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In an uptrend but with some underlying weakness

Quite often we can find clues on market psychology by analysing the S&P 500 sectors’ performance in relation to the main index itself. If a safe haven sector such as utilities is gaining ground and the financial sector is lagging well behind, we then have a hint of market participants becoming more risk averse. This is based on the fact that the long only funds cannot but stay in stocks whatever the market circumstances. Therefore, if they are worried about market prospects over the coming weeks or months their only option is to move away from higher volatility and growth stocks into less volatile dividend plays such as utility stocks. Without this manoeuvre they would take a risk of taking a hit that is likely to going to be bigger than the potential down move in the index. This of course will cause the utility stocks to move higher while stocks in riskier sectors decline in relation to S&P 500 index.

Over the last month the undisputed market leader has been the industrial sector. Financials that usually lead the market when the move is strong have had a close to average performance with the technology and utilities sectors and only slightly better than the performance of the S&P 500. This is not a strong signal to either direction. If we focus on the last six trading days, the picture is slightly different. Now we have the utility stocks over performing both the S&P 500 and financials and the technology. Utility sector has (in relation to the S&P 500) gained +0.34% while the financial sector is down by -0.28% and technology by -0.71%. Therefore, we have a notion of bearishness in the way the professionals have been allocating their assets over the last few days.

ES Weekly


The E-mini S&P 500 futures (ES) charts are showing some signs of momentum slow down. Last week’s bar had quite a narrow range compared to the previous week. If this is repeated and we have another sluggish week with a narrow range, the likelihood of the market correcting lower from the newly made highs increases. We will not obviously know this before we have seen what happens over the rest of the week and therefore should not jump to conclusions about the longer term trend.

But what is the longer term trend and how well it is doing? At the moment the trend is still higher, but in the previous US stock market analysis I wrote at the end of October, I suggested that we might have a sideways market ahead as the market made a lower weekly low for the first time since the 2011 topping formation (that lead to a sizeable correction in the fall of 2011). In addition, the more risky small and medium capitalisation stock index, Russell 2000, has been underperforming the major indices since March this year. At the time of writing, Russell 2000, alongside the more volatile German DAX , has not been able to move with the major indices (Dow Jones and S&P 500) into new highs. I should also point out that the number of stocks rising versus the number of stocks falling in the New York Stock Exchange has been getting smaller since October 22nd. These are all signs of underlying weakness in the current up move.

Now that ES has made a new high I have to obviously re-evaluate my analysis and ask the question whether my view of potential sideways move is still relevant. An uptrend is defined as a series of higher highs and higher lows, which means that by this definition the market is still moving higher in a trend. The existence of the aforementioned underlying weaknesses however means that we need to pay attention to how the market behaves (in intraday timeframes) at key levels. This in turn will define the outcome on the weekly level.

ES 240

240 min.

Judging from a daily ES chart one of these key levels is an area between the September 19th high and November 3rd high (2014.50 – 2019.25). Please note that these point values refer to E-mini S&P futures contract and the point values in other indices tracking S&P 500 index may have a slight variation to it. I have however included the dates so that it is convenient and easy for you to verify the levels from your own charting platform. This key area almost coincides with the rising trend line (currently above the levels). I believe that the level should attract buyers that want to trade against the recent high (previous resistance = current support). In addition to the support from September high and trend line, the 50 period simple moving average (SMA) coincides with the same level. This is an additional reason to believe that a significant number of traders will view this area as important. If price moves to this level, I suggest looking for momentum reversal confirmations such as hammer candles in order to enter into long trades. However, for the price to reach these levels it needs first to move below a Fibonacci extension cluster (black lines) that currently supports the price. As can be seen from the chart, this cluster is actually pretty much spot on at the same level as the rising trend line.


Weekly momentum appears to be fading but this week’s close defines the picture for the coming weeks. The weekly close obviously has greater indication value of what is happening with the momentum than the midweek price action we are now witnessing. There is underlying weakness which suggests that the price will correct to levels close to the September high, which could provide us with opportunities on the long side. We would need to see a sizeable rally (into new highs) from that level to change the weekly picture in terms of the momentum fade (that I have been writing about) otherwise we will have another narrow range or potentially even downward candle. That would indicate more bearish market conditions and a possibly a correction below the September 19th high. If the price reaches the ES 2014.50 – 2019.25 area, look for hammer candles and other signs of reversal of downside momentum in the 60 min. timeframe. After these signals we should see a fast move higher to confirm the idea. In case the price starts to move sideways and does not have a healthy and fast reaction from the level, it is likely that it has to find lower levels to bounce from.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication contains, or should be considered as containing, an investment advice or an investment recommendation or a solicitation for the purpose of purchase or sale of any financial instrument.

Janne Muta
Chief Market Analyst

Wednesday, 12 Nov, 2014 / 1:45

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