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Santa Said Risk On (But for How Long?)

It’s been a fantastic rally for stocks over the past couple months as Santa Claus was coming to town. Now is where things get interesting.

As discussed, last week was really the last full ‘trading’ week of the year. With the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays happening mid-week you can count on lower trading volume for the rest of the year. And more than likely, the participation will be light (don’t want to mess up those bonuses for portfolio managers).

To top it off, news on the ‘trade war’ is positive this morning as China says they’ll reduce or eliminate tariffs on a number of goods in the new year in anticipation of an inked trade deal in the near future.

This news has been greeted with optimism in the futures markets as the major indexes appear poised to push to even higher all-time highs. What a (calendar) year for the stock markets! (I’m sure we’ll get a pile of statistics to chew on in the coming days and weeks – best market since 2013, etc etc).

But before you pop the cork and celebrate, a word of foreshadowing: on the technical front, this market is way over-bought (at least by metrics we typically track). And on top of that, the multiple on earnings has crept up pretty high.

Fortunately, word on the street is still pretty skeptical. But we’re seeing Wall Street pundits raising estimates and there is a lot of chatter from the retail investor about how great things are (even if they’re still nervous about the economy going into an election year).

It’s precisely these times one should be careful about getting sucked into emotional euphoria land.

Warren Buffet famously said you should be fearful when people are greedy, and greedy when people are fearful.

Well, this is a tricky spot. The major indexes have had huge moves in 2019. The temptation to chase performance and pile into big winners is like a Siren’s call for many. And the technical set-up is concerning as we’ve seen this market not only gap higher late last week, but it’s poised to do so again at today’s open.

We’re at two standard deviations above the 21-day trading average for the SPX. Based on the futures markets, we’ll go even higher that that this morning.

It’s no guarantee that the markets pull-back from here just because we’re over-bought… or in a shortened trading week… or because we’ve had likely two price-gaps higher in the last two trading days… or because we’ve had huge calendar-year profits for the year… or because traders want to start positioning for Q1-2020… or a host of other reasons…

But you get the idea… markets have a lot of reasons they could pull-back from here. If they don’t, it may be time to start revisiting Warren Buffet’s old saying again. Because if there’s no fear in this market, maybe there should be.

Then again, for you BigFoot users, this is exactly why we have a process instead of just using our gut. Sure, there are no guarantees in the world. But having a systematic approach to analysis and following a set of rules and rationales leads to more consistent behavior. That means fewer variables, and higher statistical predictability. Or, said another way, it helps reduce the potential for human errors by quarantining some of the emotions that often lead to poor decisions. So tell a friend – or if you’ve stumbled upon this blog for some other reason, give us a ping. We’d love to walk you through the system and show you how to put the power or both artificial intelligence and neural networking to work in your investment process.

Looking pretty over-bought here
There may be further to go, but the air is getting pretty thin up here

As a head’s up, next week’s blog will be pretty minimal. As is the norm for this time of year, I will spend some time pulling together data and doing annual projections for 2020. I will probably do a brief year-in-review snapshot as well. It’s pretty easy though – markets exceeded my expectations because earnings exceeded expectations. It wasn’t a major miss (I had a high for the year at 23% return – we’re currently around 27% on the SPX), but I was surprised to the up-side. Now that I think about it though, should I even say this? Don’t want to jinx things in the last few trading days of the year…

Thanks for continuing the read these musings. I hope you have a wonderful holiday seasons, a Merry Christmas from my household, and a Happy New Year as we step into 2020. May you as blessed as I have been…

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Home Stretch

This is the last full trading week of 2019. It may also be the last big push of the year for the markets to move higher.

If futures markets are any indication, there should be a pop Monday morning. This may create additional momentum for the week, pushing the SPX up over 3200.

Given the unusual holiday schedule (with both Christmas and New Year’s on Wednesday), this may very well be the high-water mark for the year. Still, as far as the calendar YTD performance goes, it’s been a heck of a year already.

There really is no ‘resistance’ on the upside right now. With markets essentially at all-time highs, the question is just how high can things go?

And things may go higher than we thought. With trade war talk softening, some of the pricing expectations may be off. IF — and it’s still if at this point — the trade war is going to soften, earnings expectations could benefit. That could mean this bull has room to run. 2020 may be an interesting year…

As far as support goes, around 3130 for the SPX. If this level is breached there may be some additional downside. Odds are portfolio managers are trying to sew up their bonuses for the year, so it doesn’t seem terribly likely we’ll have the bottom fall out of the market.

So while there is never a ‘known’ future for the markets, the set-up looks pretty good. It would take a major shift in market expectations to really throw a wrench in this thing. Folks seem to be asking how much higher this market goes rather when will the next drop happen. So grab some eggnog and cross your fingers – Santa Claus is coming to town 🙂

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Sleigh Bells

If you ask the markets, Santa Clause is still on the way, and this rally is still in play.

The technical trends are pretty straight-forward: economic data remains in-line with expectations, and Fed policy is unchanged. It’s a recipe for more of the same. And ‘the same’ happens to be a pretty low-volatility climb higher for the major indexes.

While this run has been exceeded initial expectations, the behavior of things looks like this week may continue higher.

