Financial Markets Forecast and Analysis
Summary of Index Daily Closings for Week Ending December 10, 2004
|Date||DJIA||Transports||S&P||NASDAQ||Jun 30 Yr Treas
|SHORT TERM FORECAST
(Next Two Weeks)
|Market Rise||Medium||Very High||80%|
|Very Low Under||20%|
|INTERMEDIATE TERM FORECAST
(Next 12 Weeks)
|TREND||PROBABILITY||Substantial||800 points+ (DJIA)|
|Substantial Rise||Low||Market Move||200 to 800 points (DJIA)|
|Market Rise||Medium||Sideways||Up or Down 200 (DJIA)|
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell hard Monday and Tuesday of this week, for the second week in a row, this time down 151 points, until once again a Wednesday rally mitigated the overall damage, limiting the week's losses to 48.99 points, in line with the direction of last week's Short-term TII reading of negative (56.25). Markets are being held up with aggressive buying of a limited number of shares, giving a false sense of security to equity investors. Broad-based selling should be right around the corner - however, with the caveat that next week is an options expiration week which usually produces a strong rally along the way, and the following week is a holiday week which usually produces a Santa Claus rally. So the question is, how long can the coming correction's fullness be deferred? Answer: we don't know. The risks are there and that is all we can do at this time - identify and measure risks.
New 52 week lows are on the rise. Should they soon rise to over 90 on the same day new highs come in at 90, that would be an indication that this market is close to falling out of bed. Stay tuned.
Coming Soon, in 2005, "Trader's Corner," a special feature for traders.
|Equities Markets Technical Indicator Index (TII) ™|
|Week Ended||Short Term Index||Intermediate Term Index|
|Aug 20, 2004||9.25||(43.82)||Scale|
|Aug 27, 2004||9.25||(39.81)|
|Sep 3, 2004||(39.25)||(40.06)||(100) to +100|
|Sep 10, 2004||(49.25)||(45.78)|
|Sep 17, 2004||(69.00)||(44.73)||(Negative) Bearish|
|Sep 24, 2004||(52.25)||(42.02)||Positive Bullish|
|Oct 1, 2004||25.50||(37.23)|
|Oct 8, 2004||(58.50)||(35.56)|
|Oct 15, 2004||(24.50)||(35.48)|
|Oct 22, 2004||(15.00)||(36.93)|
|Oct 29, 2004||39.50||(40.06)|
|Nov 5, 2004||5.50||(35.28)|
|Nov 12, 2004||(6.50)||(27.63)|
|Nov 19, 2004||(50.00)||(23.18)|
|Nov 26, 2004||(54.25)||(26.88)|
|Dec 3, 2004||(56.25)||(30.50)|
|Dec 10, 2004||(88.25)||(42.42)|
This week the Short-term Technical Indicator Index comes in at negative (88.25), indicating the risk of a meaningful market decline is probable. This indicator is a useful predictor of equity market moves over the next two weeks, both as to direction and to a lesser extent strength of move. For example, readings near zero indicate narrow sideways moves are probable. Readings closer to +/-100 indicate with a higher degree of confidence that an impulsive move up or down is likely over the short run. Market conditions can change on a dime, or the Plunge Protection Team can come in and temporarily stop market slides, so it may be unwise to trade off this weekly measured indicator.
The Intermediate-term Technical Indicator Index is useful for monitoring what's over the horizon - over the next twelve weeks. It serves as an early warning system for unforeseen trend changes of considerable magnitude. This week the Intermediate-term TII comes in at negative (42.42).
Investors tend to behave in predictable psychological patterns given similar economic environments - either primary Bull or Bear markets. The secondary reactions (countertrend) moves often occur similarly in relative price and time as has occurred in the past. In effect, past price patterns can sometimes act as a blueprint for the future. The key is to hunt them down and track them. Eventually analogs break apart, but until they do, like waves when surfing, they can give you a nice ride.
Given that, we present three analogs that appear to be working quite nicely through Friday, December 10th, 2004. They are 1) a comparison of the rise and fall of Japan's Tokyo Nikkei from 1985 to 1998 with the Dow Industrials from 1996 to the present, 2) a comparison of the average of the last two secular (major) Bear markets in the U.S., 1929-1936 and 1968-1975, with the Dow Industrials from 2000 through 2004, and 3) a new one this week, a comparison of the rise and fall of the S&P 500 from 1998 to 2002 with the S&P 500's price pattern from 2002 to the present. In all three cases, prices are tracking the past with very good correlation - and more significantly all three analogs warn us that investor psychology should turn quite Bearish soon, with equities selling-off for at least over a year.
