicate bullish or bearish breadth conditions for the NASDAQ Composite. The indicator plots the ratio of the 10-day total of the number of stocks rising on the NASDAQ each day to the 10-day total of the number of stocks declining each day. Using 10-day totals smooths the random daily fluctuations and gives indications on an intermediate-term basis. As expected, the NASDAQ Composite performs much better when the 10-day A/D ratio is high (strong breadth) and worse when the indicator is in its lower mode (weak breadth). The most bullish conditions for the NASDAQ when the 10-day A/D indicator is not only high, but has recently posted an extreme high reading and thus indicated a thrust of upside momentum. Bearish conditions are confirmed when the indicator is low and has recently signaled a downside breadth thrust. In positive mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +22.1% per year since 1981. In a neutral mode, the NASDAQ has gained at a rate of +14.5% per year. And when in a negative mode, the NASDAQ has lost at a rate of -6.4% per year.
Short-Term Overbought/sold Indicator: This indicator is the current reading of the 14,1,3 stochastic oscillator. When the oscillator is above 80 and the %K is above the %D, the indicator gives an overbought reading. Conversely, when the oscillator is below 20 and %K is below its %D, the indicator is oversold.
Intermediate-Term Overbought/sold Indicator: This indicator is a 40-day RSI reading. When above 57.5, the indicator is considered overbought and wnen below 45 it is oversold.
Mean Reversion Model: This is a diffusion model consisting of five indicators that can produce buy and sell signals based on overbought/sold conditions.
VIX Indicator: This indicators looks at the current reading of the VIX relative to standard deviation bands. When the indicator reaches an extreme reading in either direction, it is an indication that a market trend could reverse in the near-term.
Short-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 18 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a short-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.
Intermediate-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 7 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a intrmediate-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.
Long-Term Sentiment Indicator: This is a model-of-models composed of 6 independent sentiment indicators designed to indicate when market sentiment has reached an extreme from a long-term perspective. Historical analysis indicates that the stock market’s best gains come after an environment has become extremely negative from a sentiment standpoint. Conversely, when sentiment becomes extremely positive, market returns have been subpar.
Absolute Monetary Model Explained: The popular cliche, “Don’t fight the Fed” is really a testament to the profound impact that interest rates and Fed policy have on the market. It is a proven fact that monetary conditions are one of the most powerful influences on the direction of stock prices. The Absolute Monetary Model looks at the current level of interest rates relative to historical levels and Fed policy.
Relative Monetary Model Explained: The “relative” monetary model looks at monetary indicators relative to recent levels as well as rates of change and Fed Policy.
Economic Model Explained: During the middle of bull and bear markets, understanding the overall health of the economy and how it impacts the stock market is one of the few truly logical aspects of the stock market. When our Economic model sports a “positive” reading, history (beginning in 1965) shows that stocks enjoy returns in excess of 21% per year. Yet, when the model’s reading falls into the “negative” zone, the S&P has lost nearly -25% per year. However, it is vital to understand that there are times when good economic news is actually bad for stocks and vice versa. Thus, the Economic model can help investors stay in tune with where we are in the overall economic cycle.
Inflation Model Explained: They say that “the tape tells all.” However, one of the best “big picture” indicators of what the market is expected to do next is inflation. Simply put, since 1962, when the model indicates that inflationary pressures are strong, stocks have lost ground. Yet, when inflationary pressures are low, the S&P 500 has gained ground at a rate in excess of 13%. The bottom line is inflation is one of the primary drivers of stock market returns.
Valuation Model Explained: If you want to get analysts really riled up, you need only to begin a discussion of market valuation. While the question of whether stocks are overvalued or undervalued appears to be a simple one, the subject is actually extremely complex. To simplify the subject dramatically, investors must first determine if they should focus on relative valuation (which include the current level of interest rates) or absolute valuation measures (the more traditional readings of Price/Earnings, Price/Dividend, and Price/Book Value). We believe that it is important to recognize that environments change. And as such, the market’s focus and corresponding view of valuations are likely to change as well. Thus, we depend on our Valuation Models to help us keep our eye on the ball.
Wishing you green screens and all the best for a great day,
David D. Moenning
Chief Investment Officer
Sowell Management Services
Disclosure: At the time of publication, Mr. Moenning and/or Sowell Management Services held long positions in the following securities mentioned: none. Note that positions may change at any time.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning’s opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program.
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