Investor Sentiment: Is This the End of the Road for the Rally?
The "dumb money" indicator has become extremely bullish (bear signal), and this is what one would expect with rising prices. The higher prices go the more bulls that are recruited. But is it the end of the road for the rally? Not necessarily so. In 1995, 2003, 2009, and Q4 2010/Q1 2011 we saw the phenomenon that I have dubbed "it takes bulls to make a bull market". It is a market characterized by rising prices and excessive bullishness. In the case of 1995, 2003, 2009, the excessive bullishness and multi-month rally seem to be warranted as the markets were bouncing back from steep losses or a prolong period of consolidation (1995). The Q4 2010/ Q1 2011 version of this phenomenon was a QE2 induced feeding frenzy. With investors taking their cues from the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, the current market environment resembles Q4 2010/ Q1 2011. For now, we need to respect this dynamic as we could be witnessing another melt up. The bulls have the ball in their court and are on the cusp of turning this recent price move into a multi-month barn burner.
The "Dumb Money" indicator (see figure 1) looks for extremes in the data from 4 different groups of investors who historically have been wrong on the market: 1) Investors Intelligence; 2) MarketVane; 3) American Association of Individual Investors; and 4) the put call ratio. This indicator shows extreme bullishness.
Figure 1. "Dumb Money"/ weekly
Figure 2 is a weekly chart of the SP500 with the InsiderScore "entire market" value in the lower panel. From the InsiderScore weekly report: "Insider trading volume was seasonally thin last week, the result of most insiders being locked-up and prohibited from trading until after their companies' Q4'11 earnings announcements, as well as the market holiday."
Figure 2. InsiderScore "Entire Market" value/ weekly
Figure 3 is a weekly chart of the SP500. The indicator in the lower panel measures all the assets in the Rydex bullish oriented equity funds divided by the sum of assets in the bullish oriented equity funds plus the assets in the bearish oriented equity funds. When the indicator is green, the value is low and there is fear in the market; this is where market bottoms are forged. When the indicator is red, there is complacency in the market. There are too many bulls and this is when market advances stall. Currently, the value of the indicator is 65.09%. Values less than 50% are associated with market bottoms. Values greater than 58% are associated with market tops.
Figure 3. Rydex Total Bull v. Total Bear/ weekly
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