Dr. Duke's Blog
Do you know any trading coaches who discuss the market candidly without any marketing hype? Dr. Duke publishes a weekly newsletter and shares the track records of his trading services. If you have questions about any of his services, Ask Dr. Duke.
Santa Claus Rally On Tap?
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) closed this holiday shortened week at 4026, down 1.1 point on the day, but up 1.8% for the week. Trading volume was typical of Thanksgiving week with many traders on holiday. The period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year is traditionally bullish and this week appears to be following that trend, but this is an unusual year for the country and the economy. Volume ran below average all week and came in at 893 million shares today, well below the 50-day moving average (dma) at 2.6 billion shares.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, opened the week at 24.1% and declined all week to today’s close at 20.5%.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM closed today at 185.58, up less than half a point on the day, but IWM rose 1.5% this week. IWM broke through its 200 dma on Wednesday and held that level today.
The NASDAQ Composite index was essentially unchanged today, closing at 11,226, up only 59 points or less than half a percent. NASDAQ’s trading volume ran well below the 50 dma all week and traded only 2.2 billion shares today with the 50 dma at 4.75 billion shares.
Using the S&P 500 as our proxy for the market as a whole, the bullish rally that began on November 10th was stopped by the bears last week, but the support level at 3900 held (that support level was the high of the October rally that was stopped on November 1st).
Traditionally, the period from Thanksgiving into the first of the year has usually been bullish and small caps have outperformed the blue chips. So, this may be a reasonably bullish period for the market, even though we are far from being able to say the bear market has been broken.
To put things in perspective, The S&P 500 opened the year at 4797, declined and then rallied back to 4632 on March 29th. The latest rally took SPX to 4305 on August 16th. Today’s close is 16% below the high at the beginning of the year. Even if this bullish period culminates in the classic Santa Claus rally at the end of the year, we aren’t out of the woods yet. My caution will continue until we reclaim that SPX high of 2022.
However, I am trying pick off some low hanging fruit from now until the end of the year. But my finger is on the button for the escape hatch. I remain largely in cash, trading small, and taking profits whenever I can.
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) posted a classic doji candlestick on Friday with a close at 3695, up 0.5% on the day and down 0.3% for the week. Doji candlesticks are signals of indecision as the bulls push the market higher, only to have bears pull it back lower, and the market closes very close to where it opened. The bulls and bears are at a standoff. SPX essentially traded sideways this week with a high of 4029 and a low of 3907. Trading volume ran below the 50-day moving average (dma) all week with a minor exception on Tuesday.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed down yesterday at 23% after opening the week at 24%. Volatility effectively tracked sideways for the week with a high at 26% and a low at 23%, consistent with market trading action.
The NASDAQ Composite index closed Friday at 11,146, essentially flat with a rise of only one point, but down 0.8% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume spiked higher on Tuesday’s strong bullish run but declined the balance of the week.
The market continues to focus on record rates of inflation and fear that the Fed will raise interest rates too aggressively to curtail inflation. Last week’s CPI report provided some welcome news with the year over year CPI declining to 7.7% from the last reading of +8.2%. That prompted the bulls to push the market higher, reasoning that the Fed would relax their pace of rate hikes and the economy would begin to fire on all cylinders.
A couple of hawkish comments from FOMC members threw cold water on those expectations for the Fed slowing their rate hikes and the market stalled. The good news is that a new bearish downtrend didn’t occur. Thus far, the market is churning sideways on declining trading volume. My assessment is that the large majority of institutional traders are essentially sitting on the sidelines, waiting for a clear signal one way or the other.
Market analysts expect corporate earnings to take a hit as companies are unable to pass through the price increases they are incurring. Earnings growth for the third quarter of 2022 grew 2.2%, the lowest rate of growth since Q3 2020. Analysts expect stock prices to decline further to compensate for the decline in earnings.
Whether we like it or not, the economy is in recession. We clearly have a large number of able bodied Americans who are choosing not to work. Today, I saw a sign at Walgreens offering a starting bonus of $1,250 for a pharmacy technician.
I remain largely in cash, trading small, and taking profits whenever I can.
