S&P 500 and Nasdaq selling pressure

The S&P 500 is testing resistance at 1880 and follow-through above 1900 would signal another primary advance. Bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money, however, continues to warn of selling pressure and another secondary correction remains likely. But the primary trend is up.

S&P 500

VIX below 14 suggests low risk typical of a bull market.

S&P 500 VIX

The Nasdaq 100 is testing resistance at 3600/3650. Breakout would suggest another advance, while respect would be cause for concern. Reversal below 3400 would complete a head and shoulders reversal with a target of 3100* at the primary trendline. 13-Week Twiggs Money Flow below zero indicates strong selling pressure.

ASX 200

* Target calculation: 3400 + ( 3700 – 3400 ) = 3100

I would suggest that even a Nasdaq fall to 3100 would not disrupt the bull market. Penetration of the primary trendline at 3100, however, would be cause for concern.

S&P 500 recovery

The S&P 500 recovered above 1850, suggesting an advance to 1950. Breakout above 1900 would confirm. Recovery of 21-day Twiggs Money Flow above its descending trendline indicates that selling pressure is easing. Reversal below 1840 is less likely, but would warn of a test of primary support at 1750.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) retreated to 14, indicating low risk typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 found strong support at 3400 on the weekly chart. Recovery above 3600 would suggest an advance. Breakout above 3700 would confirm, offering a target of 4000*. Recovery of 13-week Twiggs Money Flow above zero would be a bullish sign. Respect of resistance at 3600 would be bearish.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3700 + ( 3700 – 3400 ) = 4000

The primary trend continues upward and none of our market filters indicate elevated risk.

Markets warn of correction

Before we examine the US and Australian markets, please take a look at the two charts below and tell me whether the trend is up or down. If you have a five-year old or six-year old handy, try asking them.

S&P 500

And the second one:

ASX 200

The trend on both is clear. If we invert the charts, you will recognize the S&P 500:

S&P 500

The S&P 500 breach of support at 1840 warns of a secondary correction and a sharp fall on 13-week Twiggs Money suggests selling pressure similar to the correction in late 2012. But the primary trend is up.

Likewise the ASX 200. The index retreated from 5500 and follow-through below 5380 would warn of a secondary correction. But 13-week Twiggs Money Flow oscillating above zero indicates buying pressure and the primary trend remains upward.

ASX 200

Momentum stocks are experiencing a sell-off, but our strategy is to hold existing positions. Attempting to time entries and exits in secondary corrections erodes performance. None of our market filters indicate elevated risk and we are confident that this is a bull market.

Are we in a bull market?

A simple reflection of the weekly trend on major markets using Ichimoku Cloud. Candles above the cloud indicate an up-trend, below the cloud indicates a down-trend, while in the cloud reflects uncertainty. From West to East:
S&P 500
S&P 500
Footsie
FTSE 100
DAX
DAX
ASX 200
ASX 200
Nikkei 225 is testing primary support at 14000 and looks a bit weaker
Nikkei 225
While China is holding above primary support at 1950/2000 but shows no clear trend
Shanghai Composite

Overall, there is a strong case for a bull market.

Market sell-off despite improved job numbers

The market experienced a strong sell-off Friday, despite signs that the Winter slowdown in job creation is over. Nelson Schwartz at the New York Times writes:

The latest numbers are likely to be revised significantly as more information flows into the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even so, they suggest that the economy is not achieving what economists call escape velocity, something that policy makers have long sought. Neither is it falling into the rut some pessimists feared was developing early in 2014.

The S&P 500 retreated below its latest support level of 1880. Follow-through below 1840 would signal a correction, while respect of support would suggest an advance to 1950*. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow continues to warn of medium-term selling pressure and reversal below zero would strengthen the signal. An early correction (without a decent advance above the January high) would be a bearish sign, indicating that long-term sellers outnumber buyers.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) at 14 continues to indicate low risk typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 indicates long-term selling pressure, with a sharp fall following bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow. Breach of the (secondary) rising trendline and support at 3550 warns of a correction to primary support at 3400. Recovery above 3650 is unlikely, but would suggest a bear trap.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3750 + ( 3750 – 3550 ) = 3950

The primary trend remains upward and none of our market filters indicate signs of stress.

S&P 500 breakout

Narrow consolidation on the S&P 500 weekly chart and completion of a shallow correction on the Nasdaq 100 would suggest a strong up-trend.

The S&P 500 broke through resistance at 1875/1880, signaling an advance to 1950*. Layering above 1850 throughout March reflected strong selling, with bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow warning of medium-term selling pressure, but upward breakout indicates that buyers have prevailed. Reversal below 1875 is unlikely, but would warn of a bull trap — as would a peak below the descending trendline on Twiggs Money Flow.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) at 13 indicates low risk typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 found support at 3550 and the (secondary) ascending trendline. Recovery above 3700 would confirm another advance, but continued bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow would warn of persistent selling pressure.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3750 + ( 3750 – 3550 ) = 3950

S&P 500 continues to rally

The S&P 500 rally is testing resistance at 1875/1880. Volumes are light, but an attempted breakout above 1880 should reveal any patient sellers lying in wait. Successful breakout would signal an advance to 1950*, but bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow continues to warn of medium-term selling pressure.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

