One of the main reasons we trade both individual stocks and ETFs in this swing trading newsletter is that trading the right combination of the two equity types increases our odds of being able to outperform the stock market at any given time, regardless of the dominant market trend.
In strongly uptrending markets, we primarily focus on buying leading individual stocks (mostly small to mid-cap) because they have the greatest chance of outperforming the gains of the main stock market indexes. However, when the overall broad market begins to weaken, or enters into an extended period of range-bound trading, we reduce our exposure in leading stocks when they begin failing their breakouts and running out of momentum.
Thereafter, we have several choices: 1.) Sit primarily in cash 2.) Begin initiating short positions in the weakest stocks 3.) Seek to trade ETFs with a low correlation to the direction of the overall stock market.
Most the time, we do a combination of these three things in weak or weakening markets, the proportion of which is dependent on overall market conditions. Since our rule-based market timing model shifted from “buy” to “neutral” mode last week, we have immediately begun easing up on long exposure of individual stocks.
With the NASDAQ Composite just below near-term support of its 20-day exponential moving average, and the S&P 500 right at key, intermediate-term support of its 50-day moving average, it is fair to say the broad market has NOT yet entered into a new downtrend. As such, we are not yet aggressively looking to enter new short positions at this time.
However, when our timing model is in “neutral” mode, one thing we find works very well is trading ETFs with a low correlation to the direction of the overall stock market (commodity, currency, fixed-income, and possibly international ETFs).
One such example of profiting from an ETF with low correlation to the stock market has been the recent performance of the US Oil Fund ($USO). Even though both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 2% last week, $USO actually gained more than 2% during the same period.
Because $USO is a commodity ETF that tracks the price of crude oil, the ETF has a very low correlation to the direction of the overall stock market. As banks, hedge funds, mutual funds, and other institutions were rotating funds out of equities last week, it is quite apparent these funds were rotating into select commodity ETFs such as $USO:
As you can see on the weekly chart of $USO above, the ETF is now poised to breakout to a fresh 52-week high (from a five-week base of consolidation). If it does, bullish momentum should carry the price substantially higher in the near to intermediate-term.
We are already long $USO from our buy entry last month, and the ETF is presently showing an unrealized share price gain of 6.5% since our original entry. However, if you missed our initial buy entry because you are not yet a Wagner Daily newsletter subscriber, you may still consider starting a new position in $USO if it breaks out above the range (existing subscribers should note our exact buy trigger, stop, and target prices for adding shares of $USO in the “watchlist” section of today’s report).
Two other commodity ETFs that definitely saw the inflow of institutional funds last week were SPDR Gold Trust ($GLD) and iShares Silver Trust ($SLV), which track the prices of spot gold and silver respectively.
Of these two precious metals, silver is showing the greater relative strength. Check out the weekly chart of $SLV below:
Notice that $SLV has convincingly broken out above resistance of a downtrend line (dotted black line) that had been in place throughout all of 2013. That breakout above the downtrend line also coincided with a sharp move back above its 10-week moving average (roughly equivalent to the 50-day moving average on the daily chart). Furthermore, last week’s rally in $SLV was confirmed by a sharp increase in volume. This, of course, indicates institutional money flow into the ETF.
Like $SLV, $GLD has also moved back above its 10-week moving average (and 50-day moving average), but $SLV showed substantially more momentum and relative strength than $GLD last week. Moreover, last week’s volume in $GLD was only on par with its 50-week average level ($SLV traded nearly double its average weekly volume).
Between $GLD and $SLV, the latter is definitely more appealing to us on a technical level. Now that $SLV has confirmed its trend reversal on the weekly chart, and has also formed two “higher highs,” we will be stalking $SLV for a low-risk buy entry in the coming days.
Ideally, we would like to see $SLV retrace back down to near the prior downtrend line (which has now become the new support level). However, even if $SLV does not pull back that much, we will be looking for either the formation of a bull flag type pattern on its daily chart, OR a pullback that forms a bullish reversal candle (at which time we would look to buy above that day’s high in the following session).
To reiterate, $SLV is NOT actionable at the moment because we do not chase stocks and ETFs that have already broken out too much above resistance. Nevertheless, most breakouts are followed by a pullback shortly thereafter, or at the very least, a short-term period of consolidation (such as a bull flag).
As always, will be sure to give subscribing members of our swing trading service a heads up if/when we add $SLV to our watchlist as an “official” swing trade setup. In the meantime, don’t forget we are looking to add to $USO if it breaks out above the high of its recent consolidation. We are definitely seeing the rotation of institutional funds back into the commodities markets, which we plan to take advantage of and profit from.
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