Go Big … Going Small

DJIA:  38,996

Go big … going small.  Big has dominated the markets, at least in terms of the market averages.  The top 10% of the market is 75% of the market.  The last time it was this concentrated was 1929.  For the first time in almost 40 years, a third of the S&P is just 10 stocks.  Concentration isn’t necessarily a bad thing, leaders lead and to some degree markets always will be concentrated.  We see the issue being more in the breadth of the market – are the leaders the only thing going up?  The good news is they’re not.  The Equal Weight S&P (163) reached a new high for the first time in two years.  Historically this offers that Index a very high win rate over the subsequent year, according to SentimenTrader.com.  Given where the concentration lies, even more surprising the NASDAQ 100 Equal Weight (123) is also nudging new highs.  Concentration doesn’t kill markets, it’s losing participation that kills markets.  This market seems yet to have done so.

We have likened Nvidia (792) to Cisco (48) for a couple of glaring similarities.  They pretty much are the names associated with their respective innovations, the Internet and AI.  Innovation typically has been the backdrop for most bubbles. Nvidia may well be tracking Cisco pricewise, but consider that when both started their runs in October, 1998 and 2023 respectively, Cisco didn’t peak until March 2000.  Even then the real decline took many weeks to get going.  Remember too, unlike the market in 2000, “the market” this time is not itself a bubble.  To dance on the dark side we call funnymentals, back then the dot-coms didn’t have revenues let alone earnings, a bit different from what we saw from Nvidia last week.  And back then it was the “new economy,” the dot-coms, and the “old economy,” which was pretty much everything else and was moving lower.  The A/D Index background was quite poor.

After a couple of weeks of consolidation Bitcoin, particularly as measured by the ETFs new and old, is having a good week.  We can see some real bubble-like potential here, particularly on the back of the ETFs.  We have suggested some part of the rally in AI stocks likely is due to the ETFs.  When you buy an ETF, you’re buying into something like AI regardless of valuations and stretched charts.  Bitcoin shares had a good fourth quarter, in anticipation of the adoption of the new ETFs.  When this became a reality, it was a sell on the news event, particularly for the miners which dropped as much as 50%.  The recent strength could be about the so-called halving slated for April 20, which last time saw a subsequent quadruple for Bitcoin.  While this could be anticipatory buying resulting in another need to sell on the news, sufficient unto the day.

When we think of Biotech we think of those who discover the stuff, the drug companies those who sell the stuff.  Clearly the latter do both, but when you hear about “trial” most often it’s in reference to Biotech.  On Tuesday Janux Therapeutics (48) announced encouraging results in its trials for solid tumors, while Viking Therapeutics (77) announced positive results in a trial for obesity.  Janux Therapeutics more than tripled on the news to 50, while Viking only more than doubled to 85.  Most of us have learned, often the hard way, these trials are like standing at the roulette table and placing it all on red or black.  Still, positive outcomes can be extremely rewarding, as per the above.  Our suggestion is get a medical degree, a PhD in Biotech, and find a drop-dead smart guy who knows Biotech stocks.  Or consider the SPDR Biotech ETF (XBI-99).  It’s an Equal Weight ETF, meaning smaller companies like those above have a greater impact.

Too much of a good thing can be a problem, despite the counsel of Mae West.  The history of these glorious starts to a year is the likelihood of a stall around this time.  While the market has seemed a bit more rotational of late, the numbers about which we care the most, the A/Ds, show almost surprising strength – in keeping up with those unweighted averages.  While it may be time for a stall, we’ve chosen that word carefully.  When the average stock is acting as well as it is now, there would not seem great risk.  Valuations to our thinking, no surprise, are pretty much useless.  Most argue by P/E standards stocks are not expensive.  Yet valuations relative to the rest of the world are comparable to 2000, stocks relative to bonds are the most expensive in two decades.  Best to just pay attention to the market – most days most stocks go up.

