Has Stock Market Rally Run its Course?

By: Prieur du Plessis | Tue, Apr 21, 2009
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I highlighted the short-term overbought nature of the stock market in my "Words from the Wise" review two days ago, saying:

"From a technical perspective, a primary bear market still exists as long as the major indices remain below the January highs and the 200-day moving averages. Many of the rally's leaders (indices and sectors) seem to be running into major resistance at these levels and look susceptible to retrace at least a portion of the gains since the March low. Further evidence of a short-term top in the making comes from a chart showing the percentage of S&P 500 stocks [90%] trading above their 50-day moving averages."

Not surprisingly, investors' lingering worries about the financial sector resurfaced yesterday, pulling the S&P 500 Index down by 4.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 3.6% - the worst losses since early March and in all likelihood a Lowry's 90% down-day.

While the short-term movements play themselves out, it is important to remember that the longer-term charts have not yet signalled a secular uptrend. Using monthly data, the graph below shows the multi-year trend of the S&P 500 Index (green line) together with a simple 12-month rate of change (or momentum) indicator (red line). Although monthly indicators are of little help when it comes to market timing, they do come in handy for defining the primary trend. An ROC line below zero depicts bear trends as experienced in 1990, 1994, 2000 to 2003, and again since December 2007. Having said that, the level of the indicator is grossly oversold, as confirmed by the RSI indicator (blue line).

The stock market will tell its own story over the next few days, but it is crucial that the lows of March 9 hold in order for base formation development to remain intact. Should these levels - 677 for the S&P 500 and 6,547 for the Dow Jones - be breached, it's "Katie, bar the door" (quoting from Richard Russell).

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Prieur du Plessis

Author: Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

Dr Prieur du Plessis

With 25 years' experience in investment research and portfolio management, Dr Prieur du Plessis is one of the most experienced and well-known investment professionals in South Africa. More than 1 000 of his articles on investment-related topics have been published in various regular newspaper, journal and Internet columns. He also published a book, Financial Basics: Investment, in 2002.

He holds the following degrees: BSc (Quantity Surveying) (Cape Town), HonsB (B & A) (cum laude) (Stellenbosch), MBA (cum laude) (Stellenbosch); and DBA (Doctor of Financial Management) (Stellenbosch).

Prieur is chairman of the Plexus group of companies, which he founded in 1995. Previously he was general manager: portfolio management at Sanlam, responsible for the management of investment portfolios with total assets in excess of $5 billion.

Plexus is a pioneer in the mutual fund industry and has achieved a number of firsts under Prieur's leadership. These include the authoritative Plexus Survey, a quarterly analysis of the consistency of the performance of unit trust management companies, the Plexus Offshore Survey, the Plexus Unit Trust Indices, and the PlexCrown Fund Ratings.

Plexus is the South African partner of John Mauldin, American author of the most widely distributed investment newsletter in the world, and also has an exclusive licensing agreement with California-based Research Affiliates for managing and distributing its enhanced Fundamental Index™ methodology in the Pan-African area.

In 2001 Prieur received the Santam/AHI Business Leader of the Year award for corporate leadership, business acumen and entrepreneurial flair. He was also profiled in the book South Africa's Leading Managers (2006). Plexus received the AHI/Old Mutual Enterprise of the Year award in 1997 and was also included in the book South Africa's Most Promising Companies (2005).

Prieur is 52 years old and lives with his wife, TV producer and presenter Isabel Verwey, and two children in Welgemoed, Cape Town. His recreational activities include long-distance running, motor cycling and reading. He belongs to the Cape Town Club, Johannesburg Country Club, Gordon's Bay Yacht Club and Swiss Social & Sports Club.

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