I’ve written before that when all else fails, when there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the daily movement in stock prices, even the most fundamentals-oriented portfolio manager closes his door and starts to look at charts.
At one time, technical analysis was a respectable occupation–no door-closing needed. But that was in the first quarter of the last century, before the Federal government began to force publicly traded companies to present meaningful financial statements. It’s also before Washington clamped down on manipulative behavior by large investing syndicates and on trading on inside information, types of activity that studies of trading volume and daily price movements were designed to detect.
However, when stock prices are being driven by greed, or in the present case, by fear, it may make sense, even in today’s data-filled world, to take a look at index points where investors have been willing to buy and sell in the recent past.
Three S&P 500 levels stand out to me. They are:
–1867, which is the intraday market low of August 24, 2015
–1871, which is the intraday low the market returned to on September 28, before starting to rise again, and
–1904, which represents a 10% decline from the latest intraday high of the S&P 500 on last November 3 (the close that day was 2109–a 10% decline from the close would be 1898).
The S&P 500 fell sharply to 1878 in early trading yesterday, before reversing itself and closing at 1921.
The market closed at 1890, two days ago, which is more than 10% below both the high and the close of last November 3rd.
In technical terms, then, we’re at an important juncture. We’ve fallen by 10% from the highs and are flirting with an important low around 1870. As I’m writing this, futures are indicating an open for the S&P around 1880. This in itself could be a source of traders’ anxiety.
If the market can stabilize at current levels, it’s possible that fear will gradually ebb away. If not, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and figure out where next level of potential market support may be. 1815?
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