Frank D. Gretz

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Every Trend Must Go Too Far

DJIA: 38,773

Every trend must go too far … and evoke its own reversal. Surprising how little has changed since Heraclitus made that observation back in 500 BC. The question, of course, is how far is too far? Typically, it’s further than you think. Most cries of some dire consequence come far too early, to the point they’re ignored when they finally come to fruition. And then there’s human nature. Who wants bad news when making money is fun? Realistically, did anyone really believe by putting dot-com behind a name made a company more valuable? Now it’s having some vague AI reference that does the trick. Keynes defined a speculative phase being when investors are buying merely because they believe they can soon sell for more – nothing to do with judgment or fundamentals. Think of the dot-coms, the meme stocks, and EFTs. The AI stocks are getting there, but unlikely there just yet.

If AI is in or is on its way to bubble status, unlike other bubbles there is this time an enabler called passive ETFs. ETFS have their virtues, allowing a sort of instant exposure to the market as a whole, or sectors of the market. The problem with ETFs is when like now, they seem to exaggerate an extreme. There are, for example, many ETFs which mimic an AI portfolio, passive in the sense hell or highwater, that’s what they buy. To buy one of these, like the Round Hill Magnificent Seven ETF (MAGS-37), that ETF is not going to go out and buy Procter & Gamble (157). They are going to buy more of what they already own, their mandate the Mag 7, regardless of valuation or stretched prices. The Nifty 50 became a bubble before ETFs, the dot-coms with a little help from ETFs. We suspect the AI stocks are enjoying plenty of help. We would not be surprised to see the Bitcoin stocks get a little help from their ETFs.

We have likened NVDA (727) now to Cisco (49) back in the fall of 1998. NVDA owns the AI world with its GPUs as Cisco owned the Internet world with its routers. They were and are, respectively, the way to play those innovations, the breeding ground by the way for most bubbles. NVDA and SMCI (1004) pretty much are tracking CSCO during its bubble phase, which if it sounds worrisome it is not. From the start of its bubble phase in late 1998, Cisco didn’t peak until March 2000. Then, too, maybe the ETFs will hasten things along. Psychologically speaking, for stocks like these the time to sell is it likely when you make up your mind you never will. As a check, every now and then look at that Cisco chart in 2000.

Tuesdays 10-to-1 A/Ds is the sort of number you might expect at market lows rather than a market making highs. With rates up a bit, blame the usual suspects – Financials. As we seem to never tire of saying, it’s not the bad down days but rather the bad up days that cause problems. Wednesday’s comeback was more than respectable, certainly not a bad up day, though the A/Ds still lag the Averages. Overall the backdrop has its problems, the most glaring of which shows up on the NASDAQ. Against almost daily highs in the Averages there, only 50% of those stocks are above their 200-day, that is, in uptrends. And last week there were just about as many 12-month new lows as 12-month highs there. A momentum driven market like this can override these divergences for a time. In 1987 the market ignored ongoing divergences from March to October, and then of course it didn’t. For sure this is not a time you want to see those bad up days.

Often confused are stocks and their companies. Stocks are not their companies. Stocks are pieces of paper, subject to many crosscurrents, the Fed being one, but only one. Companies may remain stable, yet their stocks subject to excesses both up and down. Back in March 2000 Cisco the company was doing fine, the Internet and Cisco’s routers were transforming the world. Cisco the stock fell 89%. It has been almost 25 years, best we can tell the Internet is still alive and well and so too Cisco the company. Yet Cisco the stock is still not back to its 2000 high. This is by way of perspective, not a call to sell AI. Indeed, bubbles are a wonderfully profitable time – while they last. An old Wall Street story is one of a wonderful party, enjoyed by all. Everyone knew there was a time the party would end – but the clock had no hands.