Our two sentiment charts continue to warn of a significant correction. The first one on the next page, the SPX/VIX Ratio, set an all-time record high Friday December 10th, 2004 of 93.81 - Bearish. Major tops take a while to form, and by the looks of this chart (which covers this ratio going back to 1998), the pattern looks very similar to that which formed at the 2000 all-time S&P 500 price peak. Since 1998, whenever this ratio has climbed to 68.00, a stock market crash followed starting almost immediately. The lone exception was in 1999 when a year-long warning of readings above 68.00 foretold the massive top to come in 2000. We have a similar situation again. Since late 2003 we have seen a yearlong series of readings above 68.00 without a crash. Our take on this is that - like 1999 - we are being forewarned of another major top, one that will be followed by a decline of perhaps as much as 30 to 50 percent. How can this be you ask? We believe this ratio's pattern is telling us that the start of the ominous Elliott Wave primary degree (3) down is about to begin (within the next two months). The SPX/VIX ratio is at a similar level as the peak reading in 2000 that kicked off an immediate decline that eventually took the S&P 500 down 50 percent over two years.
The second sentiment chart - a contrary indicator - is the 10 Day Average CBOE Call/Put Ratio. Consistent with the SPX/VIX's warning, the Call/Put Ratio has triggered a sell signal by dropping below its 1.40 topping threshold to 1.30 on December 10th, 2004. Tops are indicated by readings above 1.40 and bottoms are indicated by readings below 1.00. Sell signals occur once the ratio declines back below 1.40, and buy signals occur once the ratio rises back above 1.00.
The chart below compares the Dow Industrials with the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index since 1998. Correlation between the two has been terrific. On occasion, the U. of Michigan Index gets out in front of the DJIA, generating a forecast opportunity. This happened back in 2000 when the U. of Michigan Index plummeted about three months before the DJIA followed. Since then, the moves have been contemporaneous.
However, what is interesting is that when the U. of Michigan Sentiment Index formed a Head & Shoulders Top pattern from 1998 through 2000, it was as if the Dow Industrials had formed this Bearish pattern as well because the DJIA plummeted shortly thereafter. We may have a similar situation developing again now. The U. of Michigan Sentiment Index has formed a Head & Shoulders top pattern that started in 2003 and is finishing up now. All that is left for the pattern to confirm is for the Index to decline below the neckline - below 88. Should that occur, a multi-year 20 percent +/- decline in the DJIA is probable.
One point to take from this analysis is that major tops take time. They don't just knee-jerk reverse course. Bulls give up hope reluctantly as it is normal for human nature - especially here in the U.S. - to be optimistic. The smart money knows when the rally has exhausted and they distribute in stealth fashion, not wanting others to know the party is over so they can unwind massive holdings at top dollar. The Head & Shoulders pattern x-rays this. We see similar top patterns in the SPX/VIX analysis as well - multi-year tops. The bad news is, once these occur, ensuing declines are destructive.
The above chart (courtesy of www.stockcharts.com) shows that the Dow Industrials completed their impulse rally from October 25th with a small degree fifth wave top at 10,643 intraday on Friday December 3rd, which we have labeled minuette degree wave i. Since then, the DJIA has declined in an impulse wave which we have labeled micro degree wave "a" down of an a-down, b-up, c-down corrective minuette degree wave ii up. It appears that micro waves "a" and "b" are complete and micro "c" down is next, taking the DJIA to the 10,300 area. That would mean minuette degree waves iii-up, iv-down, and v-up would finish off primary degree wave (2) in early 2005. To follow would be the calamitous Elliott Wave primary degree (3) down, taking the DJIA below its October 2002 lows.
Another possibility is that December 3rd represents the final top for primary degree wave (2) which started in October 2002. In that case, the rally since October 25th was a final truncated minor degree fifth wave of intermediate degree C of primary (2). The degree of waves noted above from October 25th's bottom would be one degree higher, would be minuette degree, not micro. If that is the case, then the impulse wave down from December 3rd would be a micro degree wave 1 down and the alternate count noted above would apply. What is clear is that we have reached some sort of top and that prices should decline further - perhaps at least to 10,286, the 38.2 retrace of the rally since October 25th. Should the DJIA drop below October 25th's 9,708, then primary degree wave (3) down is underway. Our top count is assuming the major top will occur in early 2005 - primarily based upon positive seasonal cycles in play. Arguing for the alternate count we note above are the excessive Bullish sentiment indicators, massive insider selling, and several large Bearish topping patterns, including a small Head & Shoulders that may be forming right now in the DJIA.
