Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Beginning of a Bear Market

Today was yet another example of the wickedness of having computer algorithms doing what humans used to do. The momentum play was on the upside after German court ruled that Germany's participation in the bailout of Greece and other cash-strapped European nations was constitutional, meaning, for the investing class, that the party of low interest rates, cheap money and free spending without responsibility would continue on the continent without interruption from annoying laws or moral hazard.

The rest of the day-long rally in equities was the work of machines, following the momentum flow of the day.

But what do these sharp rallies really mean? Are they signs of health in US equity markets and the global economy or are they false flag events designed only to be sold off minutes, hours or days later as a bear market commences?

The answer to those questions probably lies somewhere in the recent charts of the major indices, which all show the same pattern of a sharp drop-off at the end of July, followed by a series of volatile rallies and sell-offs, leaving the indices well below their 50 and 200-day moving averages (which have all already crossed over). The high bar for markets is to get back to those July levels, which seem like distant specs on the horizon from where the market now resides.

These high water marks are roughly 12750 for the Dow, 2875 for the NASDAQ, 1350 for the S&P and 8490 for the NYSE Composite. Just take a look below to see just how far stocks would have to rally to regain those levels and your thinking about whether or not this is a good time to invest in stocks might be changed radically because if they don't get there, technicians will call this environment a sustained correction - that is until the indices fall to 20% below their highs made back at the end of April, which would then confirm a bear market.

European indices are already in bear market territory, and the sharp rallies over there are nothing more than short-covering or knee-jerk rallies that belie the true nature of the environment, which has most of Europe falling into recession in the next quarter. If Europe goes, the US will not be far behind, and some say we're already there.

So, what will it be in the coming months? Recession and a bear market (and one which could be particularly brutal) or a sustained recovery, upon which the middle class of America has been waiting nearly three years? Choose wisely.

Bear in mind that today's rally, like so many before it, was punctuated by embarrassingly low volume.

Dow 11,414.86, +275.56 (2.47%)
NASDAQ 2,548.94, +75.11 (3.04%)
S&P 500 1,198.62, +33.38 (2.86%)
NYSE Composite 7,355.17, +207.04 (2.90%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,755,357,500
NYSE Volume 4,312,856,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5655-944
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 35-46
WTI crude oil futures: 89.33, +3.31
Gold: 1817.00, -56.60
Silver: 41.64, -0.32

Idea: Buy Gold and Silver on eBay

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you know how gold and silver have outperformed stocks and bonds and just about all other asset classes (maybe all of them), but if you are reluctant to purchase some for your own portfolio, you might take a look at eBay's offerings and do a little bit of research into why gold and silver will continue to rise as fiat currencies devalue.

One fine site n which to do some research about pre-1965 silver coins is, which offers a nice selection of metals-related news and some great charts and tools to determine present and future value of mostly 90% silver coins, which just happened to be the standard way back when the US was a net exporter and a strong, growing nation.

After 1964, coinage was dramatically changed, with the percentage of silver in dimes, quarters, halves and silver dollars substantially reduced. Once you check out the values, head over to ebay and buy a few Morgans or Walking Liberties or Washington Quarters. Prices are fair and right around spot, including shipping and the sellers are 99.99% honest and fair dealers.

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