Frank D. Gretz

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Bubble, Bubble … No Toil or Trouble, Yet

DJIA:  38,726

Bubble, bubble … no toil or trouble, yet.  The idea of a bubble of course carries a negative connotation.  That’s about the bursting of a bubble, but obviously there’s plenty of money to be made before then.  They say you don’t recognize a bubble when you’re in one, but this AI bubble seems pretty clear.  Like this one, bubbles most often are associated with some innovation, in this case it’s AI, not that long ago it was the internet and the dot-coms.  But bubbles were also associated with what might now be considered mundane like autos, railroads, and even canals.  Even the meme bubble was associated with an innovation of sorts, day trading.  Bubbles are not new, and great while they last.

Timing bubbles, of course, is more than a little tricky.  Our guess, with a little recollection, is there will be a sizable correction someplace along the line, followed by a sizable recovery.  The latter is to teach you to buy the next selloff, the one you should be shorting rather than buying.  The good news is any end to this should be some time off, if history is a guide.  The rally, the melt up from 1998 to March 2000, began coincidentally on a surprise pivot by the Fed in October.  If you take Nvidia (696) as the poster child now, it is pretty much tracking the internet poster child back then, Cisco Systems (50).  If you recall, routers were the GPUs of their day.  History doesn’t repeat, and doesn’t rhyme, but it does offer some perspective.  Cisco didn’t peak until March 2000.

As the year began, hope sprang eternal that the fourth quarter’s secondary stock performance would continue. Hope there still springs eternal, but a distinction need be made on how to measure that performance.  The Russell 2000 may be considered the go to Index here, but its 20% weighting in Regional Banks has put it at a disadvantage.  Meanwhile the Equal Weight S&P (RSP-159) has found itself in a trading range since mid-December.  Somewhat ironically, the largest equity position in the Russell is Super Micro Computer (698), up some 300 points in the last three weeks.  Like virtually all Russell positions, however, the weighting is such it has failed to move the Index.

Sell on the news isn’t exactly a new idea when it comes to markets, but rarely have we seen it happen so dramatically as it has with Bitcoin.  To be fair the real weakness seems in what they call the Miners, where a representative ETF might be WGMI (15).  From its peak around 22 at the end of December it touched 11 just a few weeks ago, and since has recovered slightly.  Faring better have been pre-existing ETFs like Grayscale (41), which from its peak a few weeks ago around 44, fell to a low round 34 and now is back above its moving averages.  Bitcoin isn’t going away and as last quarter’s anticipatory binge settles in, it seems likely to have another good run.  After all, something like GBTC remains a correction in the uptrend which began in late 2022.

Last Friday saw what we call a bad up day – up in the Averages with negative A/Ds.  We paid the price for that, so to speak, with a 4-to-1 down day on Monday, but no follow through.  You wouldn’t know it to look at the Averages, but the market has lost some of its loving feeling, a.k.a., momentum.  As the Averages have moved higher, the A/D Index – the summation of the daily numbers – peaked back on December 27.  And the market has become more divided, with both a large number of 12-month new highs and 12-month new lows. Also, stocks above their various moving averages – 10, 50 and 200 day – have been rolling over since December.  It seems time for a little more caution.  Meanwhile, the S&P Healthcare sector recently saw 18% of components at 12-month highs, a number with significant implications.  The stocks moved higher over the next six months virtually every time.  Indeed, all of the momentum measures since the October low suggest the same for the market as a whole.

Frank D. Gretz

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And Then … There Were Five

DJIA:  37,468

And then … there were five.  Of the Magnificent Seven, two now seem a bit less so – the two being Apple (189) and Tesla (212).  Granted five out of seven good charts is not a bad win rate, but it makes the point the market in general has lost some participation.  The market, of course, still has all that momentum going for it out of the October low, but numbers like stocks above their various moving averages show a stall, as do the level of 12-month highs.  None of this is yet to show up meaningfully in the Averages, but that’s not unusual.   The exception perhaps is the Russell 2000 which recently had become everyone’s favorite.  The problem, of course, is the average stock eventually takes its toll on the rest.  So while the look for now might be called mixed, it’s likely to worsen.  Our measure of breadth momentum recently turned negative, having been positive for a couple of months.

