Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Market Getting Frothy; Meeting tonight for New York Investing

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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The stock market indices were all up over 2% yesterday. Nasdaq crossed its 200-day moving average and closed 13 points above it. We are now at the point where many stocks have had substantial rallies and are moving up sharply. Watch out when this happens! While the average person wants to buy when this occurs, unless you are a short-term trader, selling is the more appropriate reaction. Stocks that are floating 20% or more above their 10-day moving averages should be considered particularly worrisome if the stock has been in rally mode for some time (if it is moving sideways in a base that's another story).

A good general rule of thumb is to sell at least half of your position when you have 100% profits. That way you can't lose. If the stock is also around an important resistance point and the technicals are at overbought levels, you probably wish to sell all of it. Sometimes for severely oversold stocks, especially low-priced ones, the stock can move up 100% and still be in a base and in this case you should NOT be selling (DXO and HWD would be examples of this). The sell rule is only valid for a stock that has been rallying. A lot of money is lost in the market because profits are not taken. Many sell offs take place gradually, so any given trading day doesn't raise an alarm bell. Taking profits is tricky and there is a tendency to sell much too early or much too late. However, don't aim for perfection - this leads to trouble. Your goal should not be to make the maximum amount of profit possible, but a reasonable amount. What is reasonable depends on your time frame. A couple of percent is good for a day trader, but meaningless for Warren Buffett.

An important part of the art of selling is to have a good idea of overall market conditions. We are still in a rally. Currently, there are reasons to think this rally will continue into June. After that, the probabilities are likely to turn against the market. When the market turns down, most stocks will go with it. Oil might last a little longer because of its seasonal trading pattern. There are a few things, like natural gas (UNG), that are still bottoming and haven't rallied yet at all. Gold (GLD) and silver (SLV) frequently trade counter to the market and should be rallying while most stocks are selling off. There are always opportunities in the market.

Tonight, May 5th, is the monthly meeting of the New York Investing meetup. I will be interviewing William Cohan about his latest best seller, "House of Cards". Cohan will be signing his book after the interview. There will also be a talk on the state of the market. The meeting starts at 6:45PM and will be held at PS 41, 116 West 11th Street.

NEXT: NYIM May 5th Meeting; Oil Report; Swine Flu Update

Daryl 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.

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