Don't give up on stocks just yet

It's hard not to be frustrated by volatility, but certain sectors could still be excellent buys.

By Dec 9, 2011 6:55PM

By Tom Aspray,

After the prior week’s 7.3% gain in the S&P 500, last week was bound to be a disappointment. Nevertheless, the relatively flat performance was pretty good and certainly better than I expected.

Trading kept up with the recent level of volatility. The week’s early rally was met with heavy selling Thursday as the positive impact of the widely expected ECB rate cut was dampened by comments that sent the yields on the Italian bonds sharply higher. The short-term technical action as of Tuesday’s close warned of a correction.

The market got relief early Friday as 17 countries agreed to an intergovernmental arrangement to handle budgetary matters, but the UK dissented. Since it was not unanimous, it will not be reflected by changes in any existing EU treaties. This, of course, puts the focus back on the ECB, which will need to take more forceful action.

The bottom line is that we are likely to see more sharp jolts to the stock market between now and year-end. The technical action favors higher prices going into the end of the year as long as the November 25 lows hold.

A gain of another 4% to 6% in the major averages would catch many by surprise, because after every successive market drop, we hear more analysts claim that we are already in a new recession or will enter one soon.

On the back of the surprisingly good monthly jobs numbers on December 2, last Friday’s preliminary reading on consumer sentiment from Reuters/University of Michigan rose to its highest level since June. This is likely a plus for the retail sector.

Click here to enlarge

On Tuesday, we get the latest reading on retail sales which should be helped by the record Black Friday numbers. As the chart indicates, retail sales have exceeded the 2008 peak, and are in a solid uptrend.

The prior uptrend was broken in early 2008, when retail sales topped out by the middle of the year (keep in mind, the economy was then solidly in a recession). Though this is just one economic indicator, in the past these charts have often given us some good insight.

Also on Tuesday, we get the report on business inventories, followed by import and export prices on Wednesday. The economic calendar gets busier on Thursday with jobless claims, producer prices, industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed Survey. Finally, on Friday, we get the Consumer Price Index.

Friday is additionally triple witching—the end-of-the-quarter event when the stock-index futures, stock-index options, and stock options for December all expire. As the name indicates, these days are often accompanied by increased volatility and heavy volume.


I was looking for a pullback early last week, and the sluggish nature of the rally suggested that by the middle of the week a deeper correction was possible. Friday’s strong performance clearly improved the technical outlook, but the market needs several strong days early this week to indicate prices are ready to accelerate higher.

The sentiment of both newsletter writers and individual investors fluctuates from week to week, but the majority are bullish. The readings are still well below the extreme levels that are typically seen at significant market tops. As you will recall, the sentiment was extremely bearish at the October lows.

(For more on the AAII Sentiment survey, watch “Secrets of the Sentiment Survey.")

Click here to enlarge

S&P 500
The Spyder Trust (SPY) tested the rising 20-day EMA Thursday at $123.65 and its breakout level (line b) before closing sharply higher Friday.

This low now represents first support, with further levels between $121.35 and $122.50. The daily uptrend (line c) is now at $118.35, with key support at $116.20 and the November 25 lows.

The S&P 500 A/D line turned up Friday, but is still well below major resistance (line d). Important support for the A/D line is at line e and the most recent lows.

A close above $127.50 will signal a test of the October highs of $129.42. The 127.2% Fibonacci retracement target is at $133.26, with the upper trend line resistance (line a) now at $134.

Dow Industrials
The Spyder Diamonds Trust (DIA) held up much better than SPY on last Thursday’s drop, as it held well above the rising 20-day EMA (in red).

It tested the October highs last Wednesday, and a decisive close above $122.58 should signal upward acceleration. The 127.2% retracement resistance stands at $125.61, with the upper channel (line f) at $127.

The daily Dow Industrials A/D line is also quite close to its prior highs, and shows a short-term as well as a longer-term pattern of higher lows. Initial support for the A/D line can be found at line h, with further levels at the late November lows.

The daily relative performance, or RS analysis (not shown) broke out to the upside last week. Near-term support for DIA sits at $119.64, followed by the gap between $116.18 and $118.41.

The PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) and the high-tech sector continues to be out of favor, as it has failed to outperform since the October lows.

Though it closed higher last week, it is still well below the strong resistance in the $57.50 to $58.50 area. QQQ traded as high as $59.83 in July.

The daily A/D line has turned up and continues to lag, while the daily on-balance volume (OBV) is still below its WMA. Therefore, it would take several weeks before this sector could take a leadership role.

