Ian Woodward's Investing Blog

Archive for August, 2010

Is a Market Rally on the Cards?

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

It seems it doesn’t take much to cause Irrational Exuberance these days with an Eureka at the close on Friday despite the somber news out of the Fed Meeting in Jackson Hole.  I have captured the headlines from Market Watch in the Chart below:


The chart below shows we had a strong Eureka Signal accompanied by most Market Indexes showing Price gains of >1.5%:

We have had a lot of negative news of late with the Market badly oversold so that it was no surprise that we had a “relief” bounce play, and dare I suggest we could have the start of a Rally:


There is a glimmer of hope for a follow through tomorrow given that Friday was a strong up day.  You will recall that I showed you back in the May 8, 2010 Blog the golden dates we use as benchmarks for proven rallies using %B of the Bollinger Bands.  Here is that chart to remind you:

Using Chris White’s handy-dandy EdgeRater Software, I was able to pluck the statistics of what transpired with the twenty Major Market Indexes and the usual X series ETFs during those crucial days before and after there was a strong signal that the Market was in Rally mode.

As you will quickly see from past history, the rally was golden provided it confirmed the previous day’s momentum, by most Indexes/ETFs moving from the Pink to the Yellow Zone on the day after the Eureka fired.  We currently have 14 stocks poised to move from the ideal spot of being in the >0.2 <= 0.3 Bucket, while the likes of the India Fund (IFN) and particularly the Utilities ETF (XLU) showing major strength as shown in the next chart:

Note the “4” I have circled which signifies that the XLU skipped four buckets of %B from Thursday to Friday as it went from a %B reading of 0.27 to 0.86, a 0.59 improvement in %B as shown on the chart.  I’ll leave you to compare the various ratios between Friday’s statistics and the two Benchmarks I have used, and you will see that “Jupiter is in line with Mars” if history is anything to go by.  Now, wouldn’t it be a turn up for the books if we see a follow through tomorrow, three days before the usual “Follow Through Day” (FTD) is supposed to show its muscle.  That should stiffen up a few backbones going into the Labor Day holiday.  If not, we can climb back into our shell and understand it was not to be in this crazy on-again-off-again market.

Best Regards, Ian.

Hindenburg Omen – More Brouhaha

Thursday, August 26th, 2010


Not to beat a horse to death, but I would like a short response from you on the H.O. Brouhaha that seems to have taken the spotlight again.  I always listen to your words instead of the masses … but what are your thoughts on words attributed to Miekka in his article?

Yours … Brother Steve


Brother Steve…As I Live and Breathe!  I have been kept mighty busy on the H.O. Brouhaha, but I am glad you came to visit.  You asked for a short response, but I have given you the whole nine yards.  Having spent over an hour on this reply, I intend to use it and your question on the blog having got your permission.

1.  Unfortunately, our HO is not registering the same as others as you have already suspected and known. A couple of things:

a.  The Reuters feed on Highs and Lows are different than others like WSJ.
b.  The way Matt originally set this beast up for us on the 10-Wk ma, suggests  this last one also didn’t trigger
c.  Not Matt’s fault, as he interprets our input requirements.  Just de-select the MA item and you will see it triggers.

So, net-net we can blame it on our criteria not being the same and/or more stringent than others.

2.  I am well past that point in the scheme of things: 

a.  There are several people who jump on this signal at the drop of a hat to make hay in selling Newsletters and Services

 b.  Miekka himself threw the whole community for a loop when in a recent interview he said he didn’t know where Wikipedia got the 2.2% number from.  He used to use 2.8% and then when decimalization came along he adjusted it to 2.5%.

c.  Likewise, we use 79 stocks instead of 69, according to Miekka’s rules.

So, net-net, it makes the whole mumbo jumbo a trifle dubious as far as the “triggering mechanism” is concerned.  But at this stage of events, who cares RIGHT NOW about the purity of the numbers…it’s close enough for Government Work to make the point that one should sit up and take note.

