Market Overview

Institutions & Hedge Funds Are Selling: Watch Out


Institutions and hedge funds are selling stocks. Consider yourself warned. How do I know this? Let me explain simply. There is classic distribution going on and this can be seen clearly in the charts.

1. December 31st, 2013 the S&P 500 hit a new all time high of 1,848.36. The next trading day (January 2nd, 2014) stocks were sold hard. This tells us that as soon as the new year came, money managers sold stocks, taking profits. Remember, window dressing was over as of the 31st of 2013 and taxes on these new sales do not have to be paid until April 2015. Notice how eager they were to sell at the start of the year. That tells us they do not think there is much upside to this market.

2. Last Wednesday, January 15th, 2014, the markets moved higher, making a new all time high of 1,850.84. However, this was just an intra-day all time high as heavy selling came in, pushing the S&P back below the December 31st, 2013 high. One must ask, why was there such selling pressure as soon as the markets broke that high last Wednesday? The institutions are eager to use any excuse to sell. They would not even allow the market to close at a new all time high.

3. Today, the markets opened higher and hit 1,849.31 on the S&P 500. This was shy of a new all time high intra-day by 1.53 points. Please note that the markets this time, could not even take out the high from Wednesday as sellers started selling quickly. The markets have since gone to the negative side.

Notice the trend of distribution is getting stronger. First you had a strong close at all time highs on December 31st, 2013. Then you had a weaker move as the markets broke that high but quickly pulled back below by the end of the day on January 15th, 2014. Then today, the markets opened just underneath those all time highs and sold immediately. Strong, weak and weaker. That is the trend on the S&P 500 as institutions start selling more aggressively.

In addition, please note that margin usage is at all time highs. This is the amount that the retail investor is borrowing to buy stocks. The last time margin usage was at an all time high was in 2007 (before the financial collapse) and in 2000 (when the tech bubble burst). In addition, note that mutual fund money flow (retail investors) has surged dramatically in the last year. The same thing happened in 2007 as well as 1999-2000. Scary stuff.

The bottom line remains...the institutions and hedge funds are unloading their long positions and retail investors should be very scared. Watch out!

Gareth Soloway

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Posted-In: Markets Trading Ideas


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