There is still initial support at $54.60 (last Thursday’s low), with more important levels at $53 to $53.50. A close below $53.80 would be negative.

Click here to enlarge

Russell 2000

The iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund (IWM) rallied sharply Friday, closing below the recent highs at $75.39.

A close above this level is likely to mean that IWM will finally overcome the major 61.8% resistance in the $77 area (line a). This would signal a move to the trend line resistance at $80, if not the longer-term resistance in the $84 area.

The daily RS line turned up Friday, and could move through resistance (line d) early this week. This would signal that the small caps are now starting to lead the S&P 500 which is consistent with the January Effect.

The daily OBV was much stronger than prices in October, and is now trying to move back above its WMA. It will take a strong close above the downtrend (line f) to turn bullish.

There is initial support now at $72.22, with the uptrend (line c) now at $68.60.

Sector Focus 
The transportation stocks are an important market sector, so I closely monitor the iShares Dow Jones Transportation ETF (IYT). It started to outperform the S&P 500 in the middle of November, when the RS line moved through its resistance (line i).

IYT has key resistance now at $90.74 (line g), which if overcome should signal a move to the summer’s highs of $98.63 to $101.60.

Volume was heavy on last Thursday’s drop, which has kept the daily OBV below resistance (line j). To confirm the price breakout, one would like to see high volume.

There is initial support at $86.60, with stronger levels now at $84.40.

Click here to enlarge

Despite the sharp drop in the middle of November, the Select Sector SPDR Energy (XLE) has been one of the hottest sectors, up over 24%. The Sector SPDR Industrials (XLI) have also done well, rising 19.8%.

Both have done much better than the less volatile and lower-risk Select Sector SPDR Consumer Staples (XLP) and the Select Sector SPDR Health Care (XLV), which are both up just over 10%.

As I discussed last week, the long-term RS analysis for Select Sector SPDR Health Care (XLV) has deteriorated recently. On the other hand, it will take a few more weeks of positive action for the weekly analysis of the energy and industrial sectors to turn positive.

Interest Rates
I have been watching the bond market closely over the past few months. Although it is possible that they did make a significant top in the summer, concurrent with the peak in bullish sentiment, the bond ETFs I covered on Friday need to be monitored closely.

Click here to enlarge

Crude oil corrected briefly last week, but the February contract held well above support in the $95 to $96 area (line b). The daily flag formation has key resistance now at $102.50, which if overcome should signal a move to the $106 to $107 area.

The upper daily Starc band is now just above $105.58, with the weekly above $110.

The daily OBV continues to act stronger than prices, already having moved well above the November highs (line c). The OBV has good support at line d.

Precious Metals
The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) dropped briefly below the $166 level last week, where it was well supported. There is further support in the $162 to $163 area and the daily Starc- band.

A close above the recent high of $170.80 would convincingly break the downtrend (line e), with the next target just above $173 and the daily Starc+ band. There is further resistance at $177 to $180, while the daily flag formation (lines e and f) has Fibonacci retracement targets of $194.69.

The daily OBV has just slightly broken its downtrend (line g), suggesting that the worst of the selling may already be over. The seasonal tendency is for gold to bottom later in the month and then rise into February.

If gold’s correction is over, silver is also likely to be strong—as long as the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) can hold support in the $29 area. A close above resistance at $34.50 should signal a move to the 50% retracement resistance of $37.60.

The Week Ahead 
Every downdraft in the stock market convinces those who were waiting to “buy on the dip” to change their minds, only to be left on the sidelines.

Much of the price action often comes overnight in the futures, causing either sharply higher or sharply lower openings. This is likely further frustrating the investing public.

To signal sharply higher prices in the major averages, we need to see a move above the recent highs and watch the Dow Industrials, or the SPDR Diamonds Trust (DIA) in particular, as it should break out first.

This would cause a strong rally into Christmas, but would not be the oft-mentioned Santa Claus rally. The latter refers to the market's tendency to rise for the last five days of the year and the first two of the following year.

If the small caps start to outperform the S&P 500, that would be my favorite area, but continue to move up stops and take some profits on the days when the market is up sharply.

