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No Portfolio Changes This Week

Just a quick note this week. The damage done to our core indicators hasn’t been repaired by the rally back near the old highs in the S&P 500 Index. Part of the reason our indicators are having trouble clearing is a result of the steep V pattern being painted so fast that price is outrunning everything else (causing our indicators to lag). Unfortunately, that isn’t the only problem. A larger problem is that our measures of the economy and market quality are still falling. This poses a longer term problem for the market as a whole. So here we are, back at all time highs and hedged. Long time readers know this isn’t a cause for concern…because hedging isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s about acknowledging I can’t see the future so I simply hedge out risk if our indicators are warning or unclear. Our current allocations for the long/cash portfolios are 100% cash. Our hedged portfolio is 50% long stocks we believe will out perform the market in

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Some Indicators Work at Tops – Others at Bottoms

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I had the honor of being on a panel with JC Parets, Chris Kimble, Ryan Detrick, and Charlie Bilello at Stocktoberfest this year. They are a great group of guys with a wealth of information that should be in everyone’s daily must read list (and of course follow them on Twitter and StockTwits too). For those of you who couldn’t attend, below are a few charts I shared to illustrate that some indicators work better at tops and others at bottoms. In addition, I did a presentation in behalf of Trade Followers. You can see the images from that presentation here.

 
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Softening Hedge

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Our Market Risk Indicator cleared its warning this week. However, our core measures of market health are still mired in negative territory. As a result, we’ll be softening the hedge in the hedged portfolio and staying 100% in cash in the long/cash portfolios. To soften the hedge we’re removing put options and/or volatility products. For the model portfolio we’re selling ETFs or ETNs like VXZ, VIXM, or XVZ and replacing it with at short of the S&P 500 Index (you can use the symbol SH). The end result is a portfolio that is roughly 50% long stocks we believe will outperform in an uptrend (high beta stocks are likely candidates for the hedged portfolio) and 50% short the S&P 500 Index. Below is a chart with the changes in our portfolio allocations over the past year. Green lines represent adding exposure, yellow lines are reducing exposure (and adding SH as a hedge), red lines are market risk signals where the hedged portfolio uses instruments that benefit from increasing volatility as

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Market Risk Update

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Our market risk indicator warned on 10/10/14 and since that time the market has dropped and recovered in an extremely sharp V formation. The quick move is causing the indicator to whipsaw on a daily basis. It has been moving back and forth between warning and clearing the warning. If the market doesn’t fall sharply between now and Friday I expect the warning to be cleared which will cause a whipsaw hedge signal as discussed in this post. With that said, the picture is still cloudy so we’ll have to wait until week’s end for clarification. As always, I’ll post before the last hour of trading with an official call (and any portfolio allocation changes). One point on the issue of whipsaws. Please be aware that this indicator is specifically designed to warn of the heightened possibility of quick drops in the market. It has a good record of warning before big declines, but also has a lot of whipsaws. As a result, we use it mainly for a signal to

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What Next?

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Our Market Risk Indicator signaled last Friday in the last hour of trading which caused us to add an aggressive hedge to the hedged portfolio. I have to say that I was surprised to see an acceleration of the selling without some consolidation near the 200 day moving average for the S&P 500 Index (SPX) first. The reason for my surprise is that the market had already fallen sharply before the signal came and that condition often causes whip saws in the indicator. The market has since recovered much of the decline from earlier in the week. So what do we do next? If the market continues to rally I suspect that our risk indicator will clear its warning within a week or so (similar to the whip saws in March and June of 2011 on the chart below – Note: red lines are risk signals, blue lines are cleared warnings). If this happens then we’ll change our hedge back to a simple short of the S&P 500 index (using

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Short Covering Rally

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In late September I showed a chart that I use for general clues about the market. It compares a short of the S&P 500 Index (SH), an actively managed short fund (HDGE), and mid-term volatility (VXZ). In that post I mentioned that even though SH wasn’t showing any concern, HDGE and VXZ were. HDGE was telling us that traders were shorting stocks and their shorts were working. VXZ was telling us that investors were getting concerned about performance of the market going into year end. That same chart is now telling me that this bounce is merely short covering by traders so far. HDGE is falling while SH is still rising. This indicates the worst stocks are being bought during this dip while big caps (S&P 500 Index – SPX) are still being sold. In addition, mid-term volatility (VXZ) is still holding up which tells us that investors are still worried about a decline going into year end. I’m seeing the same condition expressed by traders and investors on Twitter.

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Dow Theory Still Confirming Bullish Trend

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After seeing our core portfolios taking the most cautious stance they can last Friday I’m guessing you’re surprised that I’m writing a post telling you that according to Dow Theory the long term bullish trend is still intact. I’m also guessing that somewhere in the next few days you’ll read or hear people saying a Dow Theory sell signal has just been triggered. Those misinformed people will cite the fact that today both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) have closed below their previous lows. There are two problems with people calling a Dow Theory sell signal today. The first is that there is no such thing as a Dow Theory sell signal. The second problem (which is moot because the first problem negates it…but I’ll keep writing for those of you who still aren’t convinced) is that although both averages closed below their previous lows today, they didn’t close below their previous secondary low points. One of the major requirements for a

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Moving to Cash or Full Hedge

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The volatility in the market over the past week was accompanied by a deterioration in all of our core market health indicators. Every category is now negative. As a result, our long/cash portfolio allocations are now 100% cash. Our hedged portfolio allocation is 50% long stocks we believe will out perform the market in an uptrend and 50% short the S&P 500 Index (ticker symbol SH). Please note that this isn’t a prediction of a market decline. Instead it is simply acknowledgement that enough things are wrong with our underlying indicators that I feel it prudent to step aside until the indicators give clear positive signs. UPDATE 3:32 PM Eastern – OUR MARKET RISK INDICATOR SIGNALED AFTER THIS INITIAL POST. AS A RESULT, OUR HEDGED PORTFOLIO WILL USE AN AGGRESSIVE HEDGE. Our Market Risk Indicator is very close to a warning, but it hasn’t yet (2 PM Eastern). It will take a steep sell off in today’s remaining trading session to create a signal. If it signals before the close

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Breadth Checkup

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I’ve stated several times over the past year that breadth must deteriorate for the market to fall substantially. In mid July I pointed out the weakness in the ratio between the S&P 500 index (SPX) and SPX equal weighted (SPXEW). When it falls below its 20 week moving average it is often a sign of choppy markets to come. The market rallied after SPXEW’s initial failure, but during that rally SPXEW only made it back to the underside of its 20 week moving average then turned back over again taking the market with it. This is a great example of how tops are a process, not a single event. I’m not suggesting that we’ve seen the top, but wanted to point out how much time it takes for one indicator after another to weaken, then fail, before a top is actually in place. Tops usually take several months and are often fraught with whipsaws in our indicators (and portfolio allocations) before the weight of selling causes a severe down turn.

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Watch Financials, Technology, and Health Care

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During the dip over the past two or three weeks financial, technology, and health care stocks have kept the strongest support on Twitter. They are emerging as new leaders that could fuel a rally into the end of the year. If they begin to fail then a larger correction is likely ahead. You can read the full article at Trade Followers.

 
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