Going through the charts the other day we thought we had missed a nuclear war somewhere, at least to look at the Uranium stocks.  Turns out the look came about for the more mundane reason of a shortage in supply.  And this realization came about almost overnight?  To look at the charts of URA (31), URNJ (28), URNM (56), CCJ (48) and others, you might have thought so, the moves were that dramatic.  Indeed, dramatic enough to look in need of a consolidation.  Meanwhile, war is hell, especially when it doesn’t rally your Defense stocks, and a Middle East war that doesn’t rally Oil.  We don’t mean to make light of war, what we’re making light of is that simple logic often fails when it comes to the stock market.  So should we worry why the cyber stocks act as well as they do?

We remain positive on our Other Magnificent Seven, all of which are in long-term uptrends – see the monthly rather than the daily charts.  Keep in mind, not all of the original Magnificent Seven are in long-term uptrends – Microsoft (394) being one, Netflix (485) being far from it. There are still other Others that seem attractive here, names like Accenture (360), Eaton (240), Molina Healthcare (381), Costco (687) and Waste Management (184).  According to IBD, and a few years of observation, as much as 75% of the movement in any stock is the function of the market’s overall trend.  It’s therefore hard to expect any stock to be immune in a market correction.  The advantage to the stocks we’ve mentioned is that they have those long-term uptrends as support.  The exception to stocks possibly immune to a correction would be defensive names like Food, and so on.  The problem here is when the correction ends, they underperform as money goes to stocks that have sold off.

Apparently even in China, the charts tell a story.  The Taiwan elections seemed a worry, but Chinese stocks were undaunted to start the week. Then came the deluge.  Onshore shares dropped to a five-year low, shares in Hong Kong and the US fared even worse.  What happened was a bleak picture of China’s recovery.  Home prices fell the most in nine years, while a measure of price change recorded its largest stretch of declines since 1999.   As Bloomberg’s John Authers put it, investors seemed to lose patience.  If it’s an ill wind – deflation there is good for inflation here.  Meanwhile, in the category of sell on the news/be careful what you wish for – how about that Bitcoin?  Even if a small fraction of 1% of the assets under management were allocated to Bitcoin, it would have a huge impact argues Marathon Digital’s CEO Fred Thiel.  Perhaps, but for now is it discounted?

They say they don’t ring a bell at the top.  We heard it ring and the Fed’s typically dovish Waller seemed to ring it.  Yet he said nothing the rest of them haven’t been saying for a while now in their effort to dampen the market’s enthusiasm.  So why this time did the market react so negatively?  The answer of course is simple – it’s not the same market.  Heraclitus (500 BC) might well have been talking about the stock market when he said you never step in the same river twice.  And the market, the river, is what matters – it’s the market that makes the news.  Given the momentum from the October low, we see this as a garden-variety correction.  Even so, bad news somewhere could see the VIX (14) rise to last October’s level in the low 20s.  It’s not a sell everything kind of decline, but it’s time to let go of your hope stocks, the stocks not going up but you hope will.

Frank D. Gretz

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What a Difference a Day Makes … It Doesn’t

DJIA:  37,771

What a difference a day makes … it doesn’t.  We’re thinking here of Monday, a more than good day.  After a tough start to the year, we feared what we’ve called a bad up day – higher in the Averages but flat or modestly positive A/Ds.  Monday was not that day.  The A/Ds were a more than respectable 3-to-1 up.  Still, and you might want to write this down, one day is just one day.  And one day is never analytically meaningful.  Some of the best one-day rallies have happened in bear markets, not that that’s relevant here.  The A/Ds need not be positive every day, but needed is a pattern of positive numbers.  Strong stocks like the Techs bore the brunt of the recent weakness.  The template here might be XLK (192) – down to the 50-day, and now bouncing.  It likely will take time to get back or through the highs for the stocks, but more important those lows around the 50-day now need to hold. 

