Equities : Sentiment Speaks - Either You Learn From The Events Of The Past Week, Or You Are Hopeless

09/18/2017 | 02:57pm

Back in mid-July, we called for the market to top within 3 weeks between 2487-2500. And, 3 weeks later, the market topped at 2490SPX within one day of the topping date we expected. And, since we struck that high, the market has followed through in an almost textbook fashion for the entire month of August, as we caught just about every twist and turn during the month.

Coming into the last week of August, we were expecting the market to drop down to support within the 2425-2430SPX region, and then rally back towards the 2465-2475 region, before it set up to drop back down to the 2400SPX region. As we now know, dropped hard and bottomed early that week at 2428SPX, and then rallied back to 2480SPX. When the market topped out at 2480 on September 1st, our expectation was that we would see a drop down to the 2400SPX region next.

While the market dropped 34 points from that level within the next trading day, when it came back up through 2460SPX I posted to all our members that we now have opened the door to the 2500-2510SPX region, rather than an immediate continuation down to the 2400SPX region. The main reason was that when the market did not follow through on our Fibonacci Pinball set up towards 2400SPX and came back up through the 2460SPX region, the market provided us with a strong warning that the downside follow through was much less likely. As of Friday, we have finally struck the 2500SPX region.

As I write my weekly articles about how one should ignore exogenous factors such as news or geo-political events when analyzing the markets, I always get a number of people who will argue with me. They see a single news event coincide with a directional move in the market and are absolutely convinced that the particular news event was the “obvious” cause of that market move. They then extrapolate this experience and believe that news and geo-politics are always what drives the markets.

Yet, I remain steadfast in my belief that maintaining such expectations is intellectually dishonest, as it requires you to ignore the many times that markets do not act in the manner most would believe based upon the news or geo-political events.

When the market was whipsawing around in August, and we were catching most of the turns, many of these commenters would proclaim:

“in this instance there is no doubt the driver here is Korea”
“Korea matters”

These people, who believe the market is driven by exogenous factors, have a real problem today.

If you were paying attention over the last two weeks since the market broke back over 2460SPX, we have had two of the worst weather events in recent times, which have caused damage estimating over $200 billion dollars. To put the true extent of this damage into perspective, this is reportedly about half of the combined costs of all hurricanes over the past 50 years, including Katrina ($133 billion), Sandy ($75 billion) and Andrew ($46 billion).

Moreover, during the past two weeks, we have faced further terrorist attacks along with further provocation by North Korea. Yes, the same North Korea that is “no doubt the driver” of the market.

To be more specific, not only did the hours between the Thursday evening market close and Friday morning market open see another North Korean rocket fire over Japan, we also witnessed yet another terrorist attack in London.

For those counting, that is two major negative geo-political events occurring while the market was closed before its Friday morning open. And, anyone that was so certain that “there is no doubt the driver here is Korea” was likely looking for a major red opening on Friday morning, especially when you couple it with the terrorist attack occurring before the open too.

Yet, what did the market do after it opened on Friday morning? You got it! We rallied to hit new all-time highs, and finally eclipsed the 2500SPX mark.

Again, those that believe in exogenous causation for market moves must be stumped. How can this be possible? Surely, the market must be manipulated, right? I mean, this really can’t happen in real life!?

So, allow me to remind you about some studies I like to post every now and then:

In a 1988 study conducted by Cutler, Poterba, and Summers entitled “What Moves Stock Prices,” they reviewed stock market price action after major economic or other type of news (including major political events) in order to develop a model through which one would be able to predict market moves RETROSPECTIVELY. Yes, you heard me right. They were not even at the stage yet of developing a prospective prediction model.

However, the study concluded that “[m]acroeconomic news . . . explains only about one fifth of the movements in stock market prices.” In fact, they even noted that “many of the largest market movements in recent years have occurred on days when there were no major news events.” They also concluded that “[t]here is surprisingly small effect [from] big news [of] political developments . . . and international events.” They also suggest that:

“The relatively small market responses to such news, along with evidence that large market moves often occur on days without any identifiable major news releases casts doubt on the view that stock price movements are fully explicable by news. . . “

In August 1998, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article by Tom Walker, who conducted his own study of 42 years’ worth of “surprise” news events and the stock market’s corresponding reactions. His conclusion, which will be surprising to most, was that it was exceptionally difficult to identify a connection between market trading and dramatic surprise news. Based upon Walker's study and conclusions, even if you had the news beforehand, you would still not be able to determine the direction of the market only based upon such news.

In 2008, another study was conducted, in which they reviewed more than 90,000 news items relevant to hundreds of stocks over a two-year period. They concluded that large movements in the stocks were NOT linked to any news items:

“Most such jumps weren’t directly associated with any news at all, and most news items didn’t cause any jumps.”

But, I can assure you that the great majority will simply shrug this off for whatever reason they want to believe. They will don their blinders, and simply ignore the actions over the last few weeks, since it does not fit their overall perspective about markets. In other words, they will continue to fool themselves. After all, Ben Franklin put it quite well when he noted:

“So convenient a thing is it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or to make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”

If these past few weeks were not enough to convince you that exogenous factors to not drive the market, about a month ago, I provided you with a list of all the “reasons” most market participants have been expecting the stock market to crash:

Brexit – NOPE
Frexit – NOPE
Grexit - NOPE
Italian referendum - NOPE
Rise in interest rates - NOPE
Cessation of QE - NOPE
Terrorist attacks - NOPE
Crimea – NOPE
Trump – NOPE
Market not trading on fundamentals – NOPE
Low volatility – NOPE
Record high margin debt – NOPE
Hindenburg omens - NOPE
Syrian missile attack - NOPE
North Korea – NOPE

Yet, the market has clearly had other ideas. As you can see, none of these reasons have mattered, as the market has simply melted up towards our longer-term target of 2500SPX, which we pointed towards several years ago, despite much disbelief.

So, either you learn the lessons clearly taught by Mr. Market over the last several years, or, continue donning those blinders while muttering to yourself “it just can’t be.”

I believe the coming week will present the market with an important short-term test. If the 2507/10SPX region holds as resistance, and we turn down to break 2480SPX, I believe we will drop to retest the 2400SPX region again. And, this is my preference at this point in time. However, if we are unable to turn down at 2507/10SPX, or if we are unable to strongly break below 2480SPX, then the market is sending us a message that it wants to head to at least the 2545SPX region, and potentially even a bit higher before wave (3) completes.

See charts illustrating the wave counts on the S&P 500.

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