The S&P 500 has been labeled with the alternate count for the Dow Industrials. There are several reasons why we lean this way for the S&P 500 - which is another argument why the DJIA's alternate count should be its top count. First, the S&P's rally began back in August 2004, not October 2004's like the DJIA's did, so it is more proportional to the other minor degree waves. Plus, this minor degree fifth that began in August has traced out a Rising Bearish Wedge "Ending Diagonal" pattern - a typical finishing pattern for an Elliott Wave terminal. Thirdly, the S&P 500 has formed a significant Broadening Top "Megaphone" pattern, a pattern usually seen at major tops. Fourth, prices have converged with the intersection of the two Bearish topping patterns, forming what should be strong resistance. To count the move up from August 2004 as a minor degree fifth wave is not a truncated fifth, but rather a completed fifth. Should it turn out that the DJIA's primary degree (2) also has completed here, that means we have a major index divergence where the S&P 500 achieved new highs at this top whereas the DJIA would have failed to do so. Such divergences often occur at major tops.
In the case of the Megaphone pattern, what is happening is that investors are becoming less and less certain what the correct valuation should be, shown by an increase in price volatility. The pattern shown above meets the requisite of at least two to three price swings that result in two to three lower lows and higher highs. This pattern was found in an MIT study by Dr. Andrew Lo of the Sloan School of Management to have a reliable outcome - in this case we expect a major reversal to the downside in a month or so, if not sooner. Timing is uncertain due to seasonal trends - specifically the typical Santa Claus rally - which may or may not come this year. Bah Humbug.
Transports struggled to rocket higher this week, declining 40.71 points. Airlines were downgraded, contributing to the sell-off. Whether this proves to be the trigger for the crash we expect in this index remains to be seen. Why are we expecting a crash? Glad you asked.
The Dow Transportation Average has risen 25 percent since August 2004 without a correction - which meets the criteria for a Parabolic Spike. The PE for this index is over 90x. What we have here is a manic bubble. Parabolic Spikes do not have soft landings. Once the air comes out of this balloon, this index is going to crash and burn. It's been a nice ride for the trend-seeking hedge funds, but both the Elliott Wave count and the Rising Bearish Wedge pattern also indicate the party is about over. New highs are unconfirmed by the Dow Industrials - a big problem under Dow Theory.
We are not quite ready to declare the Parabolic Spike blow-off rally over, as Wednesday's thrust higher forces us to be patient. As long as prices remain inside the rising trend-channel, the spike could gain altitude - but the air is getting thin. The RSI has turned down from overbought territory, a sign that the rising trend is losing participation. The MACD has formed a small Head & Shoulders top, and has turned down, so it is very likely that momentum is about to fall. Because of the mania characteristic of Parabolic Spikes, once momentum gets legs, there should be accelerated selling as speculators dump and run, knowing full well the greater fool game is over. Left holding the bag will be the innocent.
Wholesale Prices rose 0.5 percent in November, after catapulting a whopping 1.7 percent in October, according to the Labor Department. This two-month rate annualizes to double-digit inflation. Energy was a big chunk of the increase. What will be interesting is whether corporations can pass these higher costs onto consumers. If not, then earnings could be squeezed. Third Quarter Productivity growth came in at 1.8 percent. Productivity can be interpreted as analogous to worker displacement - whether displaced by computers, declining output, or job exportation. Good for corporate efficiency ratios, bad for consumer spending - and ergo, ultimately bad for corporate profits. Of course this analysis ditty won't appear anywhere in the mainstream financial press. Hear no evil, see no evil.
