This Festering Weakness

 | Mar 22, 2013 | 7:00 AM EDT
  • Comment
  • Print Print
  • Print
Stock quotes in this article:






The S&P 500 is down a mere 1% from last Friday's close, and yet it feels much worse than that. If you're wondering why that is, take another look at all those statistics showing fewer stocks at new highs, which I've been harping about for a while now. In short, this is finally starting to matter.

Let's take everyone's favorite group, the financials. In February I highlighted noted a measured target of $18 to $19 in the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), and the fund reached just shy of $18.50 last week on the stress-test results. While the XLF does seem to be rolling over, it really hasn't done a thing wrong yet. It hasn't made a lower low, and it hasn't broken the uptrend line.


Now let's check in on one of the stocks tracked by the ETF, Goldman Sachs (GS). The stock made its high almost a month ago, and shortly thereafter it broke its first uptrend line. It saw another rally in early March -- to a lower high -- then sold off, and followed by another rally, last week, to another lower high. This means Goldman regularly appeared on the new-highs list until mid-February, but it has failed to do so for the last five weeks. In that time, the XLF has nonetheless rallied another 4%.

Goldman Sachs (GS)

Goldman has now made its first lower low by breaking the late February low. That now gives it two lower highs, one lower low and two broken uptrend lines. It won't become three broken trendlines until the stock sees an oversold rally -- but, as long time readers will recall, the first one is a small warning; the second is a big yellow flag; and the third is akin to "three strikes and you're out." It essentially completes the top.

So, while I realize everyone is keen to play the ETFs and indices, realize that you must also to look at what these underlying stocks are doing -- because ultimately they will either weigh on or bolster the ETF. That is why I fuss so much over the new-highs statistic. I am sure that, as you go through your charts, you will start to see some of the early signs of that pattern I have shown in the Goldman chart.

For example, once the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) hit 430-ish in mid-February, I thought it had gone far enough.  It then came down to tag the uptrend line and went on to make a higher high, and it's  finally broken the uptrend line -- as you can see -- and has a potential head-and-shoulders top in place. If you review many of the individual stock charts in the semiconductor group, I am sure you'll see how many failed to make higher highs within the SOX in mid-March.


The number of stocks making new highs does matter. Over time, a decline in this statistic means lower highs, and that points to the formation of tops.


Overbought/Oversold Oscillator -- NYSE

Overbought/Oversold Oscillator -- Nasdaq

In Top Stocks, Helene puts her 20+ years of experience in technical analysis to work for you. Take advantage of Helene's time-proven approach and her action-oriented analysis of technical indicators. Try it now. Get a 14-Day Free Trial.

Columnist Conversations

The symmetry is holding up in MCD.  Target 1 is 163.34 if we continue to hold above here!  ...
As far as TSLA is concerned, I still have a higher target above the market at the 409 area.  I stated in ...
The TLT setup discussed in my last commentary is a bust. Key support was violated and it violated the recent l...
BBY is getting smoked this mornings(weak forecast).  The stock is off 8% after opening the session with a...



News Breaks

Powered by


Except as otherwise indicated, quotes are delayed. Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes for all exchanges. Market Data provided by Interactive Data. Company fundamental data provided by Morningstar. Earnings and ratings provided by Zacks. Mutual fund data provided by Valueline. ETF data provided by Lipper. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions.

TheStreet Ratings updates stock ratings daily. However, if no rating change occurs, the data on this page does not update. The data does update after 90 days if no rating change occurs within that time period.

IDC calculates the Market Cap for the basic symbol to include common shares only. Year-to-date mutual fund returns are calculated on a monthly basis by Value Line and posted mid-month.