Back Where We Started ... Again

 | Jan 12, 2012 | 1:56 PM EST
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The opening strength was an invitation to sell, but dip-buyers did another fine job of jumping in before any real damage was done. Once again, they quickly bought weakness and had the market around even within a few hours. That has happened almost every day this year.

The big negative is that the bulls appear unable to do much more than move us back to flat. We bounce back nicely but stall and don't gain further traction.

Unlike Wednesday, we don't have pockets of wild momentum, but there is some decent trading to be had. Stocks are not moving in correlated fashion and individual stock-picking is working better. I'm having luck with the energy sector, and there are a few small-cap China names of interest as well.

It's tempting to try to call a top to the market since the overall momentum is tepid. The problem is that aggressive dip-buying tends to beget more dip-buying. Pullbacks create a Pavlovian response, especially when every pullback in 2012 has been a buying opportunity.

I have trades going, but it's not easy to put funds to work. I'm considering smaller trades that require quick profit-taking. It's not going to be easy to build position trades until we have a little more volatility.

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