S&P 500 not yet out of the woods

The S&P 500 rallied off support at 1840/1850 but a weak close warns of further resistance. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow (not shown) indicates medium-term selling pressure. I have highlighted daily Volume that is more than 1 standard deviation outside the 50-day moving average on the graph below. The latest red bar showed strong resistance at triple-witching hour, but the last two rallies on low volume also suggest a lack of commitment from buyers. Reversal below 1840 would signal a correction. Breakout above 1880 is less likely, but would signal an advance to 1950*.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) below 15, however, continues to indicate low risk typical of a bull market.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 below 3600 indicates a correction. Penetration of the (secondary) rising trendline would strengthen the signal. Sharply falling 21-day Twiggs Money Flow, following bearish divergence, warns of strong selling pressure and a test of primary support at 3400/3420. Recovery above 3650 is unlikely, but would indicate another advance.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3600 + ( 3600 – 3400 ) = 3800

Bellwether Transport stock Fedex is headed for another test of primary support at $128/$130. Reversal of 13-week Twiggs Money Flow below zero warns of strong selling pressure and a primary down-trend. Failure of primary support would confirm, suggesting a broad economic slow-down.

Fedex

Is the S&P 500 overvalued?

The daily press appears convinced the S&P 500 is overvalued and due for a crash. Yet the macro-economic and volatility filters that we use at Porter Capital and Research & Investment — to identify market risk so that we can move to cash when risks are elevated — show no signs of stress. So I have been delving into some of the aggregate index data, kindly provided by Standard and Poors, to see whether some of their arguments hold water.

The Price-Earnings ratio for the S&P 500 itself is not excessive when compared to the last decade.

S&P 500 Price-Earnings ratio

The bears argue, however, that earnings are unsustainable. One reason advanced for this is that earnings growth has outstripped sales, with corporations focusing on the bottom line rather than business growth.

Faced with weak domestic demand, large US corporates have actively sought to manage their expenses so as to meet and exceed the market’s expectations. Combined with the unwinding of provisions taken in the GFC, cost management has allowed US corporates to achieve a 124% increase in 12-month trailing earnings off the back of a 25% increase in 12-month trailing sales since October 2009.
~ Elliott Clarke, Westpac

That may be so, but any profit increase would look massive if compared to earnings in 2009. When we plot earnings against sales (per share), it tells a different story. Earnings as a percentage of sales is in the same band (7% – 9%) as 2003 to 2006. A rise above 9% would suggest that earnings may not be sustainable, but not if they continue in their current range.

S&P 500 Earnings/Sales

The second reason advanced is that business investment is falling. Westpac put up a chart that shows US equipment investment growth is close to zero. But we also need to consider that accelerated tax write-offs led to a surge in investment in 2009/2010. The accelerated write-offs expired, but the level of investment merely stopped growing and has not fallen as I had expected.

Westpac: US Equipment Investment Poor

Private (non-residential) fixed investment as a whole is rising as a percentage of GDP, not falling.

S&P 500 Price to Book Value

Lastly, when we compare the S&P 500 to underlying net asset value per share, it shows how frothy the market was before the Dotcom crash, with the index trading at 5 times book value. That kind of premium is clearly unsustainable without double-digit GDP growth, which was never going to happen. But the current ratio of below 2.50 is modest compared to the past decade and quite sustainable.

S&P 500 Price to Book Value

I am not saying that everything is rosy — it never is — but if sales and earnings continue to grow apace, and with private fixed investment rising, the current price-earnings ratio does not look excessive.

S&P 500 correction threat

The S&P 500 continues to threaten a correction. Bearish divergence on 21-day Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term selling pressure. Breach of support at 1840 would confirm a correction, while recovery above 1880 would signal an advance to 1950*.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) at 15, however, suggests low market risk.

VIX Index

S&P 500 tests resistance

The S&P 500 found support at 1840 and is testing resistance at 1875/1880. Rising 21-day Twiggs Money Flow indicates short-term buying pressure. Breakout above 1880 would signal an advance to 1950*. Reversal below 1840 is less likely, but would warn of a secondary correction.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) below 20 continues to indicate low market risk.

VIX Index

S&P up-trend still healthy

The S&P 500 retreated below support at 1850, warning of a correction, but the primary up-trend remains strong. Trend strength is depicted by this weekly chart of Ichimoku Cloud, with a buy signal at the start of 2013 and price holding high above a green cloud indicating trend strength.

S&P 500

Bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates medium-term selling pressure, consistent with a secondary correction, but respect of the rising trendline would signal a healthy up-trend. And recovery above 1850 would offer a target of 1950*.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 1850 + ( 1850 – 1750 ) = 1950

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is rising and a sustained shift above 20 would signal an increase from low to moderate risk.

VIX Index

The Nasdaq 100 also shows bearish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow, warning of medium-term selling pressure. Breach of the rising trendline would test primary support at 3400, while respect would confirm a healthy up-trend. Recovery above 3650 would offer a target of 3800*.

Nasdaq 100

* Target calculation: 3600 + ( 3600 – 3400 ) = 3800