Looking Over the Ledge … For a Clue

Keeping with being their role as a canary in the proverbial coal mine, US small cap stocks continue to lead the broader market both into and out of corrections. This includes the most recent correction that started in the August-September timeframe. As you can see in their weekly chart below, the price of the small cap stock index, IWM, sits right on critical support. A breakdown below the $142-$143 level suggests another 17% decline is in the cards based upon a confirmed head and shoulders pattern target, T1.

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Another possible outcome we need to consider is that the current level will actually hold support, move higher on to new highs and remain in a bull market uptrend.

Between the above two possible outcome, I think we will see lower prices in our short to intermediate term future (new lows). But the market doesnt care what I think. There is a version of the breakdown that I am actually favoring at this time. The right shoulder of the pattern is unsymmetrical and a bit malformed (stunted in its time of development) as compared to the left. This can occur in strong downward trending markets but it is not a ideal. As such, I could see the market chop around here a bit more before it resumes its move lower. This would allow the right shoulder to further develop before the breakdown and flush lower occurs. Either way this goes, it is currently at an interesting level. Either way this goes, it is currently at an interesting level and one that shouold interest both bulls and bears alike.

The Art of Knife Catching

Was talking to a great friend the other day and they asked if they should buy bitcoin. I said before you do let’s play a game. I will get on the roof, with you on the ground and I will throw some knives to you. Depending upon how many you catch will determine how much you buy. She laughed and got my point. I have nothing against bitcoin, in fact almost any vehicle is on the table as an investment but any purchase comes with a major condition, only buy if its price is rising. Let’s take a look at the bitcoin chart to see why I don’t believe now is the time to be acquiring this cryptocurrency.

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Long-term readers should easily recognize the ominous parabolic arc pattern. Parabolic Arc chart patterns are generated when steep rise in prices are caused by irrational buying and intense speculation. Parabolic Arcs are fairly rare but they are reliable that when they finally end, the result will be a steep and swift decline. The pattern typically terminates its uptrend and reverses direction upon a price break below the arc. If you are lucky enough to get in early, they are a way to immense riches … or devastation if you don’t have an investment plan (buy and hold)

As you can see after bitcoin broke the arc, it continued to fall, making lower highs and in the process forming a descending triangle pattern. These are typically continuation patterns, meaning there is a higher probability the break of the pattern will be in the direction of the prior trend (lower).  In this case, the break of the pattern that occurred 4 weeks ago points to a target in the area of $2900.  If that doesn’t hold, look out below as support doesn’t really show up until you get to $1000.

Because this is a logarithmic chart, it hides the magnitude of the decline. Put into perspective since peaking in December of last year, bitcoin has lost more than 80% of its value. Unfortunately for the millennials, they are the latest to be schooled by the markets and their early retirement dreams put on hold. It happens to everyone at some point which is being able to recognize irrational human behavior (parabolic arcs), confirmed by repeating patterns, helps to keep knowledgeable investors out of big trouble.

At some point BC will find a bottom and will be something worthy of your investment consideration. Until then, be happy you weren’t a part of the delusional crowd falling for the “hype” and “story” as they always precede parabolic arcs.   

Circling Back Around

In my September 5th blog post after posing the question whether the DJ Internet index formed an intermediate term top, I stated I would circle back around to find the answer to the question. At the time the almost ideal head and shoulders topping pattern had developed and, if played out, pointed to a 12% (or more) decline in the index. I also stated “The two possibilities are 1) a completion move down to T1 or below; or 2) a failure confirmed by a move back above early August’s right shoulder high (before it has completed a move to T1)”.  Here is how the chart of the index looked at the time of the post.

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Fast forward to the present and here is how the chart looks as of yesterday’s close.

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With the benefit of the recent US Stock market weakness, the answer to my question was a resounding yes as the index met and eventually exceeded the pattern’s target, falling 20% peak to trough as measured from the pattern’s neckline. This is NOT a testament to the power of technical analysis being a predictive tool. It is not. What it is though, is a very good risk management tool. At the time of the post an investor in the index, armed with the knowledge of the possibility of a 12% or more decline in their investment, needed to ask themselves if they wanted to accept that risk. If so, welcome to investing, you just experienced a 20% drawdown. Now what? If not and you exited, congratulations, you have a bigger pile of cash to invest when the next opportunity arises. Not if it arises, but when

November 2018 Charts on the Move Video

As we wind down 2018 (where did it go?) with global stock markets struggling, I am beginning to wonder whether the normal positive seasonality tailwinds will show up and bring investors some year-end joy. Regardless, the markets have been sending some real clear messages on how best to invest. Were you listening?  My take can be viewed in November’s Charts on the Move video link below  


Its (Almost) That Time

I have found models are a key component of managing money in the markets. Not only do they keep it very mechanical and easily manageable, they help to keep a human’s natural biases out of the financial decision-making process. For client portfolios, I have created a couple of models that attempt to strike a balance between risk/losses and trading activity. The shorter term your timeframe the more trading activity will occur in the account (more signals).  Whereas longer term timeframes help reduce the trading activity, but opens an account up to much greater drawdowns (signals are fewer and slower). And then there is the fact that no model is always correct which brings in a whole new set of problems but those are worthy of their own separate blog post and won’t be addressed herein.

My two longer term client models (one based upon weekly price movement, the other on monthly) are both within a cat’s whisker of providing a US stock market sell signal. Europe, Asia, the emerging and frontier markets all triggered sells much earlier in the year so the fact the US has held up this long is a testament to its strength. It appears as if we are finally looking at the potential for substantially bigger move to the downside.

My weekly proprietary model, Sightline, triggered last week but is waiting for a final confirmation before it becomes an official sell signal (a key rule within the model). With respect to the monthly model, I thought it worth posting the chart for review.

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All 4 components of the monthly model, RSI momentum crossover and negative divergence, price moving average crossover, PMO and MACD moving average crossover have all occurred, the confirmation needed to reduce exposure to US stocks. While the trigger for each component is currently in place for a sell signal, one of model’s rules require that they all have triggered at the end of the month (intra month does not count). Since we have a few more days left in November (and a chance for the expected year-end rally to reverse and put this model on hold) we need to provide both models a bit more time to activate an “official” US stock sell signal.