Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Peaks, Valleys and Trading Ranges: Stocks Stuck In Trader's Paradise

Another day, another volatile session with a 216-point trading range on the Dow has investors concerned, but traders - those commission-or-volume-based entities that make markets - ebullient.

The range of trade on the day was nothing of concern to anybody, since the levels are far from the extremes. Those extremes on the Dow, since February 8 include a February 26 high of 25,709 and a March 23 low of 23,533 and are dignified on charts as significant peaks and valleys. With the Dow closing somewhere betwixt and between is indicative of a market that simply cannot make up its own mind, since there are roughly equal parts sellers and buyers, but barely any conviction on either side.

Stocks will continue to trade in this 2100-point range until there is some decisive catalyst to lead them either higher or lower. Presently, there is nothing to encourage the bulls nor the bears that a breakout or breakdown is about to occur. What happens during these volatile but rangebound periods are fairly discernable patterns of behavior, most notably stocks bouncing higher off the 200-day moving averages of the various major indices, or correcting lower off the 50-day moving averages.

Stocks being tied to computers and the computers run by algorithms, programmatic trading is ensured.

There isn't much to be said or inferred from this sideways pattern, except that the range continues to be on the low side, with all-time highs from January 26 (26,616.71) becoming a smaller and smaller object in the rear view mirror of the stock market race car.

Nothing is likely to change this pattern until either the peak or valley is breached, though the odds are good that the valley breach will be the eventual winner, leading to a more vicious, faster-paced downturn.

That's not to say that the Dow could not add significantly from its current level. It's a distinct possibility, but one that would probably fail as the index approaches that February 26 peak.

Throw away all the fundamentals, dismiss all the geopolitical news, ignore all data and just focus on the chart. Sometimes - and now is one of those times - it is really that simple.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17

At the Close, Monday, May 7, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,357.32, +94.81 (+0.39%)
NASDAQ: 7,265.21, +55.60 (+0.77%)
S&P 500: 2,672.63, +9.21 (+0.35%)
NYSE Composite: 12,519.75, +26.40 (+0.21%)

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