The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) closed today at 4488, down 12 points or 0.3%. SPX closed the week down 1.3%. The only good news that trading appears to have stabilized over the past three trading sessions. Resistance from early February has proven formidable. Trading volume ran below the 50-day moving average (dma) again this week – no conviction.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, opened Monday at 20.8% and closed today at 21.2%. Declining VIX over the past two days underscores the sideways nature of recent trading. The large players aren’t concerned about a large decline.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM closed today at 197.87, down 0.3%. IWM opened the week at 207.87, resulting in a loss of 2.4% for the week. IWM is again below both its 50 dma and its 200 dma.
The NASDAQ Composite index closed at 13,711 today, down 186 points or -1.3%, and down a whopping 4.1% for the week. Trading volume ran below the 50 dma almost the entire week.
Last week’s market began to show the resistance set by the highs in early February but Wednesday’s gap down on the broad market indices was a large step lower.
The one redeeming factor for this week’s market is the trading of the S&P 500 right along that 200 dma. At least the bleeding has stopped – for now. NASDAQ and the Russell 2000 are leading the market lower. Defensive stock sectors such as utilities and healthcare are gaining and technology and transportation stocks are being sold. Increasing fuel costs are certainly a factor in transportation but these stocks are also sensitive to declining economic growth. Rising interest rates will be a headwind for economy and, in turn, the stock market.
My trading stance is unchanged. I am cautious about entering new trades; I take profits whenever I can rather than hold and hope for larger gains; I close the losers quickly. So far it doesn’t appear the markets are declining farther, but I remain cautious.