When to sell and when to buy?

Investors are faced with the same emotional tug-of-war at every correction: Do I sell and abandon my positions or do I sit tight and ride out the storm? Here are a couple of useful perspectives:

What is your investment time frame?

Do you plan to invest for the long-term (5 to 10 years) or is your investment horizon a matter of months or weeks? If your investment horizon is long-term, you are investing for the primary trend. Your intention is unlikely to be to time secondary market movements.

Is timing secondary corrections profitable?

Our research shows that the average re-entry point, after brokerage and slippage is higher than the exit point and erodes performance.

Has the earning capacity of stocks you hold been affected by the correction?

A correction is a wave of negative sentiment, normally caused by an external shock — like the prospect of higher interest rates, oil prices, some new conflict or a threat to international trade. Where the market decides that earnings are unaffected and there is no permanent loss of value, it tends to recover fairly quickly. If, however, the market decides that there is a long-lasting effect on earnings then stocks are likely to be re-rated — resulting in a long-lasting drop in value. The probability of the former is far higher than the latter: the ratio of primary to secondary adjustments is low.

When is the best time to hold Momentum stocks?

We have not done a wide-ranging study of this, but the best two months performance for our ASX200 Prime Momentum strategy in the last two years were July 2013 (11.00%) and February 2014 (9.04%) — both in the middle of corrections.

ASX 200 Corrections

Attempt to time the correction and you may miss the best-performing months.

Gold rallies

Spot gold rallied late Friday, breaking the first line of resistance at $1600/ounce. Penetration of the declining trendline suggests that the down-trend is weakening, but 63-day Twiggs Momentum remains firmly below zero. Retracement that respects new support at $1600 would strengthen the bull signal, however, as would recovery of Momentum above zero.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1500 – ( 1800 – 1500 ) = 1200

Spot gold tests $1530

The Dollar Index followed through after last week’s breakout above resistance at 81.50/82.00, confirming the fresh advance signaled by a 63-day Twiggs Momentum trough above zero. Target for the advance is 86.00*.

US Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 82 + ( 82 – 78 ) = 86

On the daily chart, spot gold tests medium-term support at $1530/ounce. Long tails indicate buying support but the rising dollar continues to apply downward pressure. Breach of support and follow-through below $1500 would signal a long-term decline to $1200/ounce*. Declining 63-day Twiggs Momentum (below zero) already indicates a primary down-trend. Recovery above $1600 is less likely but would indicate that the down-trend is weakening.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1500 – ( 1800 – 1500 ) = 1200

Asian markets

The Shanghai Composite Index reflects China’s controlled slow-down, edging lower with intermittent bear market rallies. The index is currently testing the descending (secondary) trendline at 2500. Penetration would offer a target of 2650 but would not indicate that the primary down-trend is over. Failure of support at 2300/2350 remains more likely and would offer a target of 2000.

Shanghai Composite Index

* Target calculation: 2300 – ( 2600 – 2300 ) = 2000

HongKong’s Hang Seng Index is headed for a test of the (primary) descending trendline at 21000; breakout above 20000 would confirm. The primary trend remains downward, however, and respect of the trendline would suggest another test of 16000.

Hang Seng Index

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index is ranging between 8400 and 9100. Breakout would indicate future trend direction.

Nikkei 225 Index

* Target calculation: 8400 – ( 9000 – 8400 ) = 7800

South Korea’s Seoul Composite Index continues to reflect buying pressure on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow. Follow-through above recent highs would indicate a strong bear rally, but the primary trend remains downward.

Seoul Composite Index

* Target calculation: 1900 + ( 1900 – 1800 ) = 2000

Dollar rebounds as euro-zone debt crisis drags on

The Dollar Index is consolidating below resistance at 77.50. Breach of the descending trendline suggests the correction is over and recovery of 63-day Twiggs Momentum above the zero line indicates that the primary trend remains upward. Breakout above 77.50 would offer a medium-term target of 80*.

US Dollar Index

* Target calculation: 77.50 + ( 77.50 – 75.00 ) = 80.00

Gold monthly chart

Spot gold remains in a strong primary up-trend on the monthly chart. Breakout below support at $1500 — or a 63-day Twiggs Momentum cross to below zero — would warn of a reversal, but respect of $1500 support would indicate another primary advance with a target of 2300*.

Spot Gold Monthly

* Target calculation: 1900 + (1900 – 1500 ) = 2300

Spot gold correction tests $1600

Spot gold is testing support at $1600/ounce, but the primary trend remains upward. Expect a rally to the declining trendline. Breakout above $1700 would indicate the correction is weakening, while failure of support would test $1500*.

Spot Gold

* Target calculation: 1700 – ( 1900 – 1700 ) = 1500

Amex Gold Bugs Index, representing un-hedged gold stocks, is testing primary support at 500. Failure of support would warn of a reversal in the primary trend and would be a bearish sign for spot metal prices.

Amex Gold Bugs Index

Dollar surges as Fed nixes QE3

The US Dollar Index surged after the latest FOMC statement avoided any mention of additional purchases of Treasuries or mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Though they did leave the door ajar with their concluding paragraph:

………The Committee discussed the range of policy tools available to promote a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability. It will continue to assess the economic outlook in light of incoming information and is prepared to employ its tools as appropriate.

The index respected the new support level at 76.00, confirming a primary advance to 79* — the start of a primary up-trend. 63-Day Twiggs Momentum crossed to above zero, further strengthening the primary trend signal; a large trough that respects the zero line would provide final confirmation.

US Dollar Index $DXY

* Target calculation: 76 + ( 76 – 73 ) = 79

Reminder: we’re in a bear market

Don’t be fooled by current month-end froth in the markets — into thinking that the bear market is over or that the early August plunge was a false signal. The S&P 500 Index has made little headway after completing a double bottom at 1200 despite average volumes indicating the absence of strong selling. 63-Day Momentum peaking below the zero line indicates a primary down-trend. Expect the bear rally to test resistance at 1250/1260 before a retreat to 1100. Breach of 1100 would find support at the 2010 low of 1000, but the calculated target is even lower*.

S&P500 Index

* Target calculation: 1100 – ( 1250 – 1100 ) = 950

The Nasdaq 100 performed better, clearing 2200 to complete a double bottom with a target of 2350*. Bullish divergence on 13-week Twiggs Money Flow indicates buying pressure. But this is a bear rally in the middle of a bear market, and further falls on the Dow/S&P 500 would drag the Nasdaq lower.

Nasdaq100 Index

* Target calculation: 2200 + ( 2200 – 2050 ) = 2350

Fedex and UPS remain in a primary down-trend, indicating that economic activity levels remain poor.

Fedex and UPS

Brent Crude ignores good news

Brent crude is stubbornly holding above support at $104/$105 per barrel despite the promise of an early resolution to the conflict in Libya. Even WTI Light crude [lime] recovered slightly after improved manufacturing orders in the US. But the primary trend is down and failure of support at $104 would offer a target of $90 per barrel.

Brent Crude and WTI Light Crude Oil

* Target calculation: 105 – ( 120 – 105 ) = 90