A selloff in the year’s first week is always a bit surprising.  It has been said for tax considerations investors waited until the new year to take profits.  Logical enough, but the logic that escapes us is why profit-taking at all, particularly in stocks that have acted so well.  The only logical explanation we can see is to move on to other areas, which seems to have been the case if we look to almost anything in Healthcare.  Rather than try to explain why the market does what it does, best just to recognize it and take it for what it is.  Techs were sold hard enough to take them down to the 50-day.  Still, Healthcare was bought hard enough to leave them now in impressive uptrends.  The Averages suffered simply as a function of the differing market caps.  If not exactly a zero-sum game, it could’ve been worse – selling in one area without commensurate buying in the other.

While the jockeying around we’re seeing could go on for a while, it’s important to remember the market has the momentum of the last two months at its back.  S&P stocks above the 50-day and the reversal in the Russell both say higher prices over the next six months.  To that you can add a positive change in junk bonds.  Here the 50-day moving average of its A/D Index rose above the 200-day, a so-called “golden cross.”  This seems important for a couple reasons.  Junk or high-yield bonds can be thought of as the most sensitive of corporate credit.  So in terms of the economy’s financial health, all seems well.  In terms of the stock market, these crossings have seen the S&P rise at a near 15% annualized rate, according to SentimenTrader.com.

While you have been sleeping, so to speak, China has been quietly drifting lower.  Clearly there are some real problems in the form of real estate and debt there.  They claim to be growing at 5% yet intend to stimulate.  If they’re really growing at 5%, they shouldn’t need to stimulate.  Meanwhile, the charts there are across the board poor.  With all the focus on the Fed, rates, and the Middle East, we are not sure how, but China could be a problem that sneaks up on markets.  It’s often where you’re not looking that causes the problems.  Meanwhile, despite the prospect of an expanded war in the Middle East, defense stocks seem unfazed.  Of course, the ETFs here have been hurt by Boeing (223).  What have acted well are the cyber security stocks like Palo Alto (323) and CrowdStrike (285).

Wednesday seemed like old times – at least for Nvidia (548), Meta (370) and Microsoft (385).  As for Apple (186), it may be time to think Magnificent 6.  On behalf of Tech and other strong stocks, let’s hear it for the 50-day.  Meanwhile, it’s a brave New World for most of Healthcare.  So far so good it would seem overall, but that’s a bit superficial.  A breadth momentum measure we follow closely has turned negative for the first time in two months.  After the strength in the fourth quarter some setback had seemed likely – February is typical, but you never know.  Meanwhile, it’s time to waste time on the January effect.  January is thought to be predictive of the year, the first five days predictive of the month.  This year the S&P was basically unchanged the first five days, not a great sign – outcomes proved poor over the next couple months historically.  Looking at the entire month of January, when up the next 11 months were positive 78% of the time, when negative only 59%.  By the way, the month of April is more predictive.

Frank D. Gretz

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Wring Out the Old … Ring in the New?  

DJIA:  37,440

Wring out the old … ring in the new?   Quite a change to start this or any new year.  Profit-taking in last year’s winners and dip buying in last year’s losers.  It also saw some interesting numbers on that first day of trading – the Dow modestly higher, a very weak NAZ and 1700 advancing issues.  All things being equal, not a bad configuration. Those A/D numbers were pretty much the same for the NASDAQ, surprising given the weakness there.  Clearly Tech was the most prominent part of the weakness, but it was almost anything that has done well recently.  Meanwhile, just when you thought a stock like Hershey (191) might never lift it, other food and pharma stocks did quite well.  The question, of course, for how long.  With the overall background favorable, ideally this dichotomy will meet in the middle.