Mechanically, we could see the top of 2019 this week. This is because both Christmas and New Year’s fall on Wednesdays. That means this is really the last ‘regular’ trading week of the year. After that, holidays monkey with stuff.

So enjoy for now. Q1-2020 is bringing not only new earnings, but new speculation as we head into an election year during the greatest bull market in a generation.

For the week, look for support around 3117, with resistance around 3179… if there is any resistance. The only reason the market hasn’t pushed higher is because it’s already at all-time highs.

C’mon Santa Claus Rally!

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

How High from Here?

Last week managed to finish at all-time highs for the SPX. The question now is how high can we go?

While there is no pre-defined limit, our original 2019 projections had 3100 as a likely target. Given current momentum, the SPX may exceed this level either this week or next.

The question will then shift to whether or not we can hang on from here.

If history were to repeat itself, we’ll likely see a bit of a pull-back coming once this initial target is met. The fourth quarter can be tricky though, as holiday rallies are tough to anticipate.

Given the shift away from a more traditional “Black Friday” sales event, it’s possible the big move for this market is happening right now. It’s typical for holiday schedules and window dressing to make for a dicey December.

2019 has been a remarkable calendar year in terms of market performance. Of course, it was a sand-bagged number as the fourth quarter of 2018 really tanked. The technical set-up does not have a major meltdown manifesting in the data yet though. So we may finish with a pretty strong calendar year from here.

Below is a chart of the 2019 projection. Note that 3110 was at the top of the expected range. This does not mean the markets cannot get into rally mode and push past this. It only means the markets would be ahead of expectations – and perhaps a bit over-bought at that point.

The pull-back targets are of bigger concern for most professional investors. How far back is an expected pull-back? Key levels from here would be: 3024/3014/3000/2974/2944.

To put these numbers in context, it’s about a four-percent pull-back. That’s not exactly huge given the moves this year. (Although it would definitely take some of the fun out of things.)

The good news is the end-of-year low target is still about 3010. That’s pretty solid support for this trend.

We’ll see if the Santa rally pushes us to even higher all-time highs. For this week, look for those numbers to push higher.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Don’t expect much from a three and a half day trading week. Holiday weeks like this traditionally mean lower trading volume – and often higher volatility. Given the most recent few weeks in the market though, sentiment seems to be shifting. The Q4-Santa Claus Rally is in danger of passing us by. Post-Thanksgiving we’re really only talking about four more weeks of trading for the year when you consider window dressing, capital gains reporting, and the other holidays that will keep people home and away from the trading floor. Given the lack of trading momentum headed into this week, this market may not have much left in the tank.

This week should be a decent tell for the remainder of the year. Watch to see if the markets can find support above 2715. Otherwise, this market may find itself on Santa’s naughty list for the rest of the year.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different
types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance
that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product
(including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by
BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly
in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance
level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due
to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the
content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you
should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the
receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the
extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue
discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the
professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified
public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal
or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement
discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

Retrenchment

Thank you Veterans.

And for the rest of us market jocks, what’s the scoop for the week?  Look for retrenchment above SPX 2750.  In fact, look for 2800 this week as markets seek to find footing.

While the 200-day moving average should form some support, futures trading has been eradic over the weekend.   At first, futures showed a higher open.  But things swung to the downside as Europe opened and oil prices pushed higher.

This kind of pricing behavior is not necessarily predictive of anything other than folks repositioning over the weekend.  And since the range for the repositioning was relatively narrow, it may simply be noise.  Given last week’s strong move higher — after a 10% correction for most indexes — and a ‘nearly’ completed election — it looks like the markets are poised to start reclaiming some of their last ground from October.

One of the growing concerns is in the housing market.  Keep an eye on that in the coming months.  While stocks remain attractive relative to everything else, the housing market slow-down may be a sign that this almost-10-year economic expansion is feeling the affects of higher interest rates more than folks may care to admit.

It may sound funny, because mortgage rates in the 5’s are still historically low.  But, compared to mortgage rates in the 3’s, they’re some 30% higher than they used to be.  For folks that have never known higher borrowing costs in their lives (save credit cards), this could be a legitimate point of contention.

As a housing market aside, it’s going to be very interesting to follow what comes out of the massive forest first in California.  Not only has there been loss of life.  There’s been massive loss of property (which may actually be stimulative for the housing market).  There’s been massive strain on infrastructure.  And it’s called to the forefront some of the questionable Federal forest management policy that’s lead to these massive fires.  (Admittedly, this is something personal for me as the Pacific Northwest experiences fires every summer.  However, with only 4 million or so people in Oregon, there are not enough votes to seem to move the needle much in Washington.  But have this happen in California, and now we have your attention.)  Federal changes in forest management could potentially unlock a lot of value in timber.  If this were to happen, the housing markets would need to be reexamined.

Look for some early volatility this week as markets find their footing.  As long as the SPX stays above 1750 or so a recovery trend is still probable.  A close below this level and we’ll have to reconsider whether the Santa Clause rally is really coming to town.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different
types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance
that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product
(including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by
BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly
in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance
level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due
to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the
content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you
should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the
receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the
extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue
discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the
professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified
public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal
or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement
discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.