How to Trade This Headline Driven Stock Market
With all eyes on the unemployment report and Europe, the CME Group's PR Department nearly created an all out panic with their announcement after the market close on Friday relating to futures maintenance margin. The original statement was vague and I was quite concerned until I checked out the CME Group's web-page and the PR Department sent an update clarifying their position. At this point I think the crisis has been averted, but this is just another reminder that we live in "interesting times."
Keep in mind that if the CME starts raising margin rates across the board for futures contracts in order to protect themselves stocks and commodities could collapse. Silver recently has is margin rates increased and silver since then dropped 25% in value. So imagine if they raised the rates for more commodities...
The current price action in the marketplace pales in comparison to the world's geopolitical tensions and deteriorating social mood. In my trading career, I have never seen the price action in the indices react so violently to intraday headlines and rumors. Risk is high and the types of traders profiting from this market are day traders and very short term traders with trades lasting just a couple hours to 24 hours in length. Aggressive trading which small position sizes is all that can be done right now. This is not meant to be investment advice, but more as a function of the market environment in which we find ourselves currently trading within.
Right now it is hard to say where price action in the broader indices heads in the short-run. One headline out of Greece or Italy could dramatically alter economic history. In the intermediate term I remain neutral to bearish for a number of reasons. One indicator I follow is the bullish percent index on the S&P 500 which at this point is arguing for lower prices.
The chart below illustrates the S&P 500 Bullish Percent Index:
As can be seen above, the S&P 500 Bullish Percent Index is presently at an overbought status. When looking at the relative strength and full stochastics indicators one would argue that a pullback is warranted. Historically when the S&P 500 Bullish Percent Index is this overbought, a pullback ensues which ultimately sees the S&P 500 Index selloff. The more arduous task is trying to determine just how deep the pullback on the S&P 500 Index might be.
It is critical to point out that while I do believe a pullback is likely, I will not rule out a rally into the holiday season. Much of the near-term price action is going to be dictated by headlines coming out of Greece and the rest of Europe. In addition to Greece, Italy is also starting to see increased concern regarding an unsustainable fiscal condition. Depending on how the European Union handles the varying degrees of risk in the near term, we could see price action react violently in either direction.
With the market capable of moving in either direction, I wanted to point out some key price levels which should act as clues regarding potential future price action in the S&P 500. The two key support levels to monitor on the S&P 500 Index are the 1,240 and 1,220 price levels.
The daily chart of the S&P 500 Index below illustrates the price levels:
For bullish traders and investors the key price level to monitor is the recent highs on the S&P 500 around the 1,290 area. The weekly chart below demonstrates why this price level is critical and which overhead levels will offer additional resistance should the recent highs be taken out to the upside.
SP500 Weekly Chart Analysis:
While I am neutral in the intermediate to longer term presently, in the short run I have to lean slightly bearish simply because of the future headline risk and also because a major head and shoulders pattern has been carved out on the hourly chart of the S&P 500 Index. This type of chart pattern is synonymous with bearish price action.
The hourly chart of the S&P 500 Index is shown below:
Right now I remain slightly bearish, but should the head and shoulders pattern fail and/or we begin to see multiple positive reactions to news coming out of Europe a strong rally into the holiday season is likely. Unfortunately all we can do is monitor the key price levels and wait patiently for Mr. Market to tip his hand.
Until we see a breakout in either direction, we could see price action inhabit the 1,220 - 1,290 price range for several weeks before we get any more clarity of future direction. Until I see a breakout, I will remain relatively neutral with a slight short term bias to the downside based on price patterns in the shorter term time frames. This is a tough market to trade in, and I don't want to get chopped around or do any heavy lifting. I'm going to focus my attention on high probability, low risk trade setups until directional biased trades make more sense.
In closing, I will leave you with the thoughtful muse of the late Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, "For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future."