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) gapped open higher on Thursday recovering the losses on Wednesday. SPX closed today at 3993, up 37 points or +0.9% on the day and up 5.6% for the week. Trading volume ran below the
50-day moving average (dma) early in the week and spiked higher on Thursday’s strong run higher.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed down today at 22.5% after opening the week at 25.7%. The largest decline in the week was on Thursday as the market spiked higher.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM followed the lead of the large blue chips all week, down on Wednesday and then spiking higher on Thursday. IWM closed today at 186.90, up 1.52 points or 0.8%, but up a full four percent on the week.
The NASDAQ Composite index closed today at 11,323, up 209 points or 1.9%, and up 7.7% on the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume spiked higher on Thursday’s strong bullish run but fell below the 50 dma today.
The market has been focused on two issues: record rates of inflation and the fear that the Fed would raise interest rates too aggressively to curtail inflation. Last week’s FOMC announcement pushed more analysts into the hard landing camp and the market responded negatively. The election results appeared to initially disappoint traders with a weak day on Wednesday. But the other core issue worrying the market has been the record rates of inflation and the CPI report this week provided some welcome news with the year over year CPI declining to 7.7% from the last reading of +8.2%.
I believe the decline in the CPI numbers encouraged traders that the Fed may be more inclined to moderate their rate hikes. However, all it will take is some hawkish comments from a Fed member to scare the market. I expect the extreme price volatility we have seen all year may continue.
The markets traded to a high on September 12th before entering this latest decline. At today’s close, SPX is 3.2% below those highs, NASDAQ is 8.4% below and IWM is only 1.1% below. The most bullish point here is how close the small to mid-cap stocks of the Russell 2000 (IWM) are to the earlier highs in September. IWM actually pulled back from that resistance level today. Those most recent highs are the next significant hurdle for the bulls.
This economy is far from healthy and one good CPI report doesn’t provide much confidence. I am testing the waters with a couple of bullish trades, but I remain cautious.
Testing Support Again
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) recovered earlier losses in the week and closed up 51 points at 3882, up 1.4% on the day and up 2.9% for the week. Trading volume ran at or above the 50-day moving average (dma) all week.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed down today at 24.6% after opening the week at 26.9%. Even though the market declined significantly after the FOMC announcement, VIX steadily declined all week. This divergence was an early signal that the decline earlier in the week wasn’t likely to continue today.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM followed the lead of the large blue chips today and rallied 1.4% to close at 178.68. But IWM remains down nearly two percent for the week. IWM’s rise yesterday was another signal that the decline earlier in the week wasn’t likely to continue.
The NASDAQ Composite index closed up 1.3% at 10,475 but remained down five percent for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume fell below the 50 dma today.
The market has been focused on two issues: record rates of inflation and the concern that the Fed would raise interest rates significantly to curtail inflation. Market analysts have been debating whether the Fed policies will result in a so-called soft or hard landing for the economy. This week’s announcement has pushed more analysts into the hard landing camp.
The key question now is the degree to which earnings will be decreased by the record rates of inflation. The most fundamental analysis of a stock price is to view it as the price of the time adjusted cash flow for the stock’s business. Hence, if earnings are declining, the stock price must decline. Higher interest rates exacerbate this decline.
This week’s announcement of another 75 basis point increase in the federal discount rate was priced into the markets – no surprise there. However, Powell’s comments during the press conference spiked worries that more rate hikes are coming. Markets rose initially but then plummeted. Yet the VIX declined. This VIX divergence was a signal that the market consensus has not panicked.
I am not in the camp of the “sky is falling” bears, expecting a severe market crash, but I can’t be bullish in the middle of a recession. My recommendation remains to stay on the sidelines.
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) spiked higher today and closed up 87 points at 3753, up 2.4% on the day and up 3.1% for the week. Trading volume spiked to three billion shares today, well above the 50-day moving average (dma) at 2.4 billion shares.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed down today at 29.7% after opening the week at 32.3%. Even though the market was up dramatically today, volatility did not decline as much as I would have expected. Obviously, traders remain a bit on edge.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM followed the lead of the large blue chips today and rallied up almost four points to close at 172.70, up 2.2% today and up 1.5% for the week. Watching the small cap stocks lead the market higher is encouraging. The question is whether it will hold next week.