3.  As you know, I try hard to give both sides of the coin, and I appreciate folks like you who never waiver from their support of what I do, and look to me for the “straight skinees” when things look a trifle uncertain:

a.  You could blame me for fanning the flames by my reminding us that this is the 2nd Year of the Presidential Cycle, where most Bear Markets tend to occur and more so in the second half of the year (see my recent blog of August 19).  As you know, all my Impulse Signals are related to the Psychology of the Market, so it is only natural I would remind us of this every four years.  I show that same slide at every Seminar.  We are just 68 days from the mid-term Election. 

b.  But, aside from that, notice the yin-yang of the Eureka and Phoenix Impulse signals for the last four months which I have repeatedly mentioned, which is EXTREMELY unusual.  You and I know these are supposed to be, and are, Rare signals at the Fat Tails end of the Bollinger Bands, yet we see them two-a-penny these days, i.e., spells Volatility and Instability.

c.  You also see the latest mumbo jumbo (good stuff!) I am into on the %B Buckets which gives us far better insight with regard to the internals of the market.  Why do you think I keep circling that 536 on the spreadsheet I put up in the newsletter and the blog (see August 24  blog)?  The move from over 300 to 536 in one day in the >1.0 bucket is startling, and tantamount to a blow off on that day.  Come to look at it as Ron and I are always on our toes to do, it seems highly likely that it was triggered by a flight to Bonds, where now the chant is the Bond Bubble is coming.

So, net-net…it pays to be very cautious.  None of us know what will happen in the future, or can forecast a crash based on these signals.  All this business of “No Market Crash has happened without a Hindenburg Omen set up prior to it” is good hype and true, but what about the other 70% of the occasions when there has been no blow off.  You know and I know that all one can do is wet your finger and stick it up in the air and see which way the wind is blowing.  At the moment, the wind is gusting in your face, not at your back, so we take cover as I have taught you. 

4.  Be that as it may, who is right and who is wrong hardly matters;  the Psychological damage has already been done:

a.  Everyone, including the taxi drivers know we had Hindenburg Omens coming out of our ears.  It is the talk of the Internet.

b.  To boot, I now get 1000 hits a day on the blog, whereas I used to get 250 on a good day.  People feel I have something to offer, and they are again paying attention to my musings, especially since I gave an appropriate early alert back in 2007. 

c.  This only adds to the fuel that we are probably due for a double dip recession, and that debate can go on and on.

So, net-net, it says be on your toes and be prepared for a sudden yank of the chain ala Black Swan Days or worse yet the recent Flash Crash we had due to a one minute error that sent everything into a tail spin.  I am getting skeptical in my old age and wouldn’t put anything past anyone when it comes to the High Frequency Trading (HFT)  that is going on under our very noses.   Now everyone is waiting with bathed breath to see what comes out of Helicopter Ben who is holed up at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Fed’s annual sojoun.  Stay tuned.

Best Regards, Ian.

Stock Market: The Party’s Over For Now

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The sale of existing U.S. homes sank 27.2% in July which was the biggest one-month drop ever…largely because of the phase-out of a federal tax credit, and the market went down again true to form:


The S&P 1500 stocks have dropped again on Monday and today, and we now sit with 91% of the stocks below the Middle Bollinger Band of 0.5 and only 9% above it…oversold.  


We are barely 6 points higher than the low set on 7/2/2010, so it is a no brainer that we will test that tomorrow or if not, soon.  That would give us a double bottom where one might expect a bounce play from an oversold position.  Can we go lower?…Sure we have been as low as 97% of the S&P 1500 stocks below 0.5 as recently as 5/20/2010!

You have seen the spreadsheet below, before, so it is self-explanatory.  Since the Market broke down with a Phoenix Signal on 8/11/2010, we have two more to prove that the Bears are now in complete control, with the most recent one today!   Of course, we should look for a bounce play, but unless there is some startling positive news, the overall direction is overwhelmingly down for now.

To add to the Bulls’ problem, the overall emotion of the Market has turned very negative with all the discussion of Hindenburg Omen’s firing last week.  It is unlikely we will see another one soon unless the Market happens to turn up sharply, as the one item now which is a challenge is that the 10 Week Moving Average of the NYSE has recently turned down. 

Type 1 and 2 Intra-day and Inter-day Traders are enjoying this market…provided they are sharp and turn on a dime.  The rest should be sitting on the fence until there is more than hope to drive this market up. 

Best Regards, Ian.

Stock Market: Reviewing the Bidding; Bears hold the Trump Cards

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Now that the buzz is slowly subsiding regarding the Hub-hub of the spurious Hindenburg Omen sighting on August 12th, which our Reuters feed did not give us, it is time to review the bidding of where we stand at this notoriously dull time in the market.  I am pleased to mention that Robert Moreno, a RealMoney Contributor of The Street.com provided a thorough balanced and objective review of this subject, in which he cited my work, along with others on the subject.

