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That Was Quick

160701MarketHealth

Last week we got a market risk warning due to the surprise of the Brexit vote. This week, that warning has been cleared as market participants realize it will take a couple of years to sort out… so they can wait until then to panic. My core market health indicators, with the exception of trend, improved last week. The overall numbers are still soft, but positive enough to change the portfolio allocations to the following. Volatility Hedged portfolio: 100% long Long / Short Hedged portfolio: 80% long high beta stocks and 20% short the S&P 500 Index (or the ETF SH) Long / Cash portfolio: 60% long and 40% cash One thing of note that happened over the past few weeks is the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) created a new secondary high near 8110. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) also created a new secondary high near 18100. DJIA is above November 2015 secondary high, but DJTA is below all of its recent secondary highs. As a result, Dow

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Market Risk Warning

160624MarketHealth

Just a quick note, my Market Risk Indicator is warning today. As a result, the portfolio allocations are now as follows: Volatility Hedged portfolio: 50% long and 50% hedged with mid term volatility (and ETF/ETN similar to VXZ) Long / Short Hedged portfolio: 50% long high beta stocks and 50% hedged with mid term volatility Long / Cash portfolio: 100% cash I suspect it will take a couple of weeks to see what the fallout of Brexit will be. Until the market has less risk the portfolios will remain hedged or in cash. FYI, the market risk warning takes precedence over my core market health indicators.

 
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Market Risk Rising

160617MarketHealth

This past week has seen a significant increase in my stock market risk indicator components. Currently, two of the four components are warning, however, three components warned at times during the week. The fourth component still has a bit of room before creating a market risk signal. With the market so close to all time highs it is odd behavior to see market participants so skittish. The behavior I’m seeing in the indicator components is similar to the action during the dip in mid June 2011. This isn’t a prediction of any decline to come, merely a heads up to let you know that a warning could come quickly if the market continues to fall. Risk is rising, but we don’t have a warning yet so there is no change to the Volatility Hedged portfolio. It remains 100% long. My core market health indicators are still suffering damage as the market dips. Most significantly, my measures of trend could go negative over the next few weeks if the market can’t

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Core Market Risk Clears

160311MarketHealth

All of my core market health indicators bounced around this week without much change. However, my core measures of risk moved enough to go positive. This changes the core portfolio allocations as follows: Long / Cash portfolio: 40% long and 60% cash Long / Short hedged portfolio: 70% long high beta stocks and 30% short the S&P 500 Index (or use SH) Volatility hedged portfolio: 100% long (since 3/4/16)  

 
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Is the Bear Market Over?

160306MarketRisk

On Friday my market risk indicator cleared its warning. Does that mean the bear market is over? I doubt it. I’ll show you why in several charts below, but lets start with a longer view of market risk indicator warnings. Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see that the indicator is prone to whipsaws. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the indicator generally warns at inflection points — right before the market resumes its uptrend or accelerates to the downside. It also often clears just as the market is peaking. Especially, when the market is entering a more volatile phase like late 2007 thru early 2008, then again in the summer of 2011. I suspect that’s what we’re seeing now… but because I can’t see the future I set my bias aside and follow the signals. Who knows, this recent signal could be followed by a huge rally like the cleared warning in 2012. Long story even longer, the indicator has a lot of whipsaws, but the

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Market Risk Clears

160304MarketHealth

My market risk indicator cleared its warning this week. As a result, the volatility hedge will go 100% long.  In addition, the core portfolios will remove their aggressive hedge and replace it with a short of the S&P 500 Index (SPX). My core market health indicators all improved with the exception of market quality. My measures of the economy improved enough to go positive which will change the core portfolio allocations a follows. Long / Cash portfolio: 20% long and 80% cash Long / Short portfolio: 60% long high beta stocks and 40% short the S&P 500 Index (or use the ETF SH) Volatility Hedged portfolio: 100% long Below is a chart of recent market risk indicator signals. As I noted in January, the market risk indicator signals near inflection points where the market either turns back up quickly or accelerates to the downside. This signal has the same appearance as the 2012 and 2015 signals, where the market traded slightly lower after the signal, but the warning didn’t clear

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More Improvement

160226MarketHealth

Over the past week all of my core market health indicators improved. However, as you can see, they are all still deep in negative territory. They are clearly showing weakness in underlying market internals. There is a slight chance that a continued rally next week might bring my measures of core market risk and/or measures of the economy positive. In order to accomplish the feat it will require a continuation of the strong rally currently underway. My market risk indicator has been trying to clear this week, but hasn’t been able to right itself. Next week will be key for this indicator. I suspect it will clear unless the market turns back down with some momentum behind it. Even a consolidation at current levels would likely clear the warning. Conclusion All of my indicators are still negative, but the recent rally has removed some of the underlying damage. Next week will likely be a make or break moment for the market.

 
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It’s Ugly Out There

160115MarketHealth

Wow. What a week. Like the market all of my core health indicators got hammered. They are now all deep in negative territory. I’ll let the chart speak for itself. One thing of note is that my market risk indicator is now signalling. This changes the volatility hedged portfolio to 50% long and 50% hedged with mid term volatility (an ETF/ETN like VXZ) or dynamic volatility (XVZ). For official tracking purposes I use XVZ, but the instrument is thinly traded so it introduces problems in actual portfolio management. First is that thin trading means it is difficult to fill large trades at a good “market” price. Second is that in a swiftly declining market the bid may as much as 20% below the market so you’ll have difficulty getting out of the position (or rebalancing) when pure panic has set in. As a result, I personally use mid term volatility like VXZ instead of dynamic volatility. But, since the back test has been done with XVZ I’ll continue to use

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Core Portfolios Fully Hedged or All Cash

160108MarketHealth

As I mentioned on Monday, the damage done to the core indicators would be hard to overcome and that the intermediate term trend is now likely down. Since Monday things have only gotten worse. All of my core indicators dipped even deeper into the red. As a result, the core portfolio allocations are now fully hedged or 100% in cash. My market risk indicator has three of four components warning at the moment, but the forth is still positive. That leaves the volatility hedged portfolio 100% long. Here’s a complete list of the allocations: Long / Cash portfolio: 100% cash Long / Short Hedged portfolio: 50% long high beta stocks and 50% short the S&P 500 index (or use SH) Volatility Hedged portfolio: 100% long As an example of the broken intermediate term trend here’s a point and figure chart of the S&P 500 index. The damage done this week was pretty significant, but looking longer term there is still the possibility that once the current correction has ended we’ll

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Market Health Holds Steady

151204MarketHealth

Over the past week my core market health indicators held steady as the market whipped back and forth. The lack of movement in the indicators while the market was falling sharply on Wednesday and Thursday indicates internal strength. None of the core indicators moved enough to change any portfolio allocations. One thing of note this week is that the sharp dip didn’t cause any of my measures of risk to move much. Market participants aren’t reacting to downward price moves. One illustration of fear comes from price targets gleaned from the Twitter stream for the S&P 500 Index (SPX). On the chart below each red dot represents multiple market participants tweeting the same price level for SPX. Notice that the declines in early and late 2014 put enough fear in the market to result in a fair amount of lower price targets on dips for several months. Traders got skittish and tweeted their fears of how low the market might fall. The August / September correction didn’t result in the

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