The NASDAQ Composite index set a new low for the year last week, down 36%. But today’s strong reversal changed that tune, closing up 2.3% at 10,860, and up 2.7% for the week. However, NASDAQ’s trading volume barely reached the 50 dma today, so I have to wonder if this really is the beginning of a new trend higher.
The market set its new low for the year last Thursday and tried to recover through this past Tuesday, but then gave back much of those interim gains. Today’s market spike returned us to the highs set on Tuesday. The gain on the S&P 500 was accomplished with a strong spike in volume and that convinced the analysts at IBD to move their market assessment from Market In Correction to Confirmed Uptrend.
This year’s trading in the markets may have jaded me, but I am sure I have seen this show before. I jumped in with both feet a couple of times earlier this year and then had my head handed to me. The fact that VIX remains essentially at 30% today, even in the face of a strong day of trading, is a warning sign.
Today’s market surge in the S&P 500 was joined by NASDAQ and the Russell 2000 and that is certainly a good sign. But I remain cautious. My scars are fresh.
My recommendation from last week was to stay on the sidelines until we witness a clear bounce from the June lows. This week’s trading action wasn’t convincing. I respectfully disagree with IBD. Record rates of inflation and a Fed determined to continue raising the discount rate have not disappeared. Last week’s recommendation to stay on the sidelines remains good advice.
New Market Lows
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) set a new low for 2022 yesterday at 3492, down 27% on the year. SPX opened higher this morning at 3690, but could not hold the gains, closing down 87 points at 3583, down 2.4% on the day and down 1.8% for the week. Trading volume spiked to 3.2 billion shares yesterday and remained above the 50-day moving average (dma) today with 2.6 billion shares.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, closed down today at 32% after spiking as high as 35% earlier this week. This level of volatility remains a concern. It seems like we have been saying this all year, but this is a nervous market.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM did not set a new low for the year on Thursday, which I regard as bullish since the small cap stocks usually lead markets lower in bear markets. IWM closed today at 166.81, down 4.6 points or -2.7% on the day and down 1.5% for the week.
The NASDAQ Composite index set a new low for the year on Thursday at 10,089, down 36%. NASDAQ closed today at 10,321, down 328 points or 3.1% on the day and down 3.2% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume spiked above the 50 dma on Thursday but remained below average the rest of the week.
On Monday, October 3rd, it appeared that the market had found support at the June lows. SPX gapped open the next day and set up a series of sideways trading days. Then SPX gapped downward last Friday and proceeded to break the June lows. The market opened much lower this past Thursday but immediately started a strong run higher, led by the financial stocks.
Thursday was a strong day for the markets, but Thursday’s opening set a new market low for 2022. The S&P 500 index touched down at -27%, and NASDAQ recorded a low of -36%. The Russell 2000 index, measured via IWM, did not quite reach its June low at -28%. Normally, the high beta stocks of the Russell 2000 would be leading the race to the bottom, but not this time. That is the only positive sign I can find in this market.
The only new trades I entered this week for the trading group were earnings plays on WBA (+16%), JPM (+17%), and UNH (+28%). Overnight earnings trades incur more risk, but they don’t require the trader to have a conviction for overall market direction. That market assessment has proven difficult to impossible this year.
I closed the October SPX iron condor for the Flying With The Condor™ subscribers for a gain of 23%. That service is up 27% for 2022, compared to the S&P 500 at -23%. This has been an excellent year for non-directional trading. These positions are far enough out of the money to withstand the price volatility typical of this year’s market.
My recommendation is to stay in cash until we witness a clear bounce from the June lows with follow through.
