Sufficient unto the day… is the evil thereof. Less biblically, it’s good enough for government work. Of course, we’re talking about the rally off the 10/27 low – it’s good, but yet to be great. While we don’t find instant coffee fast enough, we are told these things sometimes take time. Meanwhile, there’s enough to at least muddle us through year-end. The enough in this case is momentum, and it goes back to 11/14 if we were to single out just one day. That day saw advancing issues 10 times greater than those declining, and it was a 90% up day. Also, more than a quarter of all stocks rose by 4% or more, according to SentimenTrader.com, a real rarity. Stocks follow through to this kind of momentum pretty much across all time frames, the only problem being the small sample size.
While Nvidia (468) garners all the attention, of all things Intel (45) recently has outperformed. Together with almost daily new highs in IBM (159) and Dell (76), it’s enough to make you think PCs are here to stay. These may not be as much fun as the Mag 7, but that’s only true if you define fun as volatility rather than making money. In any event, the real point here is that it is encouraging to see stocks like these acting well, in addition to the Nvidia’s of the world. Meanwhile, the Cyber stocks make so much sense it’s a wonder they haven’t done better, but they did have a great week. Perhaps most interesting was the price action in Zscaler (198). The stock gapped down eight points or 4% at the open Tuesday yet managed to close modestly higher on the day. Of course, opening gaps don’t really matter if they’re filled during the day. And gaps typically don’t matter unless they change the price trend, which in the case of ZS was unlikely.
Obviously, there has been more to the upside than just one good day. For what seems a good rally, however, it holds some concerns. The percent of stocks about their 200-day, for example, remains below 50%. While up from its low around 30%, the S&P is up some 12% from its low. There’s no magic number here, and while the A/Ds have been positive throughout the recovery, we are surprised more stocks haven’t been pushed into uptrends, that is, above their 200-day. Meanwhile, on the NASDAQ 12-month lows numbered more than 300 issues, also a surprise given the 10% recovery there. None of this is rally killing, and for now we are happy to buy into the progress not perfection argument. However, these numbers need to improve.
Had you invested 10% of your portfolio in Homestake Mining back in 1929, it would’ve hedged the rest. What is surprising is that was a period of deflation, not the inflationary backdrop against which Gold typically is associated. Perhaps the recent better price action in Gold is suggesting at least a period of disinflation. Meanwhile, whatever the driver Gold is acting better, though Gold and “false dawn” have become almost synonymous. Gold is in one of its historical four year down cycles which should last through next year. However, after the always difficult October, Gold tends to rally through the following February. Also, the Dollar is now a tailwind.
While the market looks higher through year-end, we doubt it will prove as easy as it looks. December may be one of the most positive months of the year, but typically there’s a downdraft someplace along the line. If not actual weakness, there’s the jockeying which comes with year-end – buy the winners or is it sell the winners, it’s never quite clear. If anything usually proves true, it’s don’t sell the losers, which by now are usually sold out. We may have seen a little of these cross currents Wednesday and Thursday when Tech sold off despite for the most part good news. If worry you must, the market did sell off when Nvidia reported last July. Through what could be a lot of noise in the coming month, it’s even more important to watch the average stock, the A/Ds to gauge the market’s health.
Frank D. Gretz