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Core Portfolios Getting Cautious

150724MarketHealth

Over the past week most of my core market health indicators fell. Most notable is my measures of the economy which have gone negative. As a result, the core portfolios are adding a larger hedge or raising cash. Below are the current core portfolio allocations. Long / Cash: Long 40% – Cash 60% Long / Short: Long 70% – Short the S&P 500 Index 30% My market risk indicator currently has two of four indicators warning, but the other two a long way away from a signal. It appears that people aren’t too concerned about the current dip. In the absence of any risk event (i.e. Greece, Ebola, etc.) my risk indicator generally won’t signal without serious price deterioration. As a result, the Volatility Hedge stays long during “normal” consolidation periods. It is currently 100% long and I expect it to stay that way unless we see a steeper decline ensue. Below is a chart with changes to the core portfolio allocations over the past year. Green lines represent adding

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Bottom Falling Out

Published on July 22, 2015 by in Market Comments
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I’m starting to see signs that market participants are abandoning their losers and pressing their shorts. When this occurs near all time highs it often means some pain is ahead for the major indexes. Here are some charts that serve as examples. First is NYSE New Highs / Lows. New lows have now risen above the point when the S&P 500 Index (SPX) was making lows in early July and last December. This indicates market participants aren’t bottom fishing. Instead, they’re abandoning positions that are causing too much pain. Another point of interest in this chart is that NYSE didn’t recover much from both June and July lows. This type of divergence from SPX is troubling. The Russell 2000 Index (RUT) and Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJIA) are also showing negative divergences from SPX. Next is a chart that compares a short of the S&P 500 Index (SH) and an actively managed bear fund (HDGE). SH has fallen to new lows while HDGE is holding up. This indicates that traders

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Still Healthy Intermediate Term

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Last week I mentioned that my intermediate term indicators strengthened while some short term indicators that I follow were showing weakness. This week I’m seeing the short term indicators right themselves and the intermediate term indicators continue to strengthen. This increases the odds that the market will finally break out of the current range to the upside. Of course, price is truth so 2120 on the S&P 500 index must be decisively broken to the upside (along with the current Dow Theory line breakouts) for confirmation that the next intermediate term trend is underway. One positive indicator comes from support and resistance levels generated from the Twitter stream. Traders are now tweeting higher price targets which indicates they’re putting on bullish trades. Another positive sign this week is NYSE new highs are rising and new lows are falling as the market gets close to new all time highs. We still want to see new highs break its recent down trend for confirmation that investors are willing to buy shares that

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Adding Exposure Due to Measures of Trend

150320MarketHealth

Over the past week our core market health indicators bounced around a bit, but mostly improved. Our core measures of risk improved after a few weeks of falling closer to the zero line. One thing that is concerning in this category is a few of the indicators have been painting lower highs since July 2014. Our measures of the economy turned back down this week after trying to complete bottom formations. Our measures of market quality and strength fell as well. The good news came from our measures of trend. They finally went positive. As a result, our core portfolio allocations will change to reduce cash and/or short positions and increase long positions. The new allocations are as follows. Long / Cash: 80% long and 20% cash Long / Short: 90% long stocks we believe will outperform in an up trend and 10% short the S&P 500 Index (using SH). Volatility Hedge: Remains 100% long (since 10/24/14). This is a result of our market risk indicator’s strong readings. None of

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Market Health Improving

150213markethealth

Over the past week our core market health indicators rose sharply again. Everything with the exception of our measures of the economy are hovering right near a pivot point. Our measures of market strength have gone positive while measures of risk, quality, and trend are barely negative. It appears that those three categories will most likely go positive next week if the S&P 500 Index (SPX) breaks to new highs. Overall I’m seeing healthy behavior after six weeks of consolidation. With the current conditions starting to look positive we’re adding a bit more exposure to the core portfolios. The long / cash portfolio will now be 20% long and 80% cash. The long / short (hedge) portfolio will be 60% long stocks that we believe will outperform SPX in up trends and 40% hedged with a short of SPX (or using SH). The volatility hedged portfolio remains 100% long (since 10/24/14) due to no signs of extreme risk in the market. Below is a chart with the core portfolio changes

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Risk on the Rise and Core Indicators Oversold

150116MarketHealth

Over the past week our core measures of risk fell into negative territory. It was the last category to go negative. Our other measures of market health started going negative in early September and haven’t recovered. In fact, they have continued to deteriorate to the point where several of our indicators are now oversold. Our measures of market quality and strength are at points that have often marked lows similar to May 2012 and April 2013. The only recent occurrence of oversold conditions when the market was close to all time highs came in early 2008 and persisted into July/August of 2008. This puts the market in a position where it could go either way. Until conditions clear our Long / Cash portfolios will be 100% in cash. Our Long / Short hedged portfolio will be 50% long stock that we believe will outperform in an uptrend (high beta stocks) and 50% short the S&P 500 Index (using SH or a short of SPY). Our Market Risk Indicator has only

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Risk Rising

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Once again our core measures of risk are negative. They’ve been there all week long. I suspect that it will take a close above 2050 on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by Friday to get the category positive. That’s about the point where SPX has been when the risk measures flip. If they are negative on Friday the Long / Cash portfolios will go 100% to cash. The hedged (Long / Short) portfolio will be 50% long high beta stocks and 50% short SPX. Our market risk indicator has three of four components warning at the moment. The fourth component continues to slowly fall, but hasn’t gone negative yet. The volatility hedge is still 100% long and will stay that way unless the fourth component falls by the end of the week. One thing I’m seeing is a lot of mixed signals…I’ll post more about them on Friday, but here are a few examples. NYAD advance / declines are acting well, but the percent of stocks above their 200 day

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Risk Falling

141121allocations

Over the past week most of our core market health indicators improved a bit. Our core measures of risk made it into positive territory. As a result, long/cash allocations will now be 20% long and 80% cash. The hedged portfolio will be 60% long stocks we believe will out perform in an uptrend and 40% short the S&P 500 Index (SH). The volatility hedge is 100% long (since 10/24/14). Below is a chart that shows changes to our portfolio allocations. Green lines represent adding exposure and reducing the hedge. Yellow lines represent reducing exposure and adding a hedge. Red lines represent an aggressive hedge using a security that benefits from increasing volatility. This week marks the first week since July that all four components of our market risk indicator are positive. Our market risk indicator is completely independent of our core measures of risk mentioned above so we now have two sets of indicators confirming that market participants are comfortable. It feels more like complacency (and top ticking) to me, but my

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Risk Off

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The last dip in the market caused some damage to the psyche of market participants. So much so that they are exhibiting signs of reducing risk in a variety of ways. Here are three examples. First is high quality bonds (LQD) against junk bonds (JNK). The damage done to junk bonds in July and October isn’t being repaired. People are shying away from junk. Which means they’re starting to get worried about cash flow and the ability to repay debt by middling companies. I’d like to see JNK start to mirror LQD again to give an all clear signal. Next is high beta stocks (SPHB) against low volatility stocks (SPLV). The October sell off did a lot of damage to high beta stocks that was largely recovered, but low volatility stocks held up and have sped to higher highs. This indicates some rotation to safety during the last rally. A move to higher highs by SPHB will be the first step in repairing this relationship. Another indication of reduction of

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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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