Dec 11, 2011 1:09PM
  I'm ocasionally hearing on a few of the more progressive show's of the trillion's that somebody's else's Federal Reserve is somewhat secretly printing up and throwing at bank's and Wall Street to be able to continue business as usual. I say somebody else's Federal Reserve because not only is it NOT a federal agency,but a group of wealthy banker's who print up money and loan it to supposedly congress at a huge rate of interest! The problem here being that they are apparently printing up money WITHOUT congressional approval...throwing it at the bank's and Wall Street to continue on enjoying the huge profit's with no reform in regulation's or business practice's, and charging it to me, you, your  kid's and grandkid's and their kid's and grandkid's. You tell me how long YOU think this can go on! If instead they had given each and every American a billion dollar's, they would have spent what, maybe three hundred and thirty billion, most american's would have  put a large portion of this billion in a bank, while spending some, thereby creating job's and stimulating the economy and we'd only have been three hundred and forty billion plus some interest in debt to that same group of wealthy bankers called the Federal reserve instead of trillion's! Bear in mind if you had spent a million dollar's a day since the day Jesus was born, you still wouldn't have spent a TRILLION...although conservative estimates I hear say the federal reserve has at the least tossed 12 TRILLION at bank's and Wall Street and other's say at least twice that! It appears to me the Federal Reserve along with most of our elected official's are most definitely working for Wall Street!   
Dec 11, 2011 12:36PM
What beautiful charts you have above. They look like the Swiss Alps. Are we going up or are we going down? Charting for the average "Joe" says nothing.
Dec 11, 2011 1:43PM
Yep. Don't give up on stocks yet. The elite want every last penney they may have missed out on. They are a people enslaved by their own greed.
Dec 11, 2011 10:02PM

Many of us had given uy taking any financial advise offered  on this site by many of it's writters and those responsible for creating, and re-creating (as the headlines get changed multiple times during the day on some stories) all that seriously, some time ago.  There can be more flip flops then a house of pan cakes when it comes to the assesement of what's going on.  And a given news story can go from "market is up, as people shed their fears of Europe debt crisis, to Europe debt crisis fears return: markets dip, to Europe continues: markets are mixed", to "Europe is better, stocks show gains" all in a matters of hours of each change to the headline on the same story....


No one ever accused some of the headline creators at MSN money of consistency in journalism; except perhaps if it was consistency in trying to convince people that things are better then they actually are, except for pesky reality that sometimes rears it's ugly head.  And from Friday to today, or Thursday to Friday, how much in the US economy really changed to rationally explain the wild ride the stock market has taken?  Simply changing a headline, or telling people "don't lose faith, keep putting more money into the casino which is the stock market of present" doesn't change the underlieing picture of what people are seeing in their lives, their families lives, their communities, their states, or the like.  Like for instance some of those state budgets, the fiscal issues surrounding them, and Congresses inability to get along with itself when matters of the federal budget comes up again.  And while the news wrt Europe will continue next year; we will also have the joys of the 2012 budget debate which is about to begin, on next years budget; right on the super committees announcement that they came to an impass and can't agree with each other on anything...  Yes, that gives people a lot of reason to trust in the financial picture moving ahead; even while their own leaders are too busy being at each other's throats to even begin to deal with the debt issue here in the US itself.

Dec 12, 2011 11:13AM
Jobs number for unemployment was a fudged number that everyone knows. But you guys pretend that this is a "good" solid number for BO. Typical.
Dec 11, 2011 7:03AM

not sure as to what is happing . but  will someone  explain to  me  if the stock market keeps  going  up  gas  food  ect ect  cost  more the dollar  loses its  value and we have  no  work  or  wage  increase other  then  we all have  401k  money in  the  market which we   can't  get  out   unless  we  quit are  job .  which  will cost  us  40% in  taxes  i think it is  time  we are allowed to  move  are  money out  of the  market without  quitting  are  job  as  long  as they  have control of  are  retirement  we  americans  can  do  nothing .  who  ever thought  up  the  401k  knew  how  to control the  world  the  rich  get  richer  i  think its  time  we  quite feeding  the  rich and  Europe 

Dec 11, 2011 1:58PM
Don't give up on stocks.  Wages will continue to fall while Uncle Sam is allied with big busn to drive the self-employed and small busn under.  While we are becoming a 3rd world nation, hard assets and M1 are being transferred from the middle class to the governing class and the rich.  The new stats show the financial sector's share of the GDP has INCREASED  @ 15% (from slightly over 7% of GDP to over 8% of GDP) since the banking crisis began.  Fewer banks with a greater share of the economy.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. to concentrate power in so few hands. 
Dec 12, 2011 12:18PM
SmileHi, my family is  doing better every year not because of some politian , its because  God has  given me and my my wife the ability to go to work every day and  save money !
Dec 10, 2011 10:20PM
Paul Krugman said it best,  what has been decided in Europe is just an option for orthodox policies that will take Europe to deep recession. There is no reason for the stockmarket head other than south.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
262 rated 2
480 rated 3
651 rated 4
649 rated 5
629 rated 6
616 rated 7
496 rated 8
346 rated 9
111 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.