Despite this week’s setback, history and its probabilities still seem on the market’s side. The upside momentum we’ve seen carries with it some impressive outcomes.  If we look at the broader S&P 1500, 90% of the components there are above their 50-day average, a number with a 90% probability of higher prices six months later, according to SentimenTrader.com.  The Equal Weight version of the S&P (RSP-155) has cycled from a 52-week low to a 52-week high near record time, also suggesting higher prices over the next six months.  Of course, probabilities are not certainties, but they should put the odds in your favor.  If God told us to buy 1000 S&P call options, we would first say thanks, and then ask where to put our stop.  For the S&P, the Index is teetering on its exponential 21-day weighted averages, one utilized by IBD.  Granted it’s a trader’s measure, but the S&P has been above it since November 2, making any break somewhat noteworthy.

The worry we have about Tech is that everyone treats the stocks like they are the companies.  They’re not – they are pieces of paper and pieces of paper can become over owned, or just go out of favor.  One of our favorite charts is a long-term chart of McDonald’s (292) from the 70s and early 80s.  McDonald’s in 1973 peaked approximately at 75, went down to 22 in 1974, rebounded to 66 in early 1976 and then went sideways for the next five years.  Interestingly, the earnings continued growing throughout the decade at a compounded rate of 25% a year and the company never missed a quarter.  Despite all that, by its 1980 low McDonald’s was selling at 10 times trailing 12-months earnings, compared with selling at 75 times trailing 12-months earnings in 1973.  Even good stocks can become over owned and/or fall out of favor.   

With the leadership dust more than a little unsettled, a stock like McDonald’s might make sense.  It didn’t have a great year last year, thanks to a 20% drawdown in August – September, but has a more than decent uptrend going for it now.  Also going for it, it could easily be among our Other Mag Seven stocks in that it has a great long-term pattern.   As things sort themselves out, you might also look to Oil which also didn’t have a great year in 2023, and it has failed to respond to threats in the Gulf.  Still, if not quite ready for prime time, the stocks are shaping up, and are among the laggards that are a recent market focus.  Among the better charts are Diamondback (156) and Phillips 66 (135).

Tech isn’t going away, but it could go dormant.  Not dormant like MCD in the 70s, but dormant relative to last year.  Clearly it’s too soon to say, weakness there is what the old westerns used to call a flesh wound.  The stocks of course have had runs that deserve a break, and now there seem options.  If Hershey is not on your diet, there are many healthcare stocks with good short and long-term patterns – even most of Biotech has a turn.  With all the recent cross currents, the best guide to overall market health isn’t the NAZ, S&P, or even the RSP, it’s the average stock.  Because the large caps dominate the Averages, the Averages for now can be almost misleading.  Dare we say, look to the A/Ds as a better guide to market health.  When most days most stocks, go up, whatever they may be, markets don’t get into trouble.

Frank D. Gretz

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… Thank You J. Powell

DJIA:  37,248

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… thank you J. Powell.  In reality, it’s the market’s momentum off of the October low that should be thanked.  We have alluded to the 6-to-1 up day a couple of weeks ago and the 10- to-1 up day of 11/14, and now Wednesday’s 7-to-1 up day.  It’s important to remember these occurred within a cluster of positive days, recently five, rather than standalone events.  Stocks above their 200-day have more than doubled from the October low, and more than half of the S&P reached a 21-day high last week.  This also happened a year ago when the market began an 8% rally.  Perhaps most important in any discussion of momentum is the idea of its durability – it doesn’t turn on a dime, rather it takes time to unwind. The other part of the analytical equation is investor psychology, or sentiment, always difficult to interpret this time of year.  The VIX has dropped to 12 from the low 20s, not a worry in December.

It may be a wonderful time of year, but December isn’t always easy.  Recently, IBM (163) has outperformed Microsoft (366) and Intel (45) has beaten Nvidia (484).   As measured by the Roundhill Magnificent Seven ETF (MAGS-33), those leaders have been stalled for a month now.  We suspect this might simply be called December.  Meanwhile, Monday saw six of our Other Magnificent Seven reach 12-month highs, and Parker Hannifin (455) had done so a few days earlier.   Either we are better than we thought or there’s more to this market than just Tech.  Then, too, it could be an early indicator of a shift away from over priced/over loved Tech, but it seems a bit premature to go there.  Certainly the charts are intact, and for now pause seems more the correct take.  When it comes to our Other Mag Seven, the added appeal seems their long-term uptrends – see the monthly charts.

