Advance Decline Line’s Message

The Advance-Decline has proven itself over the years and as such is an important tool when assessing the health of a market. Like all indicators, its never always correct and why it should be used in a weight-of-the-evidence approach.

The Advance-Decline Line (AD Line) is a breadth indicator based on Net Advances, which is the number of advancing stocks less the number of declining stocks. Net Advances is positive when advances exceed declines and negative when declines exceed advances. The AD Line is a cumulative measure of Net Advances. It rises when Net Advances is positive and falls when Net Advances is negative. When comparing the AD Line against the index, the AD Line should confirm an advance or a decline with similar movements. Divergences in the AD Line vs index can signal a potential reversal and worthy of an investor’s attention.

Taking a look at the AD line in 2015 during what we now know turned out to be just a (~19%) correction in a bull uptrend instead of a change in trend, the AD line in the upper pane was still rising, while the stock index in the lower pane was declining. This is an excellent example of bullish divergence …. we all know what happened after the fact (the resumption of the bull market).

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Fast forward to last December’s 20% decline, you can see that the AD line again diverged from the price of the index just like it did in 2015 hinting to expect a continuation of the bullish uptrend instead of a reversal.

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As always, price never goes straight up and we should expect the normal market ebb and flow based upon investors whims especially now as we are so overbought, but any shallow pullback will be viewed as a opportunity to put risk capital back to work, if not already complete.

Don’t Ignore This Opportunity

Emerging market equities appear to have turned a corner from their recent intermediate term downtrend. In the chart below of the emerging markets stock ETF, EEM, you can see it declined almost 25% since it peaked last March. Since finding a bottom in late October the index began to rally at the same time US stocks were falling, reflecting relative strength. Additionally, RSI momentum has moved from being oversold to approaching its first overbought condition since January of last year, something the EEM bulls want to see. And for those, like myself who want confirmation of a trend change instead of trying to pick bottoms, the index has formed a series of higher highs and higher lows, the final signal it’s time to commit some investment capital.

Even though a bottom may be established in any investment opportunity there is no reason to invest in it unless it is going to outperform the current alternative leader. The winner of your investment capital war should be the one that will provide the greatest gains, right? In the bottom pane is a ratio of EEM to SP500. A quick refresher is when this ratio is falling EEM is underperforming and telling you that the SP500 deserves your investment capital. If, on the other hand the ratio line is rising, the alternative is true identifying the emerging markets as the better choice. As you can see the ratio began to bottom and formed a very nice rounded saucer pattern indicating a change in direction and shows EEM is outperforming on a relative basis the SP500.

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The weight of the information the chart presents a strong enough argument for me to invest, how about you?

36 Rolls of Toilet Paper

Where is the only place a normal person feels good about spending $30 to purchase enough toilet paper to last a year in one visit to a store? Not only do you need an SUV to get the bundle home, you need a small condominium in extra space in your home order to have enough room to store them. Of course, I must be talking about Costco.

Because the current rally has gone so far so fast, a normal market would be ripe for a pullback. As such, I continue to look for some good shorting idea setups that would provide some gains and portfolio protection if/when the broad market takes a breather. Last week’s EFA short idea was stopped out with a small 1.5% loss.

In the daily chart of Costco, COST, below, the $216-$217 level has been very important over the last 6 months and as such would be expected to continue to be. Before COST finally broke below that level in early December, looking left we can see it acted as support 5 previous times. We know that once a level was support, broken it now becomes resistance which is exactly what we see happening. As the shares of Costco have risen off the December 24th bottom it is starting to struggle to continue its move higher the closer it gets to that resistance zone.  Notice also, how this same resistance coincides exactly with where the rising (red) 200 day moving average and falling (green) 50 day moving average meet adding more importance to that level. With price below this confluence of resistances and struggling, I am looking for COST to pull back here.

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The best case is it falls, makes a higher low and forms a cup and handle pattern.  This would offer a great long entry for those with investment capital to deploy. Worst case, it falls and retraces the entire move (or more) made since the December bottom. If this were to happen this, too, would present another (even better) long entry. Of course, it will take a much longer time to complete so investors are going to have to be patient. For those short-term traders, taking a short here with a stop just above Tuesday’s 215.5 high offer up another excellent risk reward setup for those that can short and are nimble.

The World’s Most Important Island

Ok, I have to admit the title is a bit sensationalized. The world, in the case of this blog post includes all of the world except the US and Canada. With that in mind, a very interesting island reversal pattern has developed in EFA, the index ETF that attempts to track the worlds developed stock markets (sans US and Canada).

Island Reversals (From

An island reversal is a reversal pattern that forms with two gaps and price action in between the two gaps. These gaps tell us that the island reversal marks a sudden, and sharp, shift in direction. Even though they are relatively uncommon, island reversals are potent patterns that warrant our attention. 

The alignment of the gaps holds the key. First, note that a bullish island reversal forms with a gap down and then a gap up. A bearish island reversal forms with a gap up and then a gap down. These gaps overlap to create an island of price action, hence the term "island reversal". The island is above the gaps on a bullish island reversal, and below the gaps on a bearish island reversal.

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Taking a look at EFA’s chart we can see yesterday’s gap down formed the final candle to confirm the pattern. If you look left, in spite of their rare occurrences, I circled where EFA formed an island top reversal in December which lead to a 10% decline. Because EFA is below a falling 200 day moving average, is making lower highs and lower lows, this pattern has major significance and a warning to investors of the potential for another leg down in stocks. If and only if price reverses course higher soon, fills the gap and closes above Friday’s high does it negate this bearish pattern. Forewarned is forearmed.

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 For traders, this is a nice-looking short selling risk-reward setup. Selling short Tuesday’s close and using a stop just above last Friday’s high as your stop, offers a trading opportunity providing a potential $4 gain for every $1 risked. Downside target is back at December’s low.