Tales from A New Leading Indicator

Major U.S. equity indexes are back to clear technical resistance. As a result, tail risk is near all-time highs. People are frantically pointing out to a record levels of put buying in the midst of a rise in the S & P 500. If everyone expects the possibility of a near-term correction and all are hedging against it, what are the odds that it will happen? Usually, very slim. The market rarely does what the majority of people expect.

In the mean-time, semiconductors ($SMH) continue to outperform and are back against their declining 200-day moving average. Some say that they are the new Dr. Copper – the real leading indicator in markets. Remember how semis were among the first leading sectors to break down in late June? After that, they kept declining below their 50dma and foreshadowed weakness in the general market several weeks in advance. Now, all of a sudden semis are starting to outperform. Maybe, this time they are foreshadowing a market recovery? They need to clear their 200dma first, of course.

The chart below shows the ratio of Semis to S & P 500 – a great way to spot relative strength or weakness.




For more analysis and stock picks, check my premium subscription.

Here’s What’s Different About This Pullback


U.S. equities had a 5-day rally and as expected by many are encountering some selling pressure today.  Counter-trend rallies below 50 and 200dmas are typically guilty until proven innocent, but here are a few things that are different about this pullback compared to two weeks ago when Russell 2000 tested its Aug 24th lows:

  1. Japanese Yen is not rallying this time. The Yen rallying is a typical risk-off move that usually leads to a selloff in equities around the globe.
  2. The U.S. Dollar is fading, which is giving a boost to lagging sectors as energy, some basic materials and emerging markets.
  3. Earnings season is knocking on the door and market expectations are relatively low, which is usually a good foundation for upside surprises.
  4. Seasonality on the side of bulls this time.
  5. Many investors did not participate in the last 5-day rally and are waiting for a pullback to enter. It seems everyone was on the bandwagon two weeks ago and got burned as SPY, QQQ and IWM were slammed near their declining 50dmas. “A cat who sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. But he won’t sit on a cold stove either”. May investors are the same way and highly impacted by recency bias. It takes time to go from a state of “fear of losing” to “fear of missing out”.
  6. The biotech sector is leading the selloff again, but this time correlations among biotech stocks are much smaller than 2 weeks ago. For example, look at $JUNO up 9%  today.

What has remained the same today compared to two weeks ago is that there is still not a very high number of decent long setups among high-growth leaders. Mostly laggards are leading this counter-trend rally. Some say that this is normal for early stages of market recoveries, but the truth is that growth leaders lead in healthy markets and without them any rally isn’t likely to sustain for too long.