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Adding Exposure Due to Measures of Trend

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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

150114sh

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

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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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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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Moving to Cash or Full Hedge

141010markethealth

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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Raising Cash – Adding Hedge

140926hedgeallocation

Over the past week all of our market health indicators fell. Our measures of trend fell into negative territory which causes us to change our portfolio allocations. The Long / Cash portfolios will now be 60% long and 40% cash. The hedged portfolio will be 80% long stocks we believe will out perform the market in an uptrend (high beta stocks) and 20% short the S&P 500 Index (SH). Our market risk indicator hasn’t signaled so our volatility hedge is still 100% long. Below is a chart with the core portfolio allocation changes over the past year. The green lines represent adding exposure to the market and the yellow lines represent raising cash or adding a hedge. Here is a chart of the current readings (normalized) of our market health categories. The thing I’m watching most carefully at the moment is breadth. The NYSE cumulative Advance / Decline line (NYAD) is getting close to painting a lower low. This would be a warning sign of the most significant top we’ve

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