Normally a surprise announcement of a European version of quantitative easy would set the market on fire, but this time the excitement fizzled quickly. The market started strong but, technically, it was just too extended on light volume and couldn't build momentum. We saw only a minor pullback in the indices but, again, the action under the surface looked very poor in places.
The bears' spin on the seemingly good news was that incremental action by the European Central Bank is too little, too late and won't do much to help the very poor European economy. At this point, there isn't much left in the central bank's bag of tricks. Of course, the fact that the market is overbought isn't helping bring in buyers, either.
Tomorrow morning the August jobs news will shift the focus back to the central bankers in the U.S. There have been more hints lately from Fed members that interest rate hikes might come sooner rather than later and the jobs news tomorrow will have some influence on that.
In this market, it hasn't paid to be too bearish too quickly, but on the other hand the pullbacks in small-caps and momentum stocks can come very quickly and if you aren't a little anticipatory, you can take some sizable hits.
Overall, the uptrend is still firmly in place but there are flaws in the action. Increased vigilance is warranted.
Have a good evening. I'll see you tomorrow.
Sept. 04, 2014 | 1:14 PM EDT
Still a Net Seller
- There aren't many things that look ready for a further run.
The indices are still solidly green, but we have an intraday fade and there is no longer the same bullish atmosphere we had on Tuesday afternoon. The buyers are still out there, but there is less energy and the momentum is narrower.
I have to battle my inclination to be a bit more bearish. It is very easy to fall into the trap of anticipating market turns, but that has been a major losing strategy for ages. On the other hand, the price action, especially in small caps, is looking softer and the number of individual stocks on my screens that are exhibiting tired action is increasing.
Yesterday I mentioned being a net seller and that is the case again today. It isn't that the action is that bad, but there aren't many things that look ready for a further run. I did add a few shares of China Automotive Systems (CAAS) and am impressed with a number of China names, but my confidence level is slowly declining.
My approach to the market is to not try to call tops or bottoms based on macro events, but to let the price action of individual stocks be my guide. At the moment it still isn't bad at all, but there is enough softness to push me to do some selling.
September 4, 2014 | 10:26 AM ET
ECB Not a Turning Point
- If traders were hoping for this, they were wrong again.
The action this morning is typical of the response to central bankers. Even if they take unsurprising action, as the European Central Bank did today with its rate cut -- which many feel will have no real benefit -- the buyers just keep on coming in this market. They are reassured that interest rates on U.S. Treasuries will stay low for the foreseeable future, and that is all that really matters. Yes, the European economy is so painfully weak that the ECB has to start a form of quantitative easing -- but that just isn't very important when it comes to putting my cash into equities.
The market has been working steadily higher in the early going on decent breadth. Apple (AAPL) has bounced after some severe pressure very early this morning. Solar energy is leading, and retail is also showing some perk with names such as Amazon (AMZN) and J.C. Penney (JCP) attracting interest. Oil and energy are the laggards.
Speculative interest has cooled off a little, but these folks are still active in Digital Ally (DGLY), Taser (TASR), Tesla (TSLA) and a few others. China names such as Tarenta (TEDU), YY (YY) and Leju (LEJU) continue to pop up on my screens.
If traders were expecting the ECB to be a turning point for the market, they were wrong once again. The big fear among traders isn't that the market will reverse, but that they will miss out on further upside action.
Sept. 4, 2014 | 9:08 AM EDT
Vain Hopes for 'Sell the News'
- The market reaction to the ECB rate cut has been positive so far.
Monetary policy has come to the end of its instruments. --Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Finance Minister
With the market slowly drifting higher, the big question is: What will be the catalyst that finally produces more aggressive profit-taking? The market is technical vulnerable due to the low-volume rally that has been in place for weeks, and it is ripe for some selling if given a good excuse.
We two potential news events that could shake things up a bit. First is the European Central Bank interest-rate announcement, which revealed surprise cut to 0.05% from 0.15%. It had been widely expected that there would be no change, but there is obviously great concern about the economic health of Europe. Certainly you have to wonder how much difference it will make to drive near-zero rates down fractionally. Tomorrow, meanwhile, we'll be getting the August jobs report.
The bears that keep hoping that these news events will produce a "sell the news" reaction have been consistently disappointed. The market never seems to sell off on central-banker announcements, and if there is a dip it doesn't last for long. That really isn't too surprising, as the bankers are extremely careful not to spook the markets. Hawkish is always tempered with comments about how any moves will depend on future data.
What is so frustrating for the bears is that it is inevitable central bankers will become less market-friendly at some point. In the U.S., Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has already showed signs of moving to a more hawkish stance, but the pervasive economic weakness in Europe has kept the monetary spigots open, and that is all that the market needs.
We'll see how things shake out on the ECB decision, but the action on Wednesday was slightly negative. The market reversed the strong open and closed poorly. Apple (AAPL) had its worse performance in many months, and a number of other momentum names experienced a little pressure. There was no rush for the exits, but there was profit-taking, and we saw some signs that the bulls may be ready to take a rest.
Of course, in this market environment, it is consistently a mistake to be bearish for long. Any hesitancy in the market action has been a buying opportunity, rather than the start of a topping process. I did a fair amount of selling yesterday simply because I had some individual stocks that didn't act the way I had wanted them to do. That sort of defensiveness isn't favored the way this market works, but it still feels logical.
The market reaction to the ECB announcement is positive, but now we get to see how much the indices can run on the news. The market loves the central bankers, and it has been a mistake to look for selling on anything that they do. On the other hand, this market is technically extended, and the potential for a technical reversal is high. If Wolfgang Schaeuble is right, this rally on the ECB won't last for long.