 I appreciate Charley Willey giving me feedback that I have attempted to clear the muddy waters in the Comments Section of the previous blog.  Although I am a strong advocate of finding rare Impulse signals at the extremes of the Normal Distribution curve, the “Fat Tails” end as John Bollinger has dubbed this phenomenon, I am frankly amazed at the reaction that this Hindenburg Omen has created around the world where blogs from the Far East, Europe, and the U.S.A. have gone gaga for any bit of information pro or con. 

With all the cross currents in the World as well as the Stock Market where every bit of news drives the Indexes from Moment to Moment,  any insight that gives us an edge of which way the wind is blowing other than the obvious is where I try to ferret for nuggets, and so this particular blog will focus on what might be in store for us from what I have gleaned.

Let’s start at the beginning which is a favorite Chart of mine showing the “folklore” of the Four-Year Presidential Cycle, and it doesn’t take but two minutes to see that the second year is by far the worst. Note that the majority of these market drops occur in the latter half of the year: 

We have had a >17% Correction on most Market Indexes this year, but as yet no Bear Market.  Here is a a snapshot which shows the ups and downs of the past eight months in one chart.  The Heat Map gives us a quick view of how the Market has behaved, where at a glance we can see that the Market has been a highly volatile state in the past four months, where Eurekas and Phoenix’ have fired with reckless abandon.  Newbies reading this blog need only know that a Eureka is triggered by Irrational Exuberance by the Bulls, usually with an Index One-Day gain of >2%.  The same applies to a Phoenix which as you have guessed by now is a comparable rare Impulse signal by the Bears.  Net-net, this is an extremely UNSTABLE Market, and we don’t need an Hindenburg Omen to tell us that.  It has come down to trading intra-day only, and even then most lose money unless extremely nimble:

Over the course of the last month I have shown you on this blog my recent findings with regard to an unusual move in %B of 536 stocks of the S&P 1500 >1.0, above the Upper Bollinger Band.  That’s ~36%.  There has been an unusual flight to Bonds, ETFs and Inverse ETFs, which caused this one day jump from 307 to 536 stocks in the S&P 1500 to extremely ovesbought status. Based on past History the expectation was that within 13 days there would be a downturn.  Now that this has occurred again, the warning gave us 12 days of an impending collapse.  It happened one day before the supposed Hindenburg Omen triggered on the 12th August, after that drop of -2.9% registered with a Phoenix  as shown below, and a Big Kahuna to the downside:

Since then, the Market is trying to struggle back, but so far it continues to meander sideways to all intents and purposes.  Today was another shot across the bow, so the Bull Elephants need to weigh in heavily to prevent the inevitable trend which is setting up to the downside, given that we have the usual gloom and doom months ahead of us, this time leading into the November Elections.


The latest news on this score is that Helicopter Ben has started up a modest effort on POMO again, after a hiatus of 10 months.  You have forgotten all about Private Open Market Operations (POMO)…well it is back and may be the first signs of trying to prop up the Market in these uncertain times.  Don’t take this lightly as there is little doubt that this infusion of cash by the Fed did help to bolster the long Bull Rally in the early part of 2009.  This bolstering may last a few weeks as word gets out to give a perception of the idea that Uncle Ben’s dollar leaflets will get equities to rise again.   You and I both know that the last thing the Administration needs is a collapse prior to the mid-term elections in November.

So where do the Internals of the S&P 1500 sit with regard to %B above and below 0.5…Flat with the Bears still in control.  Today’s action will take things down further in favor of the Bears, and clean this rally out altogether before we start all over again:

…And here is another view of the same thing, which shows the Bulls have a ways to go to have any hope of renewing the rally, and today’s results makes that worse (not updated):


So let’s summarize the key points:

1.  The second year of the four-year Presidential Cycle produces the most Bear Markets

2.  We have already had a 17% correction, recovered half of that and sitting vulnerable at present

3.  A Strong Warning Flag of an intermediate top occurs with >500 Stocks in the S&P 1500 over %B 1.0.  One has about 12 days before the rally fades.  I didn’t say die, but corrects.

4.  It may be a coincidence that we had a Hindenburg Signal by some accounts one day after the Internals of the S&P 1500 collapsed and 12 days after the S&P 1500 Peaked with 536 stocks above the Upper Bollinger Band.

5.  The Administration cannot afford to have a Market Collapse before the November Election, and Uncle Ben has started to prop things up with his POMO once again.  Whether that is enough to stave off the Bears driving the market down remains to be seen during the recognized doldrum months of the  stock market season.

6.  The Bounce back has been tepid so far and the Bears are still in control.  Today’s further drop proves that in spades.  The market will soon be oversold once again.   Most are fleeing to Bonds and this area is hot, but that game is fast becoming overbought and vulnerable.

