Market Overview

The Reason for Wednesday's Hard Fall in Stocks: 'Dangerous, But Necessary'

The Reason for Wednesday's Hard Fall in Stocks: 'Dangerous, But Necessary'

As we've discussed a time (or twenty), the primary objective of this oftentimes meandering morning market missive is to identify and understand the "drivers" of the market action.

At times this task is child's play.

A piece of economic news comes out and the market reacts accordingly. One doesn't need a Ph.D. from Wall Street's school of hard knocks to connect the dots when that happens.

However, there are also times when the action in the stock market makes little sense. And in short, Wednesday was one of those days.

The Driver of Wednesday's Action Wasn't Easy to Identify

So, let's go to the video tape and see what we can see. Tuesday night, traders got word that the boys and girls in Washington had been able to make a deal on the budget (insert shocked, gasp here). Yep, that's right, there would be no government shutdown this time around. And what was more astounding was the fact that the deal got done without any public bickering, name calling or hair pulling. Nope, Paul Ryan and his counterpart in the Senate just got it done. Bravo.

See also: Missed Big Gains in 2013? Look Before You Leap in 2014!

To the uninitiated, such news may have created expectations for a rally in the stock market. And in fact, the futures did move up modestly when the first headlines hit the tape. However, it appeared that traders were taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding the potential for the deal to be approved in both the House and Senate before popping the champagne. After all, this wasn't the first go round on the topic of the budget.

To the astonishment of many, word came down on Wednesday morning that the Ryan/Murray deal was expected to get done. Speaker Boehner endorsed it. The Senate seemed to be onboard. Heck, even the President said it was a compromise he could live with. So, cue the buy programs, right?

So Much For The Celebration!

Wrong. Instead of celebrating the fact that lawmakers in Washington had not acted like infants for a change, stocks started heading down at the open. And unfortunately, they continued to head down throughout the day. And by the time the closing bell rang, the Dow (NYSE: DIA) had surrendered 130 points, the S&P 500 (NYSE: SPY) was down 1.13 percent, the NASDAQ (NYSE: QQQ) had given up 1.4 percent, and the Russell 2000 smallcaps (NYSE: IWM) were off 1.64 percent. Ouch!

So, what caused the dance to the downside, you ask? The bottom line is nobody seemed to know. There wasn't any economic data. The members of the FOMC were in their "quiet period." And there wasn't anything terribly big going on across the pond or in Asia. Hmmm....

Here's a tip. When the folks in the mainstream financial media start talking about "profit taking," you know that there is confusion as to why the market is doing what it is doing. In short, this is code for, "We don't have any idea why stocks are heading down, so we're just going to assume there are more sellers than buyers." Not helpful.

The Real Keys

To be sure, one of the reasons behind yesterday's drop was the idea that the budget deal getting done would cause the Fed to begin tapering QE sooner rather than later. Recall that one of the thoughts that led economists not to expect the taper to begin before March was the idea that the economy might be interrupted by the ongoing games being played by lawmakers in Washington. But with a deal done, some argue the taper could begin next week.

See also: Fair Warning - Markets Could Get Ugly!

However, it appears that another key reason stocks fell hard on Wednesday were the words "Dangerous, But Necessary."

You see, word got out that President Obama is close to nominating Stanley Fischer to become the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. No, not Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, rather former Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer.

Mr. Fischer's resume is impressive to say the least. According to the WSJ, "Mr. Fischer is a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former top official at the International Monetary Fund. His former students include Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, and Lawrence Summers, the former head of Mr. Obama's National Economic Council."

In addition, Mr. Fischer has loads of experience with financial crises (a requisite to get a Central Banker gig these days). As the number two guy at the IMF, Fischer helped shape the response to the 1997-98 emerging markets crisis in Russia, Asia, and Latin America. And then for the past eight years, Fischer served as a governor of the Bank of Israel. According to reports, his guidance helped the country come through the 2008 financial crisis nearly unscathed. And in 2010, Fischer was named by Euromoney Magazine as the Central Bank Governor of the year.

Back To That Headline

As word got out that Fischer was likely to replace Janet Yellen (who is known as an uber-dove) as the Fed's Vice Chairman, reports began to circulate about his views on Fed policy. Boom, there is was.

The WSJ reported that earlier this year, Mr. Fischer had some serious concerns about the Fed's new tool - forward guidance. “You can't expect the Fed to spell out what it's going to do,” Mr. Fischer said. “Why? Because it doesn't know.” Uh oh, that doesn't sound good.

However, the real key was the fact that Fischer had called QE3 "dangerous but necessary" earlier in the year.

