The Wagner Daily


After beginning the day with an opening gap down, the major indices attempted to recover throughout the morning. By mid-day, stocks had clawed their way back to nearly unchanged levels, but the bears resumed control in the afternoon. The main stock market indexes eventually closed in negative territory, in the area of their morning lows. The S&P 500 lost 0.5%, while both the Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6%. The small-cap Russell 2000 and S&P Midcap 400 indices were lower by 0.7% and 0.3% respectively.

Turnover was mixed. Total volume in the NYSE was 2% lower than the previous day’s level, but volume in the Nasdaq increased by 7%. The loss on higher volume caused the Nasdaq to register a bearish “distribution day.” It was the Nasdaq’s second such day of institutional selling this week. The S&P also had a “distribution day” on Monday, but dodged the label yesterday. Two recent days of higher volume selling in the Nasdaq is a warning sign to astute traders that the overall bias amongst mutual funds, hedge funds, and other institutions might be changing. Nevertheless, a healthy market can typically absorb at least three to four “distribution days” within a four-week period. A greater number nearly always marks an intermediate-term top.

In yesterday’s Wagner Daily, we said we were stalking the Semiconductor HOLDR (SMH) for a potential long entry on a breakout above its consolidation. Not only did it not trade through our trigger price, the Semiconductor Index ($SOX) completely fell apart yesterday, sliding more than 2%.

Though we really liked the long setup in SMH and felt it had good odds of breaking out, yesterday’s action was a clear example of how the market always does what it wants to do, not what we want it to do. This is the exact reason why we use exact trigger prices that an ETF must first exceed before we enter the position. Doing so forces the trade to confirm its own strength, rather than us simply assuming it will go. In the case of SMH, our trigger price for long entry was $39.22, ten cents above the high of the consolidation. However, it gapped down on yesterday’s open, never trading above its opening high of $38.52. Had we prematurely bought SMH, we would now be looking at a loss. Instead, patience and discipline to wait for predetermined trigger prices prevented any harm from being done:

It’s now pretty far away from its trigger price for entry, but SMH did manage to hold support of both its intermediate-term uptrend line and 50-day MA. Therefore, we’ll continue monitoring its price action in the background to see if yesterday’s action was perhaps just a “shakeout.” In the interim, all bets are off in the Semiconductor arena. Anxiously “jumping the gun” to buy a stock or ETF at a “better price” than its actual pivot will only lead to churning your trading account.

Yesterday’s loss in the Dow caused the index to move back below its prior high from July. Just two days ago, the blue-chip index broke out to a new all-time high, but it appears that breakout may be in jeopardy of failing. If it does, a double top will have formed in the Dow as well. With the index only slightly below support of its prior high, it’s a bit too early to declare a “failed breakout,” but it certainly bears watching over the next several days:

On a purely technical level, the inability of the Dow to hold at a new high is not a big deal because the index only consists of thirty stocks, none of which are stock market leaders. However, the psychological implications would be more damaging because the average investor, as well as the financial talking heads, views the Dow as a barometer of the overall stock market’s health.

The Nasdaq Composite, which similarly broke out to a new multi-year high on Monday, is also in a precarious position. A firm close below yesterday’s low would increase the odds of a double top formation and failed breakout in the Nasdaq as well. Notice how yesterday’s low coincided with support of the prior high from July:

It’s normal for an index to subsequently test new support of its breakout level, as the Nasdaq did yesterday. So far, there’s no problem with the breakout. However, one might consider promptly closing any long positions in the Nasdaq if the index slips below yesterday’s low. If both the Nasdaq and Dow simultaneously fail their recent breakouts and form “double tops,” it’s hard to imagine that sellers would not step in across the board. How aggressively they do is anyone’s guess, but the reward/risk ratio would no longer favor the long side of the market.

Monday’s strength caused us to stop out of our short position in the S&P 500 that day, but perhaps we were just a little too early. Many short setups will begin presenting themselves if/when the S&P, Nasdaq, and Dow fall below support of their hourly uptrend lines. A firm close below yesterday’s lows would cause that to happen. At that point, moderate entries on the short side of the market, or at least closing any remaining long positions, would be the most prudent plan of action. The lack of bullish confirmation two days ago is why briefly shifted into “SOH mode,” which now seems to have been wise.

Today’s Watchlist:

DUG – UltraShort Oil and Gas ProShares

Shares = 300
Trigger = scaled entry – HALF above 41.94, remaining shares above 42.36
Stop = split stop – 39.24 on first half, 40.31 on second entry
Target = 51.20 (61.8% Fibonacci retracement of intermediate downtrend)
Dividend Date = December 2007

Notes = This ETF is inversely correlated to the direction of the Oil and Gas sector. Based on its recent undercut below the prior low, it appears to be forming a bottom. A breakout above the September 26 high and the 20-day EMA will confirm the reversal of the intermediate-term downtrend.

We are using a scaled entry for this setup, adding to the position as it shows us more confirmation of a trend reversal. The first 150 shares will be bought on a rally above the September 26 high, while the remaining 150 shares will be added above convergence of the downtrend line and 20-day EMA. Initially, the stop is also split. The stop of 39.24 is for the initial entry at 41.94. The tighter stop of 40.31 is only for the remaining shares purchased at 42.36. If the trade confirms the breakout of the downtrend, the stop for the entire position will be trailed higher. As with all setups, be sure not to “jump the gun” with an entry prior to the trigger prices.

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):

      LQD long (350 shares from August 31 entry) – (see notes below regarding dividend distributions)

      bought 104.99 (avg.), stop 103.53, target 107.48, unrealized points + 0.68, unrealized P/L + $238

      MZZ long (400 shares from October 3 entry) – bought 50.48, stop 49.81, target 54.78, unrealized points (0.19), unrealized P/L ($76)

    Closed positions (since last report):


    Current equity exposure ($100,000 max. buying power):



      Per intraday e-mail alert, we bought MZZ yesterday as a short-term “momentum trade.” In case it doesn’t follow through with yesterday morning’s reversal attempt, our stop is tight and will limit the loss to less than $300. The OIH short setup, also per e-mail alert, did not trigger and has been removed from our watchlist. Instead, we are targeting the inversely correlated DUG for a potential long entry. SMH, of course, also failed to trigger and has been removed from the watchlist.

      On September 4, LQD traded ex-dividend, with a dividend distribution of 49 cents per share. On October 1, LQD traded ex-dividend and paid out 48 cents per shares. Unrealized points and P/L figures include these distributions.

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Edited by Deron Wagner,
MTG Founder and
Head Trader