7.  Only Intra-day players have a chance to make money and they too have to be extremely nimble.  The rest would be well advised to take a vacation until this very unstable market settles down.  The tug-o-war between Bulls and Bears has become a farce, and mostly driven by HFT players…in my humble opinion.

Best Regards, Ian.

Hindenburg Omen (HO) – Commentary

Friday, August 13th, 2010

My thanks to all of you who visit my blog faithfully as well as the recent major surge relating to my last Blog Note published yesterday.

I urge you to read the “Comments” already posted at the bottom of that last Blog to get additional summary information on past sightings going back some 12 years.  Please understand that the recent excitement on the HO Signal that supposedly occurred on August 12th, is one of only two that did so with the 50-dma BELOW the 200-dma, and on this occasion at a level of 260 points…well below.   This is approximately 4% and very different from the single other occasion back in March 26, 2002 where the difference was a paltry 40 points below.  As we would expect, all the other signals occurred with the 50-dma above the 200-dma, since the Hindenburg Omen is expected to occur at Market Tops and not after the Market has just come out of an ~17% correction just five weeks ago.

This morning I had a conversation with Kevin Edgeley who is an AAPTA member in London, who gives a possible reason for the occurence, and with his permission  I offer you his note to me and my response for your perusal:


Please excuse the direct mailing;  I was given your e-mail by Ron Brown – a fellow AAPTA member.  There has been a fair amount of talk about the HO yesterday.  Could I clarify one thing?  Do you recommend looking only at 52 week highs and lows in the NYA composite (common stocks) rather then the full NYSE listing of over 3000?  It seems illogical to me to use the full listing when this incorporates bond funds and inverse index ETFs?  The full listing seems to show an HO while the common stock NYA doesn’t.

Thanks a lot


Hi Kevin:  You are most welcome…feel free to get in touch at any time.  I have the exact same feelings as you do, and I think you have hit the nail on the head.  Like everything else, with the passage of time circumstances change which can upset the apple cart of the good work by reputable people 30 years ago under a different set of conditions. 

Only yesterday, I was discussing with Ron, my partner and good friend of over 12 years that the recent heavy activity in Bond Funds may be “skewing data” regarding a totally different subject.  Add ETFs, Inverse ETFs and the recent new invention of HFTs (High Frequency Traders) to the equation and one can quickly see there is room for error in what was and is a highly reliable set of conditions.  Set that aside for a moment, and even the very data currently used is different from different source data vendors.

 It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the very numbers used to trigger the HO were back engineered to make sure that the triggers were rare and meant to catch Irrational Exuberance by the masses at Market Tops.  It so happens that the concept of working with the extremes of the Normal Distribution is common to my own work, and I latched onto it when I understood the great work of my neighbor, John Bollinger, with his discussion of “Fat Tails” related to his Bollinger Bands.

As I mentioned in my Blog, it seemed extremely unusual to me that we would be triggering a HO after coming out of a ~17% correction, and especially when the 50-dma is well below the 200-dma, i.e., a very weak condition as compared to most of the other occasions.  I refer you to the comments section of the previous blog where I explain in some detail the past history, and although Blaine was quick to point out that the stage in the market is very similar now to 2002, we must be careful as we watch events unfold going forward.   

I am not for one moment “pooh-poohing” (downplaying) what to me was an extremely valuable call back in 2007 for our clientele as witnessed on my Blog (where HO signals came in clumps at Market Tops).  I happen to know the integrity and outstanding contributions of Norman Fosback whose original work helped Kennedy Gammage and other well known contributors in the industry produce what was a cast-iron set of conditions that in essence identified when the Herd was euphoric at tops and the clever professionals were liquidating and getting out of the game before a potential precipitous fall in the market. 

 However, the very name has now come to be a paradise for fear mongering and one only has to look at what has transpired overnight across continents and the entire buzz on this subject to understand what this day and age of the Internet and 24/7 hour reporting can do for the stock market.  The last time my blog had so many hits was when I wrote a tongue in cheek note on the 401-K giving way to the 401-Keg!  I’ll gladly take the exposure in payment for all the times I never even get a thank you, which I know comes with the territory.

By the way, it is a long time since I was in Berkley Square, but your Nightingale sure sang well on this subject today.  I enjoyed talking with you.  We need inquiring minds like yours to understand the differences.

Best Regards, Ian.

Copyright © 2007-2010 Ian Woodward
Disclaimer: Commentaries on this Blog are not to be construed as recommendations to buy or sell the market and/or specific securites. The consumer of the information is responsible for their own investment decisions.