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.
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
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
Our measures of trend have been bouncing back and forth across the zero line this week and are currently negative. If they are still negative on Friday we’ll be raising more cash and/or adding a larger hedge before the week ends. Here are some of the things I’m watching at the moment. The actively managed short ETF HDGE is currently rising even though a simple short of the S&P 500 Index (SH) is trending lower. This indicates that shorting selected stocks is starting to work. This often happens before the general market falls. In addition, mid term volatility (VXZ) is rising as well. This indicates that investors are getting nervous going into the end of the year. Small cap stocks (IWM) broke below the triangle I’ve been watching with an associated break in momentum from traders on Twitter. The negative gap in breadth between small and large cap stocks continues to grow. While everyone is watching small cap stocks I’m seeing deterioration in large caps under the cover of new
This past week our measures of the economy dipped into negative territory. As a result, we’ll be changing our core portfolio allocations (details below). All of the rest of our core market health indicators dropped as well. They had held up fairly well earlier in the week, but Thursday’s market action did some damage to them. As a side note, it is extremely unusual for one indicator to warn without others warning within a month so it is likely we’ll be raising more cash over the coming weeks. But as always, we’ll wait for a signal before making further moves. Our core measure of risk turned down after touching over bought readings the last few weeks. It is painting lower peaks which suggests investors are getting more concerned as the market moves higher. Our market risk indicator still has one component that is negative even though the market has moved to all time highs. All the other risk components peaked recently and have turned back down. Right now it is
Over the past week our core market health indicators diverged from each other. Our measures of the economy and trend rose while our measures of quality and strength fell. None of them moved much, but measures of trend moved back above the zero line. This changes our portfolio allocations as follows. The long/cash portfolios are now 60% long and 40% cash. The hedged portfolio is 80% long stocks we believe will outperform in an uptrend and 20% short the S&P 500 Index (long SH as an alternative to shorting SPY). Our core measures of risk moved further into overbought territory this week. As I noted over the weekend, when this occurs a dip of more than 10% often follows within a month or two. For now it’s not too concerning, but something to watch closely going forward. Below is a chart of our current market health category readings (normalized). Here’s a chart of our portfolio allocation changes over the past year. The green lines represent adding long exposure and removing hedges.
The Active Bear ETF (HDGE) is rising, a short of the S&P 500 Index is falling (SPX), and mid term volatility (VXZ) is falling. It tells a simple story. Shorts are working, but not affecting the market, nor causing any fear.
This past week our core market health indicators continued their recent trend. All of them except for our measures of the economy fell. Our measures of trend fell sharply and ended the week well below zero. As a result, we’re raising more cash and/or adding a larger hedge to our core portfolios. By the close today our Long/Cash portfolios allocations will be 20% long and 80% cash. Our hedged portfolio will be 60% long stocks that we believe will out perform the market in an uptrend and 40% short the S&P 500 Index (or use the ETF SH). Below is a chart of our portfolio changes over the past year. The yellow lines represent raising cash/adding hedges. The green lines represent removing hedges and adding more longs to the portfolios. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, historically our indicators deteriorating to these levels have resulted in an extended choppy market or an extended decline 65% of the time. 35% of the time these conditions marked a short term low
Over the past week our market health indicators dropped significantly. Most importantly our measures of market quality fell below zero. As a result, the Long/Cash portfolios will be raising cash by the end of the day. They will both be 40% long and 60% cash by the end of the day (3/14/14). Our hedged portfolio will be 70% long stocks we believe will out perform the market in an uptrend and 30% short the S&P 500 Index (or simply buy the ETF SH). There is small chance that we’ll raise even more cash or add a larger hedge if the market accelerates lower in the last hour of trading. Our measures of market trend are still positive, but could go negative before the end of the day. If that happens I’ll update the site and do a new post with the details. Below is a chart of our allocation changes over the past year. The green lines represent adding long exposure to the portfolios. The yellow lines represent raising cash
Over the past week all of our core market health indicators fell sharply. Most notably is that perceptions of risk are rising sharply. Two of the components of our Market Risk Indicator are currently warning. The sharp drop in this indicator shows that investors are dancing close to the door. Our measures of market quality and strength fell quickly as well. Our measures of the economy have fallen back below zero which has us raising cash in the long / cash portfolios. They are now 80% long and 20% cash. We’re adding a 10% hedge to the hedged portfolio. It is currently 90% long with stocks that we believe will outperform the market in an uptrend and 10% short the S&P 500 index (or an ETF like SH). If the current trajectory of our measures of market quality and strength continues we’ll probably be raising more cash next week. But as always we’ll wait for a signal. I’ll post mid week if anything significant happens to any of the indicators.