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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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Core Risk Falling

Just a quick note. My measures of core risk are falling. With an inverted scale this is making the core risk category go positive. None of the other measures of market health are positive yet. So if the measures of risk stay positive into the close tomorrow (Friday) the core portfolios will be adding some exposure as follows. Long / Cash portfolio: 20% long and 80% cash Long / Short Hedged portfolio: 60% long high beta stocks and 40% short the S&P 500 Index (or use the ETF SH) I’ll make a post with a final call an hour before the market closes tomorrow, but wanted to give you a heads up so you can plan on what longs you’d like to hold.

 
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Market Risk Cleared

151009MarketHealth

As I mentioned on Tuesday, my market risk indicator cleared during the week and the positive readings have held throughout the week. However, my core market health indicators are all still below zero. This changes the portfolio allocations as follows. Long / Cash portfolio: 100% cash Long / Short Hedged portfolio: 50% long stocks I believe will outperform in and uptrend and 50% short the S&P 500 Index Volatility Hedged portfolio: 100% long As was the case in mid August the core indicators don’t like the current market internals, but the perception of risk is low. You’ll need to assess your own needs and risk tolerance to decide how much of a hedge (if any) you leave on your portfolio. If you’d rather use an ETF for the long portion of your portfolio here are some ideas on how to find one. Look at the comments too as a reader found several ETFs that met the high beta criteria. At the end of August I wrote a post explaining why

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ETFs vs Stocks With a Hedge

SPHBsectors

Yesterday my market risk indicator moved back to positive territory. It’s looking like price above 1975 on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is roughly the level where the risk indicator clears so you can use that level for planning during the week. If the readings can hold into Friday it will clear the current market risk warning. If that happens it will result in the Volatility Hedged portfolio going 100% long (for official tracking purposes I use SPX for the longs). The Core Long/Short Hedged portfolio will remove the aggressive hedge (mid term volatility) and replace it with a short of SPX (or using SH). The longs for the core portfolio are stocks that should outperform the market during an uptrend (high beta stocks). As I mentioned above I use SPX for tracking the Volatility Hedged portfolio, but I personally use high beta stocks with that strategy. Recently I’ve been asked if an ETF can be used for the long portion of the core portfolio rather than stocks. The answer

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Getting Comfortable With Volatility

151002MarketHealth

The most significant thing I’m seeing this week is my measures of risk strengthening amid large range days and high volatility. Market participants are getting comfortable with wide swings in their portfolios. The improvement in my measures of risk still aren’t enough to clear my market risk indicator, but a continued rally next week just might do it. On the other hand, my measures of stock market quality, trend, and strength all fell this week even with four days of rally. This action is similar to what I was seeing a few weeks ago that indicate we’re probably seeing another dead cat bounce. Last week I said that I intended to take some profit from the hedge if the market retested the August low. I didn’t do it for a couple of reasons. The major reason is that at the lows on Monday the hedged portfolios were roughly allocated still at 50% long, 33% aggressively hedged (with mid term volatility), 17% short the S&P 500 Index. As a result, I

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Core Indicators Turn Back Down

150918MarketHealth

Last week I mentioned that I thought the small triangle consolidation would be broken to the upside before the market ultimately turns lower. We’ve had the break higher and the turn lower so the market is now at a very critical junction. The action over the next few weeks will likely point not only the short and intermediate term direction, but determine the long term trend as well. It is critical that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJTA) hold the August lows or the long term trend will almost certainly be down. If on the other hand, the indexes can hold up the odds increase that the worst is behind us. My core market health indicators with the exception of risk all declined this week. This isn’t the type of action I like to see during a rally. It suggests that we’re seeing a dead cat bounce rather than a resumption of the uptrend. It appears that more time (and probably price weakness)

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Consolidation

150911spxLine

Three weeks ago my market risk indicator signaled which caused me to change the portfolio allocations to an aggressive hedge. After the decline into the August 25th low the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has been consolidating…although in a very wide and loose fashion. The current rally is consolidating the steep losses after the break of 2040 on SPX. As a result, the most likely resolution will be a break lower sometime in the next few weeks. However, my expectation is that the short term triangle from daily closing prices will be broken to the upside before the market ultimately turns lower. Looking at a point an figure chart which removes the linear time scale shows the consolidation and volatility much more clearly than a line chart. The current down trend line is on target to meet price at about 2000 on SPX which should provide some resistance. The 50 day moving average for SPX is also on a trajectory that should meet price near the 2000 level as well. The

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Volatility Begets Volatility

150828vix

Many people have the mistaken idea that high volatility (VIX) means falling markets. They’ve been trained by financial news outlets to associate volatility with fear. This notion is only half right. Volatility is also connected to greed. In reality, volatility is a reflection of the size of a price movement regardless of the direction. Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see that during the late 1990s price was rising, but in wide daily ranges. This caused VIX to rise substantially while the market was going up. VIX went up from about 10 to 27 (170%) while the S&P 500 index (SPX) almost doubled from late 1995 to just before the Russian financial crisis of 1998. So without much “fear” in the market VIX nearly tripled. After the Russian financial crisis VIX stayed elevated in a range between roughly 19 and 30 as SPX climbed 38%. Large range days while the market was rising created an elevated VIX. SIDE NOTE: I’m using VIX to show the price move

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