The Stock Market

     

 

 

Approaching a Tipping Point

Taking the path of least resistance doesn’t always lead to places worth going.  In fact, it often leads to places that are better to avoid.  Repeatedly skipping work to sleep in and living off credit cards will eventually lead to the poorhouse.

 

Sometimes the path of least resistance turns out to be problematic

 

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Counterintuitive Moves

Something odd happened late in the day in Wednesday’s trading session, which prompted a number of people to mail in comments or ask a question or two. Since we have discussed this issue previously, we decided this was a good opportunity to briefly elaborate on the topic again in these pages.

A strong ADP jobs report for March was released on Wednesday, and the gold price dutifully declined ahead of it already, while the stock market surged concurrently. Later in the day, the Fed minutes were published, and their tone was definitely seen as very “hawkish”, at least by today’s standards.

 

Strange happenings alert!

 

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Is Seasonality in Individual Stocks Based on Sound Evidence?

People often wonder whether it is actually possible to make profitable trades by taking advantage of seasonal trends in individual stocks. Most investors accept the idea that seasonal trends in commodities exist and are also quite open-minded with respect to recurring phenomena such as the year-end rally in stock indexes.

 

S&P 500 Index, 30-year seasonal chart – the year-end rally is highlighted. It has been observed in 24 of the past 30 years and its average gain far exceeded the average loss of the six losing years. Moreover, its average gain represents more than a quarter of the average annual return of the index. The existence of this pattern is widely acknowledged and there are reasonable explanations for it.  Source: Seasonax

 

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Lumpy but Robust

 

[ed note: this article has originally appeared at the Evil Speculator and was written by trader and ES contributor Scott. We provide a link to Scott’s past articles below this post for readers who want to get more familiar with his ideas and/or any unusual terminology used in this article]

 

One continual theme in my trading is that every time I think I have it figured out, I get punched in the face by an unexpected problem. The tendency is to go more complicated, but often the solution is a degree of acceptance with respect to the nature of the game. Sometimes my edges work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they stop working for long periods of six months or more.

 

Financial markets – multi-layered like onions

 

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Systematic Trading Based on Statistics

Trading methods based on statistics represent an unusual approach for many investors. Evaluation of a security’s fundamental merits is not of concern, even though it can of course be done additionally. Rather, the only important criterion consists of typical price patterns determined by statistical examination of past trends.

 

Fundamental considerations such as the valuation of stocks are not really relevant to the statistics-based trading approach discussed here. This is not to say that they are not important as such – one should certainly be aware of the fundamental backdrop. The point is only that strategies based on e.g. seasonality have a different focus.

 

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Blow-Off Pattern Recognition

As noted in Part 1, historically, blow-patterns in stock markets share many characteristics.  One of them is a shifting monetary backdrop, which becomes more hostile just as prices begin to rise at an accelerated pace, the other is the psychological backdrop to the move, which entails growing pressure on the remaining skeptics and helps investors to rationalize their exposure to overvalued markets. In addition to this, the chart patterns of  stock indexes before and after blow-off moves are displaying noteworthy similarities as well.

 

“On Margin” – a late 1929 cartoon illustrating the widespread obsession with the stock market at the time. There was just a 10% margin requirement, i.e., investors could leverage their capital at a ratio of 10:1. The demand for margin credit was so strong, that it pushed call money lending rates in New York up quite noticeably. This in turn made it increasingly difficult to maintain extremely leveraged positions.

 

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Defying Expectations

Why is the stock market seemingly so utterly oblivious to the potential dangers and in some respects quite obvious fundamental problems the global economy faces? Why in particular does this happen at a time when valuations are already extremely stretched? Questions along these lines are raised increasingly often by our correspondents lately. One could be smug about it and say “it’s all technical”, but there is more to it than that. It may not be rocket science, but there are a few issues that are probably not getting the attention they deserve.

 

The stock market has blown widespread expectations out of the water by embarking on a seemingly unstoppable rally since Donald Trump was elected POTUS.

Cartoon by Frank Hanley

 

As you can see below, we have marked “Brexit day” on the chart as well, which was another noteworthy juncture. Not only was the success of the “Leave” campaign just as big a surprise as Trump’s election victory, but it was yet another occasion on which the market ended up fooling most observers by dramatically reversing course after a mere two days of relatively mild panic selling.

 

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The Worst Job in the World

The rewards of being the President, these days, are few and far between.  Just ask President Trump.  The work hours are terrible, the pay is far less than that of a corporate CEO, and you’re endlessly surrounded by shabby politicians.  What’s more, the  hand towels  aboard Air Force One have the shoddy over washed roughness of those at a turnpike Motel 6.  But that’s not the worst of it.

 

While we’re at it, let us introduce you to the runner-up, i.e., the second-worst job in the world. We are not sure what job title this poor man actually has (elephant rectum administrator? Pachyderm intestinal inspection officer?), but we sure hope he’s at least getting paid well.

Photo via Top Media Trends

 

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A Simple Way

In their efforts to beat the market, many investors are spending a lot of time searching for rare undiscovered gems or sophisticated trading rules.

There is actually a simpler way.

 

Not everything is simple – but some things actually are.

 

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To Unleash or Not to Unleash, That is the Question…

LOVINGSTON, VIRGINIA –  Corporate earnings have been going down for nearly three years. They are now about 10% below the level set in the late summer of 2014. Why should stocks be so expensive?

 

Example of something that one should better not unleash. The probability that a win-lose proposition will develop upon meeting it seems high. It wins, because it gets to eat…

Image credit: Urs Hagen

 

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Looming Currency and Liquidity Problems

The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Advisory Board was held on January 11, approximately one month ago. A download link to a PDF document containing the full transcript including charts an be found at the end of this post. As always, a broad range of topics was discussed; although some time has passed since the meeting, all these issues remain relevant. Our comments below are taking developments that have taken place since then into account.

 

USD-CNY, the onshore exchange rate of the yuan vs. the USD. After years of relentless appreciation, the yuan topped in early 2014 and has weakened just as relentlessly ever since. The yuan’s top coincided with the beginning of the “tapering” of the Fed’s QE3 debt monetization program and the peak in China’s foreign exchange reserves at just below $4 trillion. There was practically no lead time involved, which is rare. Although the yuan is not convertible and therefore by definition a “manipulated currency” (is there a fiat currency that isn’t manipulated?), the assertion that China’s authorities are deliberately weakening the yuan is erroneous. The opposite is true: they are trying to keep it from falling or are at least trying to slow down its descent with every trick in the book (every intermittent phase of yuan strength since the beginning of the decline was triggered by intervention). Understandably so: due to the close correlation between the level of forex reserves and credit and money supply growth in China, a rapid depletion of reserves is likely to impact the country’s giant credit bubble. One of the moving parts in this equation are bank reserve requirements, which the PBoC essentially uses to control the extent of credit growth triggered by the accumulation of reserves (a.k.a. “sterilization”). These peaked at 21.5% in June 2011 and were since then lowered to 17% to keep domestic credit expansion going – click to enlarge.

 

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Chasing Entry Points

Something similar to the following has probably happened to you at some point: you want to buy a stock on a certain day and in order to time your entry, you start watching how it trades. Alas, the price rises and rises, and your patience begins to wear thin. Shouldn’t a correction set in soon and provide you with a more favorable buying opportunity?

 

Apple-Spotting – a five minute intraday chart showing the action in AAPL on February 1, 2017 – an example that illustrated the general principle discussed here quite well. We could of course have picked another stock or an index future, but AAPL was convenient on account of the earnings beat it announced on the preceding evening, which triggered relentless buying pressure over most of the trading day [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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