Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's the Trend?

I'm calling  today's market trend as bullish, but to tell the truth, that's a stretch. I could just as easily call it bearish.

I'll take the bull case first. The S&P 500 has hip-hopped up a trend line beginning from the Oct. 4 low of 1074.77, touching down on Nov. 28 and coming close to a second touchdown on Dec. 19. That's an uptrend, a series of higher lows.

However, the top of the range is far more ambiguous, with a high of 1292.66 on Oct. 27, and a second peak on Jan. 3 of 1284.62. So that's two lower highs, although just barely. The pattern can best be seen, I think, as a somewhat malformed ascending triangle, which is a bullish formation.

Now to the bearish case. The index topped at 1370.58 on May 2, culminating a rise from the March 2, 2009 low of 666.79 (known as the Support Level of the Beast).

Since then, the index has hit a series of lower highs, on Jul 7, July 21, Oct. 27 and most recently Jan. 3. That's bearish.

Moving to the trading tools, which I tend not to use, the 10-day moving average is above the 40-day, which is near-term bullish, but the 50-day moving average is below the 200-day, which is bearish. 

So, that suggests bullish for a month's time horizon but bearish for a year, with the understanding of course that moving averages are intensely backward looking and may have nothing at all to do with today's facts on the ground.

Today's candle on the daily chart is showing a dragonfly doji wannabe, shaped like a T but the top crossbar is too fat. That candlestick pattern signals buying pressure, because the decline reversed, but insufficient buying pressure, because the price has barely budged from the open. 

So it can sometimes signal a top, coming as it does after a price rise. But it is considered to be a weak signal. (Of course, the day still has hours to go before the close, so that pattern could change dramatically.)

Finally, I wrote in a recent essay that flipping a coin is a perfectly rational way of determining a market opinion, as long as I don't trade solely based on the toss.

The coin came up tails, which is bearish.

(Insert heartfelt sigh here.)

Life is so ambiguous.

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