For Traders, Time To Decide

Daily State of the Markets  
Monday Morning – March 14, 2011

Good morning. Despite the overtly negative news backdrop of the last few weeks, the dip buyers have been fairly resolute in their plans to buy each and every decline in the stock market. However, given the horrific scenes from Japan, which was hit first by the largest earthquake in 140 years, then a massive tsunami, and is now dealing with the possibility of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns, it would appear that it’s decision time for the bulls.

No one would really blame those in the glass-is-half-full camp if they decided to take a wait-and-see approach to this market. After all, the questions relating to the impact from the Libyan uprising, rising oil prices, European debt, a potential slowdown in China, and now the unknowns relating to Japan are many at this stage of the game. And with the indices perched on the edge of very important support zones, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the bears take control for a while.

The chart-watching crowd apparently has some support for prices heading lower in the near-term. According to Bespoke Investment Group, when the indices have spent more than 100 days above their 50-day moving averages and then dipped below them, the market has tended to move lower. Going back to 1971, Bespoke found that the NASDAQ proceeded to lose an average of -5.6% over the next month and then -4.7% over the next three months. The S&P appears to fare a little better in this scenario, having lost just -1.9% a month after slipping below its 50-day and -2.1% over the next six months. So, although the S&P did manage to poke its head back above the apparently all-important line in the sand, history suggests that the bulls may decide to take a break in here somewhere.

On the oil front, it’s also decision time for traders. While the supply of crude has been interrupted from Libya, it appears that Saudi Arabia and the rest of OPEC can easily pick up the slack. Then when you mix in the slowdown fears in China, the earthquake in Japan, the talk of speculators being responsible for a big chunk of crude’s rude rise, the nearly universal expectations of the talking heads for oil to only move higher, and the almost instantaneous reaction of the U.S. consumer to the situation in MENA, one has to wonder if perhaps oil might be headed lower in the near-term. That is unless the organisers of the “Day of Rage” can make a better showing next time in places like Saudi Arabia.

Unless the bulls can manage to return their focus to the big-picture – and right quick – the individual investor may also be faced with a decision. As you’ve no doubt heard, the public has apparently decided that after a 95% gain in the stock market, it’s time to jump back in the pool. Recent data from Investment Company Institute, which is the official scorekeeper of funds flows, shows that investors have moved $33 billion back into mutual funds since January 1st of this year. According to ICI, this replaces the $31 billion investors had pulled out of equity funds between March 2009 and the end of last year. Thus, given the shellacking the public has taken in funds over the last decade, it may not take long for John Q. Public to reverse his decision to get back into the game if prices start falling again.

Turning to this morning… With a second explosion at the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan and the likelihood of an all-out meltdown rising, traders are a little tense this morning. Even the Eurozone’s decision to increase the level of the EFSF bailout program, which is helping debt spreads in peripheral European countries, has not been enough to get the bulls back into buying mode in the early going. However, with oil now under $100 again, it will be interesting to see if the buyers will return as the day progresses.

On the Economic front… We do not have any economic data scheduled for release today. However, the flow of data will pick up later in the week.

Thought for the day: Remember that there is more to life than increasing its pace…

¬†Here are the Pre-Market indicators we review each morning before the opening bell…

  • Major Foreign Markets: Australia: -0.52% Shanghai: +0.17% Hong Kong: +0.41% Japan: -6.18% France: -0.70% Germany: -1.21% London: -0.31%
  • Australia: -0.52%
  • Shanghai: +0.17%
  • Hong Kong: +0.41%
  • Japan: -6.18%
  • France: -0.70%
  • Germany: -1.21%
  • London: -0.31%
  • Crude Oil Futures: -$1.55 to $99.61
  • Gold: +$5.00 to $1426.80
  • Dollar: lower against the Yen and Pound, higher vs. Euro
  • 10-Year Bond Yield: Currently trading at 3.378%
  • Stocks Futures Ahead of Open in U.S. (relative to fair value): S&P 500: -7.38 Dow Jones Industrial Average: -54 NASDAQ Composite: -13.8
  • S&P 500: -7.38
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: -54
  • NASDAQ Composite: -13.8

Wall Street Research Summary


  • Cerner (CERN) – Auriga
  • Sprint Nextel (S) – Bernstein
  • JDS Uniphase (JDSU) – Citi
  • Apple (AAPL) – Mentioned positively at Deutsche Bank
  • Parker-Hannifin (PH) – Deutsche Bank
  • Capital One (COF) – Evercore Partners
  • Discover Financial (DFS) – Evercore Partners
  • Noble Corp (NE) – JPMorgan
  • Nuance Communications (NUAN) – Mentioned positively at Oppenheimer
  • National Semiconductor (NSM) – Susquehanna
  • Texas Instruments (TXN) – Susquehanna
  • Ann Taylor (ANN) – Estimates and target increased at UBS


  • Entergy (ETR) – BofA/Merrill
  • SCANA Corp (SCG) – BofA/Merrill
  • Noble Corp (NE) – FBR Capital
  • Pall Corp (PLL) – Jefferies
  • Las Vegas Sands (LVS) – Jefferies
  • New York Times (NYT) – Estimates reduced at UBS

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The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are those of Mr. David Moenning and may not actually come to pass. Mr. Moenning’s opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations. The analysis and information in this report and on our website is for informational purposes only. No part of the material presented in this report or on our websites is intended as an investment recommendation or investmentadvice. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed nor any Portfolio constitutes a solicitation to purchase or sell securities or any investment program. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the editors of TopStockPortfolios and may not actually come to pass. The opinions and viewpoints regarding the future of the markets should not be construed as recommendations of any specific security nor specific investment advice. Stocks should always consult an investment professional before making any investment.

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