Can the Standard & Poor's 500 actually go up for an eighth straight session? That would make for the longest winning streak since the beginning of July, when the 10-year U.S. Treasury at last settled in after a wild ride. Can the market really be on the verge of taking out the early August high that is tantalizingly less than a point-and-a-half away from the current level?
Sometimes I think that I shouldn't even bother to ask anyone, because this market just defies and defies and defies the bears, and is climbing the steepest wall of worry I can recall in recent memory. No, it is not as dramatic as the wall scaled after the financial meltdown, the climb that began in March of 2009.
But it is dramatic nonetheless, and it rests on two different pillars. First, it only sees what's good, and not what's bad, or it spins the bad in a good way. Second, when domestic issues get rough, it shifts focus to something that's positive globally -- and vice versa.
Wednesday, for example, was a quintessential day in this bizarre bull run. Instead of fleeing the homebuilders on some incredibly horrendous mortgage-applications number, bulled-up investors bought these stocks, betting that the worst must be over. Talk about turning a negative into a positive. Meanwhile, not since 2008 have we decided that China has now trumped our own ability to move the cyclical needle. Ever since the Baltic Dry Freight Index bottomed in August and has never looked back, we have seen industrials catch bids in any moment when there's been dramatic stock-market weakness.
So who am I to say that now, with some Syrians firing missiles at Israel's Golan Heights (did anyone not see that coming?) that the market will at last break its winning streak?
We saw some truly terrible numbers last night from Vera Bradley (VRA) and Men's Wearhouse (MW), on top of cautionary guidance from PVH (PVH) and hideous outlooks from Francesca's (FRAN) and Jos. A. Bank (JOS). Despite this, though, for all I can tell that someone will see a silver -- not moth-infested -- lining in the apparel stocks. Maybe they will just go buy shares in TJX (TJX), the closeout company, to exploit the trend.
To me, it is again time to trim into an overbought stock market, something we have done pretty much every single day this week for Action Alerts PLUS. Believe me, we would do even more trimming if we weren't so darned restricted in the stocks of so many companies, as we tell subscribers in our alerts every day.
That said, I know this: Even after the market roared up eight straight sessions in early July, you didn't get the reckoning until August.
Somehow, I think this time we could be in for a quicker selloff when the streak is broken, given that we have seen some serious deterioration in both the home and retail-apparel sales departments. But that's been a "too-cautious" outlook for days now. In the end, you always have to go with the disciplines that brought you here, and we are not buying anything for the trust, at least until we raise even more cash. Anything else just seems imprudent, given the amazing run that the cruelest month has already given us.