A two percent recovery in the Semiconductor Index ($SOX) helped spark a broad-based rally that led the S&P 500 to a new multi-year closing high yesterday. For the first time since March 1, stocks trended steadily higher throughout the entire session and finished near their intraday highs. The Nasdaq Composite woke up yesterday and zoomed 1.3% higher, while the S&P 500 kept pace with a 1.0% gain. The Dow lagged a bit with its 0.7% advance, but both the small-cap Russell 2000 and S&P Midcap 400 indices rallied 1.1%. Although it still remains below its prior high, we stopped out of MDY short (S&P Midcap 400) when it rallied back above its 20-day moving average.
Market internals were impressive yesterday, but total volume levels in the NYSE were surprisingly light. The positive is that advancing volume exceeded declining volume in the NYSE by nearly 5 to 1! The ratio in the Nasdaq was positive by more than 3 to 1. Without a doubt, internals that strong indicate confirmation of widespread buying operations. However, we found it interesting that total volume in the NYSE was only 4% higher than the previous day’s level. The higher volume gains made the session a bullish “accumulation day,” but we would have expected a much larger surge in turnover considering that the S&P broke out to a new multi-year high. The 4% rise in turnover was not even enough to push volume over its 50-day average level. Total volume in the Nasdaq showed a much healthier 17% increase, but it was still below its average level as well.
For those of you who like to trade or invest in the international ETFs, take a look at EWJ (iShares Japan Index). At a time when many of the international ETFs are correcting or breaking their primary uptrend lines, EWJ just broke out above its two-month daily downtrend line and is poised to resume the primary uptrend on its weekly chart. Looking at the daily chart below, notice how EWJ closed yesterday above its intermediate-term downtrend line after forming a triple bottom since the beginning of this year:
The longer-term weekly chart more clearly illustrates the primary uptrend that EWJ has been in since it broke out in August 2005:
At a minimum, we expect EWJ to rally back to its January 9 high of 14.30. Beyond that, odds are good that it will subsequently break out to a new 52-week high as well because due to the lack of overhead supply. If buying the breakout above its downtrend line, there are two clear areas for protective stop placement. If you want to play it tight and protect against a failed breakout, consider a stop about 15 to 20 cents below yesterday’s low. That would also enable the 20-day moving average to provide support as well. If you have a longer time frame and are interested in giving it a little more “wiggle room,” a stop below the triple bottom makes sense. Although EWJ is not very volatile, it is the kind of play that is ideal for retirement accounts that can’t use margin to sell short, especially if you don’t like the risk of being long the U.S. markets right now.
The best thing about yesterday’s action in the S&P is that the index has finally begun to break out of its lethargic, four-week trading range. As the chart below illustrates, SPY (S&P 500 SPDR) closed just a few pennies above the highs of its prior two failed breakouts from February 27 and March 3:
If the S&P (and SPY) holds this breakout for more than a day or two, it could trigger the return of heavy institutional buying activity that would help lift the other major indices to new highs as well. But for now, the S&P is the only broad-based index that cleared its prior high. Conversely, the small-cap Russell 2000 Index, which has led most broad-based rallies in recent years, is actually forming the right shoulder of a bearish “head and shoulders” chart pattern on its daily chart. Below, we have illustrated this on the chart of IWM (iShares Russell 2000). Moving averages were removed so you can more easily see the pattern:
Obviously, a rally above the high of the “head” would represent failure of the pattern to follow through to the downside, but caution with long positions, particularly in the small-cap arena, is still warranted. Further, the Nasdaq Composite still remains 1.5% below its January 11 high, but the index at least managed to recover back above convergence of its 20 and 50-day moving averages.
Because of yesterday’s action, our short-term bias has shifted from negative to neutral. The lackluster volume levels and divergence among the major indices tells us we are certainly not “out of the woods” yet, but the relative strength and new highs in both the S&P and Dow provide good reasons to be very cautious on the short-side. We feel it may be wise to step away from the markets for a few days until the market proves it can confirm yesterday’s strength. If it does, we’ll be ready to follow along and promptly resume trading in the direction of the primary upward trend. Remember to trade what you see, not what you think!
There are no new trade setups for today. Per the above commentary, we want to allow the market to digest yesterday’s gains and prove it can retain yesterday’s breakouts before blindly chasing and entering new positions.
Daily Performance Report:
Below is an overview of all open positions, as well as a performance report on all positions that were closed only since the previous day’s newsletter. Net P/L figures are based on the $50,000 Wagner Daily model account size. Changes to open positions since the previous report are listed in red text below:
Open positions (coming into today):
IYT short (300 shares from March 10 entry) –
shorted 78.84, stop 80.90, target 75.30, unrealized points = (1.79), unrealized P/L = ($537)
Closed positions (since last report):
MDY short (300 shares from March 9 entry) –
shorted 139.41, covered 141.90, points = (2.49), net P/L = ($753)
Current equity exposure ($100,000 max. buying power):
MDY stopped out yesterday. BBH short did not trigger and has been removed from the watchlist. It closed well above the 200-day MA, so the play is no longer valid at the present time.
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Click here to view MTG’s past performance results (updated monthly).
Edited by Deron Wagner,
MTG Founder and