What Do The Cycles Say For November?
After two consecutive days of declines, the question of the day is if the current rally, which began in early October, is just resting or about to morph into the type of month-long corrective phases that have been prevalent since June?
Since the middle of April, the trend of the stock market has been fairly easy to identify. Stocks have tended to rally for a month or so and then correct for a month. In short, it's been a stair-step affair with the end result being positive. However, both teams have had decent opportunities for the past six months.
Both Teams Have a Case
Currently, there are good arguments from both sides of the field. The bears contend that "the taper" being back on the table as a possibility in December means that the current joyride to the upside is over. Those dressed in their furry costumes also say that earnings have not been all that great and that higher rates will start to bite at some point soon.
However, the bull camp suggests that March/April 2014 remains the most realistic time frame for the Fed to begin tapering their bond-buying stimulus program and as such, the switch for liquidity trade is back in the "on" position. In addition, those wearing the rose-colored Ray Bans argue that the fundamental backdrop for stocks remains positive and that any dips should be bought for the foreseeable future.
Time To Review The Cycle Projections
Although the economic news of the day is likely to dominate trading in the coming week (remember - the October Jobs report is due out next week), investors should note that the month of November has a pretty good reputation for generating gains. So, with the market looking uncertain, it is time to review what the historical cycles have to say about the month October.
Since this is the eleventh review of the cycles and cycle composite this year, there is probably little need to go over all the disclosures/disclaimers again. However, it is important to recognize that the analysis of cycles (or any other indicator) should not be used in a vacuum or as a stand-alone indicator. However, the data continues to be an important input into our daily and weekly Market Environment models.
For anyone new to this analysis, the cycle composite is a combination of the one-year seasonal, the four-year Presidential, and the 10-year decennial cycles - all going back to 1928.
November Has a Decent Reputation
History shows that the month of November begins a very strong seasonal period for the stock market. If one wanted to stick with the historical tendencies, they would buy the low seen in November and then "sell in May and go away." In addition, November contains strong seasonality around the Thanksgiving holiday and has traditionally ushered in the year-end rally.
Is The Market In Sync With the Cycle Projections?
The first step in the analysis of the cycles is to get a feel for whether or not the cycle projections are "on" or not at the present time. Looking at how the market acted relative to the cycle composite in October, it should be noted that the stock market went almost directly opposite the cycle composite's projection during the month.
From an intermediate-term point of view, the market (as defined by the S&P 500) appears to be trending higher while the cycle composite projection has been calling for a steady downtrend since August. However, from a longer-term point of view, stocks are largely in line with the forecast from the cycles.
What Does November Look Like?
The next step is to take a look at what the cycle projections are calling for during the coming month:
One-Year Cycle: The picture painted by the one-year seasonal cycle is pretty positive. November has had a tendency to start off strong as rallies during the first two-thirds of the month have been the norm. However, a relatively brief (a week or so) pullback tends to occur sometime after the middle of the month before the traditional year-end rally begins around Thanksgiving. The bottom line: November starts and finishes strong.
Four-Year Cycle: The four-year Presidential cycle projection is not nearly as encouraging. Historically, the month has been a see-saw affair with only a slightly upward bias. But the bottom line here is the month does end higher than it began.
10-Year Cycle: The bad news is the 10-year cycle looks very different from the upbeat one-year cycle and the modestly positive four-year cycle. The 10-year suggests the month will be a steady correction and end on a negative note (with a modest loss for the S&P 500 on the month).
The Cycle Composite: The overall cycle composite is obviously a combination of the individual cycles. So, with the one-year calling for a positive month, the four-year looking for a modest advance, and the ten-year projecting a decline, it isn't surprising that the composite suggests a flat-to-modestly down month.
What To Look For
So there you have it. The various cycles suggest that stocks could go higher, lower, or sideways. Not helpful, right?
With the cycle outlook not exactly clear, it is probably a good idea to utilize a flexible approach during November and to stay on your toes. After all, the S&P is up more than 23 percent year-to-date and there is a fair amount of uncertainty on the horizon. Thus, the best play is to put away the crystal ball and attempt to stay in tune with what the market IS doing. But then again, we say that EVERY month!
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 State of Fed Policy
2. The Outlook for Economic Growth
3. 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: Mooderately Positive
(Chart below is S&P 500 daily over past 1 month)
Intermediate-Term Trend: 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: 1745
- Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 1760-70
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: Neutral
- Price Thrust Indicator:Positive
- Volume Thrust Indicator:Negative
- Breadth Thrust Indicator:Neutral
- Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive
- Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: 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 modestly overbought from a short-term perspective and is very overbought from an intermediate-term point of view.
- Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model is Negative .
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.
Thought For The Day...
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Founder and Chief Investment Strategist
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Positions in stocks mentioned: none
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