During an interview at the WSJ CEO Council last month, apparently Fischer had stressed that the Fed's QE efforts, which he termed "extraordinary" were not without risks. “Without the Fed, we'd have had a much deeper recession. Without the extraordinary things that it's done, the economy would be in much worse shape today and we need to remember that."

This is all well and good. But it's the next part that gave traders pause. Mr. Fischer went on to say, "Precisely how to get out of it [QE], at what speed to get out of it, is a much harder thing to measure and to calculate.”

In English, Please...

Apparently nothing Mr. Fischer has said recently is untrue or overtly hawkish. However, when one combines the fact that the next #2 at the Fed isn't onboard with forward guidance and is concerned about the state of the QE program, well, this changes the face of the Fed. And the bottom line is that it's not nearly as friendly as the Bernanke/Yellen combo was.

So, forget all that nonsense about "profit taking." Forget the talk about "tax selling." Ignore babble about stocks not going up on the good budget news. No, this market has been and continues to be all about QE and the taper. And word that Stanley Fischer will likely sit at the right hand of Janet Yellen suggested to investors Wednesday that monetary policy could change sooner than the markets had expected.

In sum, this created a bit of uncertainty relating to what the Fed might do and when. And we all know how the market feels about uncertainty...

Click Here For More of Dave M's "Daily State of the Markets" Commentary

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 the Taper (aka Fed Policy)
      2. The Outlook for Economic Growth
      3. The State of the Budget Deal

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: Moderately Negative
(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: 1780
  • Near-Term Resistance Zone(s): 1813

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: Moderately Positive
  • Volume Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Breadth Thrust Indicator: Neutral
  • Bull/Bear Volume Relationship: Moderately Positive
  • Technical Health of 100 Industry Groups: Neutral

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 moderately oversold from a short-term perspective and remains moderately overbought from an intermediate-term point of view.
  • Market Sentiment: Our primary sentiment model remains 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...

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" — John Maynard Keynes


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.

The Insiders Portfolio: If you are looking for a truly unique approach to stock picking - Check out The Insiders Portfolio. We buy what those who know their company's best are buying - but ONLY when they are buying heavily! P.S. The Insiders is up over 30% in 2013 and has nearly doubled the S&P 500 since 2009.

The IRA/401K Advisor: Stop ignoring your 401K! Our long-term oriented service designed for IRAs and 401Ks strives to keep accounts positioned on the right side of the markets. This is a service you really can't afford not to use.

The Top 5 Portfolio: We keep things simple here by focusing on our five favorite positions. This concentrated stock portfolio employs a rigorous custom stock selection approach to identify market leaders. Risk management strategies are built in to every position.

All Premium Services include a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Got Research?

Remember, you can receive email alerts for more than 20 free research report alerts from including:

State's Chart of the Day - Each day we highlight a top rated stock with a positive technical setup.

The Risk Manager Report - Stay in tune with the market's risk/reward environment.

The “10.0” Report - These are the REAL best-of-breed companies.

The Insiders Report - See what the people who know their company's best are buying.

ETF Leaders Report - Looking for the top performing ETF's? You've come to the right place.

The SOTM 100 Portfolio - The top rated stocks in each market sector.

State's Market Models - Each week we quantify the "state of the market" with a series of models.

The Focus List - Think of the focus list as your own private research department. We do all the work and highlight our top picks each trading day

Mission Statement

At, 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



The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of David Moenning, founder of and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning's opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investment advice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of TopStockPortfolios and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. One should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

Any investment decisions must in all cases be made by the reader or by his or her investment adviser. Do NOT ever purchase any security without doing sufficient research. There is no guarantee that the investment objectives outlined will actually come to pass. All opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Neither the editor, employees, nor any of their affiliates shall have any liability for any loss sustained by anyone who has relied on the information provided.

The analysis provided is based on both technical and fundamental research and is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. Although the information contained is derived from sources which are believed to be reliable, they cannot be guaranteed.

The information contained in our websites and publications is provided by Ridge Publishing Co. Inc. (Ridge). One of the principals of Ridge, Mr. David Moenning, is also President and majority shareholder of Heritage Capital Management, Inc. (HCM) a Chicago-based money management firm. HCM is registered as an investment adviser. HCM also serves as a sub-advisor to other investment advisory firms. Ridge is a publisher and has not registered as an investment adviser. Neither HCM nor Ridge is registered as a broker-dealer.

Employees and affiliates of HCM and Ridge may at times have positions in the securities referred to and may make purchases or sales of these securities while publications are in circulation. Editors will indicate whether they or HCM has a position in stocks or other securities mentioned in any publication. The disclosures will be accurate as of the time of publication and may change thereafter without notice.

Investments in equities carry an inherent element of risk including the potential for significant loss of principal. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Posted in: Broad U.S. Equity ETFs Markets ETFs Best of Benzinga