Jobs. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that businesses announced 104,530 job eliminations in November, resulting in the worst three-month figures since early 2002. Planned cuts are up 5.1 percent year over year, according to coverage at www.cnnmoney.com. This is up from trend, as the prior 12 month average was 85,000. Among the companies that will be contributing to December's tally is Colgate-Palmolive Co., which plans to cut 12 percent of their workforce, this on the heels of their September earnings warning. Delphi, the giant auto parts maker, announced 8,500 cuts are coming - 3,000 in the U.S. - in response to an earnings (loss) warning for the fourth quarter. Poor corporate earnings are starting to translate into rising unemployment. New Unemployment Claims rose last week to 357,000 according to the Labor Department. The total number of good folks receiving unemployment benefits increased 91,000 last week to 2.8 million. Our nation continues to displace family- supporting-wage-level positions with retail clerical spots such as Wal-Mart greeters. There is a problem here that will eventually translate into declining consumer spending (two-thirds of GDP) and ultimately recession - maybe sooner than anyone wants to admit, given consumer debt loads and rising short-term interest rates on a big batch of that debt. When's the last time you heard of a major sport's players union offering a 24 percent salary cut for themselves just for the right to go back to work? Hockey did that this week. We may be watching a paradigm shift from inflation to deflation.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index couldn't bounce very much from the record plummet it took the prior week, increasing only a hair from -9 to -8 this week on its scale of -100 to +100. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index rose from 92.8 in November to 95.7 in December as reported by Reuters on www.cnnmoney.com. As we pointed out in the chart presented earlier, this index looks to be forming a Head & Shoulders top pattern that could be a warning of a sharp upcoming decline in both the confidence index and equities.
Money Supply, the Dollar, & Gold:
M-3 is up 15.8 billion for the latest reporting week, however is actually down 14.7 billion over the past two months. This supports our view that equities are at great intermediate-term risk of declining as our research shows that whenever M-3 plateaus or declines for two months or more, equities subsequently decline.
The trade-weighted U.S. Dollar started its minor degree wave 4 up correction that we've been expecting. Proportionality suggests this wave 4 should take perhaps three weeks to a month before the final minor degree wave 5 takes the U.S. Dollar to final lows for a while. That low would also be intermediate degree wave 5 down of primary degree wave (1) down - the culmination of a multi-year long-term decline. A major reversal should then unfold - an A-B-C corrective primary degree wave (2) up that could take the better part of 2005 to complete. That rally should retrace a Fibonacci percentage of the wave (1) decline. Following that would come a calamitous decline - primary degree wave (3) that should take the U.S. Dollar to new all-time lows and push Gold to all-time highs.
The RSI has rebounded from deep oversold levels and the MACD has turned up. We'll be watching for completion of a minuette degree a-b-c correction to indicate that minor degree wave 4 is over and minor 5 is about to begin. The minor degree wave 4 retrace could take the Dollar up to as high as the 87 area should it want to retrace 61.8 percent of minor degree 3 down. Wave 4's usually don't retrace as much as wave 2's so it is possible that this rally will stop at the 38.2 or 50 percent retrace of minor degree 3 - around 84.50 to 85.75.
The chart on the next page (courtesy of www.stockcharts.com) shows an Elliott Wave count for Gold over the past three years. The sharp decline this week comes off the Rising Bearish Wedge pattern we've been showing for the past several weeks now, so is not unexpected. What is interesting is the speed at which prices are headed for oversold territory. Proportionality argues that once Gold is oversold, a minor degree wave 4 will be finished and one final push up to a final top in Gold for a while will be in place - minor degree 5 of intermediate degree wave 5 of primary degree wave (1).
An Ascending Triangle is still in play, and is one of the reasons we feel it is a bit early for a final primary degree wave (1) top at this time. The Ascending Triangle projects an upside target of 500 before any significant correction. That target is arrived at by taking the distance of the widest part of the triangle and adding it to the spot of the breakout. Maybe we get to 500 or maybe we don't before primary degree wave (2) starts, however prices still remain solidly inside their long-term rising trendchannel and one more meaningful thrust higher over the next month or two would not surprise us. A decline below 375 would negate the Ascending Triangle pattern and indicate that primary degree wave (2) is underway. This correction could take the form of a zigzag and push prices sharply lower, or it could take the form of a "flat" sideways consolidation - perhaps even a symmetrical triangle - meaning the correction could be milder and not push Gold down more than 38.2 percent of the primary degree wave (1) rise, to about the 375 area.
