Friday, June 4, 2010

First of the Month Indicator Gives Bear Market Signal

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

It was a horrendous day in the markets on Friday June 4th. Trouble began when the euro broke support and selling then spread from Europe to North America. A disappointing U.S. jobs report added to the downward pressure and stocks sank. The small cap Russell 2000 had a mini-crash. The first four trading days of the month were down for the second month in a row, indicating we have established a bear market trading pattern.

Problems began in Europe with rumors of a possible default of a major French bank. Another European country, Hungary, indicated its finances were in trouble. The euro (FXE) fell below the key 1.20 level and traded as low as 1.1919 taken out the 1.1920 low in March 2006. Adding to the woes in Europe was the May employment report that came in well below expectations. Almost all the jobs added were from Census hiring and those jobs will disappear almost as quickly as they appeared. U.S. markets gapped down on the open.

Selling in U.S. stocks was almost continuous throughout the day. By the close, the Dow was down 323 points or 3.2%. The S&P 500 dropped 38 points or 3.4%. Nasdaq was worse still, losing 84 points of 3.6%. The Russell 2000 though gave up 33 points or 5.0%. The rule of thumb is a 5.0% drop in one day is a mini-crash. The Dow closed at 9932, which is the second recent close below the key 10,000 level. This one took place on Friday, so it appears as a loss of technical strength on the weakly charts, a more serious problem than if it had occurred just on the daily charts as was previously the case.

Even worse was that all four major indices were down for the first four trading days of the month. This is a typical bear market pattern. It does occasionally happen in bull market rallies though, so to be significant there needs to be two months in a row with a loss in the first four trading days. May also saw just such a loss, so the two down months in a row have now taken place. A bear market doesn't mean the market isn't going to go up again. Bear markets are known for their sharp and sudden short covering rallies. Traditionally, it means that traders should switch to shorting the rallies instead of buying the dips. Adept short-term traders can of course play the market both ways.

Classic market watchers will not consider stocks to be in a bear market until they've lost 20% of their value. Investors of course should never accept that type of loss. By the time that confirmation takes place; a lot of money is already gone from your brokerage account. So far, the Dow is down 11.5%, the S&P 500 12.5%, the Nasdaq 12.3% and the Russell 2000 15.0% from their respective peaks. Market observers agree that this is a correction because all the indices are down more than 10%.  Informing investors of how much they've lost after the fact is not particularly helpful. The idea is to avoid these events before they take place. If you check, you will see I published a number of articles warning of the sell off before it started.

Disclosure: No positions

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.

1 comment:

thinkingoutloud said...


You've been correctly calling the market every since I started following your blog.

Well done. I'm from Arizona and not able to attend NY investment group but do review the presentation materials.

Awesome job on telling the truth and accurate view of the market.

I wished I had an investment advisor like you in AZ.