Hold The Champagne, Congress Is Just Getting Started
Stocks finished in the green for a third consecutive day on Monday as hope for a deal that would avert a debt default and reopen the government grew throughout the session.
Things started off a bit on the rocky side however as the DJIA was down more than 100 points two minutes after the opening bell. It turns out that the optimism which had pushed stocks up on Friday had quickly reversed after the politicians failed to make any substantive progress over the weekend.
And before investors could pour that first cup of coffee, there was a sea of red numbers scrolling wildly at the corner of Broad and Wall.
For those keeping score at home, the DJIA has advanced an eye-popping 825 points over the past week. The S&P 500 has moved up by 3.2 percent since last Wednesday's low and the NASDAQ closed out Monday's session just a whisker away from its highest close since the spring of 2000.
And speaking of new highs, both the Russell 2000 (small-caps) and the S&P 400 (mid-caps) indices finished Monday's session at fresh all-time highs. So, it will suffice to say that the fear of what might happen to the country should Congress do the unthinkable isn't sending investors underneath their desks at the present time.
Despite all the fear mongering and the doom-and-gloom being espoused by the popular press, word that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was "optimistic that a deal would be reached this week" managed to turn traders' frowns upside down around mid-morning on Monday.
Then the reports that the White House was scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders Monday afternoon gave the dip buyers a reason to get busy again and for shorts to continue to cover. In short, the market once again appeared to be running on "hopium."
The Latest Plan
Since the deadline clock continues to tick and time is running out, here's the latest on the debt/budget drama... On Sunday, Senate leaders (Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell) began working on plan in response to talks breaking down between White House and House Republicans. It was more of the same as Obama rejected the House proposal that would have raised the debt ceiling for 6 weeks in exchange for immediate negotiations on 2014 spending levels and a long-term deficit reduction deal.
The President's rejection was not terribly surprising since the House bill would not have reopened the government and also restricted the Treasury from using "extraordinary measures" to extend the debt ceiling deadline. However, on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Reid said that he was optimistic about a deal that he and Senate Minority Leader McConnell had been working on.
Perhaps the most encouraging development was the cancellation of a meeting between Obama, Biden, Boehner, Reid, McConnell, and Pelosi. At first, the algos knocked stocks back Monday as the headline that the meeting was being cancelled hit the wires. However, within minutes the indices recovered when it was announced that the reason for the cancellation was the Senators were making progress and needed more time.
Reading The Fine Print
At this stage, the market assumes that Senators Reid and McConnell will be able to broker a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government. In addition, since the plan is expected to be bipartisan in nature and originates in the Senate, it is further assumed that Speaker Boehner will bring such a measure to a vote in the House - and that it will pass.
However, before the champagne corks start to fly and the celebration begins, investors should read the fine print.
According to reports, the current plan being worked on by Reid and McConnell will be another "kick the can" type of solution and would only provide enough funding for the government to operate until January 15, 2014. The problem is January 15 is also the date when the second round of automatic "sequestration cuts" from the 2011 Budget Control Act kicks in. As such, the "solution" to the current problem actually sets up another round of "sequester" battles.
And given that this Congress can't seem to agree on anything - ever - it would appear that the current mess is likely to stick around for at least a couple more months. So, in short... here we go again.
Current Market Drivers
We strive to identify the driving forces behind the market action on a daily basis. The thinking is that if we can both identify and understand why stocks are doing what they are doing on a short-term basis; we are not likely to be surprised/blind-sided by a big move. Listed below are what we believe to be the driving forces of the current market (Listed in order of importance).
1. The Games Being Played in Washington (I.E. the Gov't Shutdown and Debt Ceiling)
2. The Outlook for the U.S. Economy
3. The State of Fed Policy
4. The State of the Earnings Season
The State of the Trend
We believe it is important to analyze the market using multiple time-frames. We define short-term as 3 days to 3 weeks, intermediate-term as 3 weeks to 3 months, and long-term as 3 months or more. Below are our current ratings of the three primary trends:
Short-Term Trend: Neutral
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 1 month)
Intermediate-Term Trend: Moderately Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 6 months)
Long-Term Trend: Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 12 months)
Key Technical Areas:
Traders as well as computerized algorithms are generally keenly aware of the important technical levels on the charts from a short-term basis. Below are the levels we deem important to watch today:
- Near-Term Support Zone(s) for S&P 500: 1700
- Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 1725
The State of the Tape
Momentum indicators are designed to tell us about the technical health of a trend - I.E. if there is any "oomph" behind the move. Below are a handful of our favorite indicators relating to the market's "mo"...
- Trend and Breadth Confirmation Indicator: Positive
- Price Thrust Indicator:Neutral
- Volume Thrust Indicator:Moderately Negative
- Breadth Thrust Indicator:Neutral
- Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive
- Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: Moderately Positive
The Early Warning Indicators
Markets travel in cycles. Thus we must constantly be on the lookout for changes in the direction of the trend. Looking at market sentiment and the overbought/sold conditions can provide "early warning signs" that a trend change may be near.
- Overbought/Oversold Condition: The S&P 500 is overbought from a short-term perspective and is neutral from an intermediate-term point of view.
- Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model is neutral .
The State of the Market Environment
One of the keys to long-term success in the stock market is stay in tune with the market's "big picture" environment in terms of risk versus reward because different market environments require different investing strategies. To help us identify the current environment, we look to our longer-term State of the Markets Model. This model is designed to tell us when risk factors are high, low, or uncertain. In short, this longer-term oriented, weekly model tells us whether the odds favor the bulls, bears, or neither team.
Weekly State of the Market Model Reading: positive
If you are looking for a disciplined, rules-based system to help guide your market exposure, check out The Daily Decision System.
Turning To This Morning...
Although earnings season is now rolling along, all eyes remain on the negotiations in Washington D.C. The bottom line is that traders expect a deal to get done today or tomorrow. However, if there is any further delay, the action could be swift and harsh. As such, this is no time to be asleep at the wheel.
Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell...
Major Foreign Markets:
- Japan: +0.26%
- Hong Kong: +0.51%
- Shanghai: -0.21%
- London: +0.88%
- Germany: +0.82%
- France: +0.64%
- Italy: -0.09%
- Spain: +0.50%
Crude Oil Futures: -$0.64 to $101.77
Gold: -$14.20 to $1261.90
Dollar: higher against the yen, euro and pound.
10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 2.718%
Stock Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value):
- S&P 500: -1.24
- Dow Jones Industrial Average: +1
- NASDAQ Composite: +3.11
Thought For The Day...
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. - Winston Churchill
Looking for Guidance in the Markets?
The Daily Decision: If you want a disciplined approach to managing stock market risk on a daily basis - Check the "Daily Decision" System. Forget the fast money and the latest, greatest option trade. Investors first need is a strategy to keep them "in" the stock market during bull markets and on the sidelines (or short) during bear markets. The Daily Decision system was up 30.3% in 2012, is up more than 25% in 2013, and the system sports an average compound rate of return of more than 30% per year.
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At StateoftheMarkets.com, our goal is to provide everything you need to be a more successful investor: The must-read headlines, market commentary, market research, stock analysis, proprietary risk management models, and most importantly – actionable portfolios with live trade alerts.
Finally, we are here to help - so don't hesitate to call with questions, comments, or ideas at 1-877-440-9464.
Wishing you green screens and all the best for a great day,
David D. Moenning
Founder and Chief Investment Strategist
For up to the minute updates on the market's driving forces, Follow Me on Twitter: @StateDave (Twitter is the new Ticker Tape)
Positions in stocks mentioned: none
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