The Gold Bugs Index ($HUI) charted on the next page has followed the path we expected from its mid-November top as outlined back in issue no. 97, November 5th, 2004, declining 34.58 points (13.9 percent) from its 248.18 high on November 17th to Friday's close. The HUI is in the last leg of an Elliott Wave minor degree consolidation - wave C that should take prices down below 180 over the next several months before turning back up in earnest. So far the HUI is finishing up a minuette degree wave i of v down. The RSI has predictably plummeted from a rare Head & Shoulders top formation to oversold levels, the place where minuette degree wave ii up can grab the baton for the next short-term path. The MACD also fell sharply from a Head & Shoulders top formation and momentum is now clearly down.
Silver crashed 18.4 percent over the past two weeks after completing its second parabolic spike pattern of the year. In each instance, prices crashed after reaching its vertical apex. Interestingly, the first decline was stopped by a textbook Rounded Bullish Bottom pattern that evolved malignantly into the second parabolic spike. We warned about this possibility back in issue no. 94 on October 27th, 2004 (available in the archives at www.technicalindicatorindex.com). We stated, "What has to be watched here is the development of a parabolic spike, a near vertical ascension of prices. Once that occurs, we can expect a sharp vertical decline."
There is still a very good possibility that the Rounded Bullish Bottom pattern will reform itself once this crash is complete just as it did back in the spring and summer of 2004. What is happening here is Silver is being accumulated, but that its price got ahead of itself. We may continue to see a number of these ongoing parabolic spikes and crash-corrections as the Bull marches on - especially as the general public joins in the buying. Rounded Bullish Bottom patterns portend a significant - longterm - rising trend. As long as prices do not break decisively below the rising trend-channel, this pattern remains intact. The RSI is now oversold. Momentum is clearly down.
The chart below of the Commodity Reasearch Bureau Index shows a completed Elliott Wave count for corrective up-leg primary degree (2) - a clear five-wave impulse that wrapped up intermediate degree wave C of an A-up, B-down, C-up correction of the decline from the CRB index's all-time high of 337.60 in 1980. What this means is Deflation - and probably severe recession - is on its way. If so, watch the massive printing press action the Fed takes during this nasty event.
U.S. Treasury Bonds did a U-turn this week, rallying back hard after breaking below the neckline of a small Head & Shoulders pattern last week. The expectation was for Bonds to continue south on an impulse wave that would eventually take interest rates up to double digits and Bonds toward 80. That may still happen, but the near-term picture must clear first. The small Head & Shoulders pattern remains valid - so we wait. The RSI has formed a Bearish Rounded Top pattern implying falling prices in the near term. The MACD has also formed a Bearish Rounded Top pattern but may have thrown a Bear Hook in for good measure to lure in the longs before declining further. A massive three year Head & Shoulders Top remains in force - unconfirmed - looking to draw prices to the neckline around 101, and then to its minimum downside target of 81.
How we get there could prove quite interesting. Here's a theory just for kicks. Based upon what we are seeing in the patterns for the Dollar, Gold, the HUI, Silver, Oil and the CRB, it does appear that Deflation is about to spring upon us once again. This time may fool the Fed as the price indexes are declaring inflation, Oil has been through the roof, and equities have been enjoying a nice run. The Fed speaks of a recovery and may just believe its own jargon. Thus it continues to push short rates higher. But a lot of deflationary - recessionary - damage is occurring underneath the surface. Job losses, disposable earnings constraints, over-indebted consumers, disappointing corporate earnings, etc... Commodities and metals see this. What if Deflation hits hard and fast, and an unexpected recession does likewise. At first, Bonds rally as equities sink along with everything else. But then the Fed pumps liquidity like there is no tomorrow. The Dollar sinks, Bonds sink, Gold catapults higher.
Bottom Line: Most major equity indices are forming one or more Bearish topping patterns. The Boradening Top "Megaphone" is popular right now and happens to be one of the more statistically reliable patterns. Also evident are many Rising Bearish Wedges. The Head & Shoulders top pattern is appearing in several stocks and equity indices, and also appearing in RSI and MACD indicators. It has also shown up in the University of Michigan Sentiment Index. These and other indicators are lining up for a major decline. Whether the precipitous decline begins tomorrow or two months from now, it is coming. The Santa Claus seasonal rally may delay the fall, but it may not. Maybe the jolly old guy just came early as the post-election rally. Caution remains warranted.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel,
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."
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|Key Economic Statistics|
|Date||VIX||Dec. U.S. $||Euro||CRB||Gold||Silver||Crude Oil||1 Week Avg. M-3|
Note: VIX complacent, Dollar up, everything else dives.