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In technical analysis, a symmetrical triangle pattern usually indicates a continuation of a trend. The U.S. market indices look like they are making such a pattern on the charts. Triangles aren't the most reliable of chart patterns however and a break on both to the upside and downside is possible. If a downside break occurs, and this has not happened yet, then look for a test of the intraday lows of of around 7850 on the Dow, 840 on the S&P 500 and 1542 on Nasdaq. If successful, this could put in a double bottom and make a rally possible. A break of these levels would indicate a test of the 2002 lows on the Dow and S&P, at 7200 and 775, would likely take place.
While Monday was a good rally day in the U.S. markets, the action took place on below average volume indicating a lack of conviction in the buying. On Tuesday, the Dow was up an hour before the close and then experienced approximately a 250 point drop to end down 232 or 2.5% (It's volatility like this that is preventing the the market from getting anywhere on the upside). The Nasdaq was the hardest hit of all the indices because of bad tech earnings. It dropped 73 points or 4.1% to close below 1700 at 1696. The selling continued overnight in Asia, with Japan, Hong Kong and Korea experiencing another crash day. The Nikkei was down 6.8% or 632 points, but was still well above its 2003 low. Financials bore the brunt of the selling in Japan. The Hang Seng and KOSPI were down 5.2% and 5.1% respectively. Oil fell below $70 a barrel in Asian trading.
Things were a little better in European trading this morning, but not much. The 3 major indices, the FTSE, DAX and CAC-40 managed to hold their losses at the 4% level, just below the criteria for a crash. In a surprise move, Hungary raised interest rates 3% to protect the collapsing Forint. Surprisingly, despite all the global negativity, U.S. stock futures were up early on in pre-market trade. Wachovia's announcement of a $24 billion quarterly loss, the biggest for any U.S. financial company ever, seemed to have turned sentiment highly negative.
By a number of technical criteria, the U.S. markets should have bottomed by now. There has of course been a short-term rally, but the market is having trouble holding it. Not that the monetary and fiscal authorities haven't been trying to assist it, with one new program after another - and you can expect another 50 basis point rate cut from the Fed next week as well, with Fed funds returning to the 1.0% rate that caused the credit crisis in the first place. Right now bad earnings and negative outlooks are causing stocks to sell off. None of the major problems with the financial system have been permanently solved however. Expect them to continue showing up again and again, just when you least expect it.
NEXT: The House of Cards EconomyDaryl Montgomery
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.