Of our Other Mag Seven, many have an economic leaning. We’re thinking here of names like Cintas (563) and Fastenal (64) among others.  Grainger (829) has a segment called “endless assortment,” Cintas deals in uniforms and other workplace supplies, while Fastenal does nuts and bolts – not very techy techy, as Penny might say. That these companies act as well as they do helps assuage our worries about the economy.  Nonetheless, and you can quote us here, you never know.  While the tightening may be done the lag effects of that tightening may not be completely clear.  On the positive side, the world did change in October.  Yields peaked, the Banks and every other rate-sensitive area began strong rallies.  Rates remain high enough to impact the economy, but the market has taken a decidedly optimistic view here.

Natural gas has been under pressure to the point that the worst may well be over.  However, there is a seasonal pattern which started November 4 and will persist until February 15.  During this period Nat Gas has been lower 25 of 32 years.  If not lower, odds are for continued underperformance. Since Nat Gas is typically in Contango, a Spanish dance we presume, there is a downward bias to the UNG ETF (5), according to SentimenTrader.com. Also of note is an apparent washout in Consumer Staples.  Back in October half of the stocks in the XLP (71) reached a 52-week low, capitulation sort of numbers.  Stocks there above the 50-day were only 5% and since have moved above 80%.  This sort of extreme momentum shift has led to higher prices in almost every case. The real impact starts around now, typically some two months after the washout.

Good news out of Powell?  Who would’ve guessed.  We had expected his usual “lean against” performance, which the market then ignores.  The Fed it seems now sees what the market has been seeing for a while. Meanwhile, of course, it’s the market that makes the news, and it’s a market that has acted well since the October low.  Someone once said the secret to forecasting is to keep forecasting.  Forecasting is hard – we prefer to stick with observing.  It’s a strong market.  When that changes we will follow the advice of Keynes and change our mind. The change, of course, will typically show up in the average stock rather than the stock averages.  Through all this, there have been bad days, but no bad up days – days up in the Averages with negative A/Ds.

Frank D. Gretz

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Momentum Isn’t Something That’s Borrowed

DJIA:  36,117

They say November borrowed from December.  Momentum isn’t something that’s borrowed, it’s something that unwinds of its own accord.  Last Friday’s 6-to-1 up day and the 10-to-1 up day of 11/14 speak to momentum which will take time to unwind.  December’s early problems might best be blamed on December – it’s a good month but one rife with crosscurrents.  Will they continue to sell the winners, the Mag 7 and the rest of the Tech, and buy the losers, the Financials and the rest?  Or will they revert to the winners – Apple (194) did break out on Tuesday.  Regardless of the outcome there, the sold out seem just that – sold out and unlikely to go lower.

All Bitcoin wants for Christmas is its ETF.  It may not be for Christmas, but it’s said to be in early January.  What is seen as inevitable rate cuts also has been a driver for Bitcoin, and the usual suspect short covering.  We are not quite sure of the logic here, but we are sure of those lines on a piece of paper called a chart.   It’s an impressive break out and uptrend.  Bitcoin, of course, isn’t for everyone.  And it may well be another case of buy the rumor, sell the news.  Still, it seems another case of momentum not likely to go away in a hurry.  The existing ETF, BITO (21) seems a reasonable way to participate.

Frank D. Gretz

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Sufficient Unto the Day… Is the Evil Thereof

DJIA:  35,950

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

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The Other Magnificent 7

The OTHER Magnificent 7

The Magnificent 7 have lived up to their billing.  We would contend, however, there is an “OTHER” Magnificent 7 with as good or even better charts both medium-term and, especially long-term.  Smaller in market-cap they don’t drive the market averages, and therefore don’t seem to get the attention they deserve.  While we’ve chosen seven, we easily could’ve chosen another seven that fit this criteria.

Frank Gretz

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