Maintain a Long Perspective

 | Nov 18, 2011 | 1:58 PM EST  | Comments
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We are definitely not seeing aggressive action by dip buyers today, but the bears aren't pressing their bets either. I suspect the primary emotion is disinterest, as folks are happy to conclude a tough week and look forward to the weekend and the Thanksgiving holiday.

While I continue to lean more bullish than bearish, I'm not seeing any reason to hurry up and buy. My style is reactive rather than anticipatory and I don't see anything positive to react to. I have some longs, but plenty of idle cash. We could easily wake up to a big move Monday morning as Europe is saved, again, but I find it preferable to react to the news rather than bet on it actually happening.

I've often found that I trade better when I focus primarily on one market direction rather than trying to catch all the moves in either direction. For example, I'm staying focused on the long side right now, even though the price action is generally negative. I'm not looking at shorts at all. Rather than try to shift from bullish to bearish and back again, I want to stay focused on potential longs and be ready to seize them when the market action looks right.

I find it too easy to churn in an environment that is already quite choppy as I try to shift my market bias back and forth too quickly. When I try to catch every little up and down, I end up being on the wrong side far too often, and then I'm not prepared for the bigger, more aggressive moves. My energy is better spent staying focused on being aggressive in one direction so when the opportunity presents itself, I can embrace it fully.

For years, I made the vast majority of my gains trading primarily on the long side. When the market went through a poor period, I moved to cash and waited for opportunities to develop again. I really didn't miss out much and always produced exceptional returns. But once we entered a long bear period, I was forced to cultivate the short side just to be doing something.

I believe there are benefits to maintaining a generally bullish or bearish bias as long as you adapt when the primary trend shifts. Right now, this market is still in a general uptrend and I'm going to continue leaning long. That doesn't mean I'm going to be heavily invested at all times, but my inclination will be to buy rather than to sell.

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