A Lower Low
- Written by Dr. Duke
One of the first principles taught to beginning stock traders for reading charts is “Higher highs and higher lows form an uptrend and lower highs and lower lows form a down trend”. Ever since the fed announcement last week, traders watched the chart to see if the June lows would be broken. Until about 1:30 pm ET today, it appeared that the Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) was finding support at the June lows around 3640, but then it broke down and steadily declined into the close. SPX closed at 3586, down 55 points or -1.5% on the day and down 2.6% this week. SPX declined 8.9% in September. As one might expect on a dramatic break lower, trading volume spiked to 3.5 billion shares, well above the 50-day moving average (dma) at 2.3 billion shares.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, opened and closed today at 31.6%. The range was unusually large with a low at 29.4% and a high at 33.3%. This suggests that the decline late this afternoon didn’t panic the traders. Perhaps the large institutional traders were already adequately hedged.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM’s trading pattern differed from the S&P 500 in that it essentially traded sideways all week (down 0.3%) and never reached its June low. IWM closed today at 164.92, down 1.21 or -0.7%. The Russell 2000 normally leads the market lower in a correction, so today’s trading was a bit of a surprise.
The NASDAQ Composite index followed the S&P 500’s decline this afternoon but NASDAQ didn’t break its June low and didn’t spike its trading volume. NASDAQ closed at 10,576, down 162 points or 1.5% on the day and down 2.4% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume was at or below the 50 dma all week. The selling pressure in the NASDAQ stocks was much stronger earlier this year but it appears the sentiment has shifted.
The market gave every indication this week that it was finding support at the June lows. At first blush, this afternoon’s late decline appeared to break that support level, at least on the S&P 500 stocks. But SPX’s implied volatility was unchanged on the day – interesting. I would have expected it to spike higher with the selling pressure this afternoon. Both NASDAQ and the Russell 2000 have not yet broken their June lows.
I am more inclined to believe today’s trading was a test of the previous lows rather than a break that will lead the market significantly lower. But I am not going to test that hypothesis with my money or my clients’ money.
My recommendation remains the same. Stay on the sidelines until we witness a clear bounce from the June lows. Be patient. It is better to miss a bit of the turn higher rather than find that you jumped back in too soon.
Bouncing From the June Lows?
- Written by Dr. Duke
The FOMC announcement this week overwhelmed all other news for traders. And the market did not like the message they inferred from the rate hike. The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) closed today at 3693, down 65 points or -1.7%. SPX opened the week at 3850, so today’s close represented a decline of 4.1% for the week. This month is setting up to be one of the weaker Septembers in market history. Trading volume was modestly higher than the 50-day moving average (dma) all week, but we did not witness a significant spike in volume as we did last Friday.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, opened the week at 27.7% and spiked to 32.3% today before settling into the close at 29.9%. VIX has been steadily rising since early September, probably in anticipation of the FOMC announcement.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. IWM traded lower over the last three days, closing today at 167.31, down 4.08 or -2.4%. IWM opened the week at 177.01 for a weekly decline of 5.5%. IWM’s June low was 163 and today’s low was 165 before it recovered into the close.
The NASDAQ Composite index matched the S&P 500’s decline today, closing at 10,868 , down 199 points or 1.8% on the day and down 4.2% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume was below the 50 dma all week. NASDAQ took the largest declines into the June low but did not stand out this week. Perhaps the selling pressure for the formerly hot NASDAQ stocks has slowed.
The market moving event this week was the FOMC meeting with the discount rate increasing 75 basis points to result in a range of 3.00% to 3.25%. The consensus expectation of market analysts was for a 75 basis point rate hike. That appeared to be priced into the market’s prices and the market actually rose for a few minutes after the announcment. Then it settled modestly lower into the close Wednesday as Powell’s remarks at the press conference appeared rather hawkish.
As market analysts reviewed the members’ dot map of rate predictions, the overnight mood shifted significantly with gap openings lower yesterday and again today. FOMC members are projecting a discount rate of 4.4% by year end, peaking at 4.6% in 2023 and declining somewhat in 2024. The market interpreted this as the beginning of the “hard landing” scenario where higher interest rates push the economy into a serious recession.
I was considering taking this opportunity to sell far OTM SPX put spreads for my Flying With The Condor™ trading service. But the market continued to sink until a slight recovery about an hour before the close. Today’s market did appear to bounce off the June lows, and that was very positive. I decided that staying in cash and watching the market open on Monday would be much more prudent.
My advice is to stay on the sidelines until we witness a clear bounce from the June lows. Don’t jump too soon; markets often test previous lows at least once before beginning a recovery.
Testing the June Lows
- Written by Dr. Duke
This was a seriously negative week for the markets. The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) closed at 3873, down 28 points or -0.7%. SPX opened the week at 4084, so this close represented a decline of 5.2% for the week. Trading volume spiked higher Friday to 4.4 billion shares, double the 50-day moving average (dma) at 2.2 billion shares. The last time trading volume spiked this high was during the lows in mid-June. Is that level around 3640 the next stop?
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, opened the week at 23.6% and closed yesterday at 26.3%. Given Friday’s market decline, I am a bit surprised VIX has not moved higher. Perhaps the large institutional players are already hedged.
The NASDAQ Composite index posted the largest decline of all of the major stock market indices this week, closing Friday at 11,448 , down 104 points or 0.9% on the day and down 6.0% for the week. NASDAQ’s trading volume also spiked Friday, hitting 7.5 billion shares as compared to the 50 dma at 4.7 billion shares.
The decline started by Powell’s Jackson Hole speech on 8/26 continued this week. The S&P 500 broke support at 3925; the next weak support level is at the May low of 3812. Then we are looking at another weak support level at 3727 before we test the June lows around 3640.
The next FOMC meeting is scheduled for next week with the rate announcement on 9/21. The consensus expectation of market analysts is for a third 75 basis point rate hike. How will the market respond? Is the expected rate hike priced into the current market prices or will the market continue to track downward toward the June lows?
Friday’s market decline of the order of five to six percent was accompanied by a trading volume spike. All of the price volatility up and down over the past couple of months occurred at average or below average trading volume. I doubt that Friday was the classic capitulation volume surge marking a market low, simply because the major market event everyone is talking about remains three days in the future.
My counsel is unchanged from last week. Stay on the sidelines until after the September FOMC announcement. Even then, don’t jump too soon; allow the market to digest the news. We could break that June low…
- Written by Dr. Duke
The Standard and Poors 500 index (SPX) finally found support and began to trade higher this week, closing Friday at 4,067, up 61 points or 1.5% on the day, and up 3.5% for the shortened holiday week. Trading volume continues to run along the 50-day moving average (dma) and closed below average on Friday.
VIX, the volatility index for the S&P 500 options, declined 11% this week, opening the week at 25.5% and closing Friday at 22.8%. In spite of this week’s decline in volatility based on three positive trading sessions, we will have to continue this bullish run much farther before returning to the 19% volatility levels of mid-August before this latest decline began.
I track the Russell 2000 index with the IWM ETF. As one might expect, IWM outpaced the blue chips this week. IWM closed Friday at 187.40, up 2% on the day and up 3.7% for the week.
The NASDAQ Composite index fell between the S&P 500 stocks and the Russell 2000 stocks this week, closing Friday at 12,112, up 250 points or 2.1% on the day and also up 4.0% for the week. However, NASDAQ’s trading volume remained below the 50 dma all week.
Powell’s comments at Jackson Hole on 8/26 started the decline that finally found support this week. However, three data points do not make a trend. Remain cautious.
The S&P 500, NASDAQ, and the Russell 2000 all posted very similar chart patterns this week, trading down after the holiday weekend, but then consistently higher each of the remaining three days of the week. Now the market waits for the next FOMC meeting on September 20-21. The consensus appears to be settling at a third 75 basis point rate hike and the market appears comfortable with that prospect. Personally, I don’t understand the apparent change in perception for a lower probability of a “hard landing” for the economy. The seemingly unending debt spiral of our government will have unpleasant consequences and both political parties are on board this train. Remember Greece? We are currently at those levels of debt to GDP.
I continue to think it wise to limit your exposure to this market until after the September FOMC meeting. I have had success with short term earnings trades on GME and DOCU and opened the AAPL iron condor for newsletter subscribers. I also opened an OTM Jan 2023 call butterfly on LNG to play the increasing price of natural gas. However, I remain largely in cash.