Markets struggle with data

The markets closed lower on Tuesday thanks mostly due to data from China, Retail Sales, Fed talk, Home Depot earnings, and the debt ceiling talks or lack of… all put together kept the markets in check. The major indexes all closed in negative territory some worse than others but the positive signs from Monday reversed on the news. The SOXX was a standout Monday and started higher but gave back early gains on Tuesday to close on a tombstone doji and raise questions about breaking higher. Small caps gave up Monday’s gains, the Dow closed lower again, and the one bright spot was technology. All said this puts us back where we were to end last week… too many issues and not enough conviction to lead the markets higher. The economic data didn’t help as Retail Sales for April grew 0.4% versus the 0.7% expected and -0.7% previous. Remember that annual sales are measured in dollars not percentages adjusted for inflation. Inflation was up 0.4% in April… which puts the number flat to negative… gasoline prices were down 10%… factoring in some of the dollar adjustments… not a good number. China reported solid economic data but not good enough to drive global growth… thus selling. No progress in the debt ceiling talks… McCarthy publically stated that Biden was ‘bumbling’ into a debt default the same way he did the border, refusing to discuss the debt ceiling for the past 100 days. The throw-in Fed presidents out talking about inflation, rate cuts, debt issues, and banks, what more could an investor want? Mega cap stocks looked good to start on Tuesday but managed to post a solid 0.1% gain on the day. If you run a scan of the ETFs on Tuesday you would find leaders were DRV, DRIP, ERY, SRTY, BNKD, SDOW, and FAZ… all leveraged inverse ETFs. We now turn to Wednesday to see what if anything will lead the markets… up or down. Neither side has conviction at this point. Stay focused and disciplined.

The S&P 500 held above the 4086 support and closed lower on the day. QQQ held above the $320.92 level helped keep the upside trend alive. The NASDAQ composite index closed lower as it was very mixed overall. Breadth didn’t increase and the SOXX failed to follow through on the day. The close above the $418.50 level breaks the downtrend from the March highs… still needs to follow though, but more important would be the shift in leadership for the broader index. Volume was below average on the day with one of the eleven sectors closed in positive territory. The S&P 500 index closed down 0.6%. The NASDAQ was up 0.1% with SOXX down 0.2%. Small Caps (Russell 2000) were down 1.4% giving up Monday’s gains. The ten-year treasury yield closed at 3.54% up 3 bps on the day. Crude (USO) was down 0.7%… watching how it plays out against the background of economic data. Gasoline (UGA) was up 0.3%. Natural gas (UNG) was down 1.1% still showing a positive reversal on the chart. The dollar was up 0.2% still struggling overall. We are focused on managing the risk and watching how this all unfolds.

ONE Chart to Watch: QQQ – 1) Remains above the $320.92 resistance and followed through on the upside break adding to the uptrend. 2) Short-term trend is UP… starting from the January low. 3) Uptrend line held along with the $312.78 support. 4) Note the declining trend in volume since the March lows… money supply same thing, not a confidence builder for the uptrend. 5) Breakout confirmed and trend established for now. 6) TQQQ entry $27.45. stop $28.10. target $32.28.

Additional Charts to Watch: SPY – reversed back above support at $407.19. Followed through to break higher… but testing again. IWM – retested the previous lows again… favoring the downside technically… SOXX – retested lows with a downtrend from the March highs… bounced Wednesday… got some follow-through with some leadership on Monday… failed to hold the Tuesday gains… tombstone doji to watch on Wednesday. Added SOXL @ $14.65. USO – oversold… gap bounces off the lows watching for an opportunity.

Leadership – NASDAQ, NASDAQ 100, SP500, DBP, Dow… QQQ breaks higher along with the NASDAQ. Others trying to resume upside momentum. DIA struggling with three doji candle closes in a row that broke lower on Tuesday… if the downside follows through today offers a short trade opportunity. Volume was below average on the moves… need more breadth in the move overall. Back to the no-conviction territory for investors.

Laggards – SOXX, SP400, RUTX, USO, XLF… struggling as growth stocks are still not showing the needed leadership. If the markets are to run higher we need to see them participate. SOXX posted a positive move Monday, and raised questions on Tuesday… decision time? IWM can’t get out of the bottoming range. IJH testing recent lows. XLE broke lower keeping the downtrend alive. KBE still looking for more downside.

Interesting Charts: MSFT (break from flag pattern). WFC (testing lows) Jun 23 37 Puts $1.45. MU (break higher from range $64.27). ON (breakthrough resistance. $83). AI (break higher… $23 level to hold). FAZ ($22.75 level to clear to add to position).

ON TAP THIS WEEK: 1) Empire State Manufacturing Expected -5. (absolutely ugly report at -31.8…) Philly Fed Factory Survey -20 expected. 2) Retail Sales +0.8% expected. (0.4% versus -0.7% previous). 3) Industrial Production 0.1% expected. Capacity Utilization 79.7% expected. 4) Housing Starts 1.4 million expected. Building Permits 1.43 million expected. Existing Home Sales 4.26 million are expected. 5) US leading economic indicators -0.6% expected. 6) Fed presidents are out all week beating the drum against inflation. (Bostic stated he didn’t see a rate cut prior to year end). 7) Resistance needs to be broken if the uptrend is to continue.

Previous Charts of Interest – Still in Play: AAPL (reversal confirmed). Earnings 5/4 after-hours beat estimates. Holding. AMZN (bottom reversal) Holding (continued upside on Thursday… raised stop). MCD breakout. Holding. TSLS. Holding. SPXL breakout. Holding. SOXX reversal. Holding. TQQQ breakout. Holding. SRS Holding (big break higher Tuesday). SJB Holding (break higher Tuesday). TGT (descending triangle short setup with Jun Puts). Holding. UGL (breaking higher from range). Holding. LABU (break up from bottoming range). Holding. ARKK (bottom reversal). Holding. EMTY (breakout confirmation). Added 5/8. FNGU (breaking out). Added Tuesday 5/8. BNKD (running higher… look for test and entry near $15.25) Added Tuesday 5/8. GOOG (Channel breakout – raised stop). Added Wednesday 5/9. DLTR (Consolidation breakout). Added on Friday 5/12. CL (Flag pattern). Added Friday 5/12.

Stops Hit: WMT (solid gain)

Quote of the Day: “If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.” – Yogi Berra.

The S&P 500 index closed down 26 points to 4109 the index was down 0.64% with below-average volume on the day. The index held above the 4086 support. 4173 is the next key resistance for the index. Plenty of issues facing the markets on Tuesday as it gives up early gains. One of the eleven sectors closed higher on the day with technology as the leader up 0.1%. The worst performer of the day was energy down 2.4%. The VIX index closed at 17.9 up on the day. The uptrend from the October low remains in play. Plenty to watch as this all unfolds.

Sector Rotation and the S&P 500 Index:

XLB – Basic Materials downtrend off the January highs with some volatility along the way. Flirting with the 200-day MA as support. The sector was down 2% for the week. Back below the 200-day MA.

XLU – Utilities trending lower from the December highs. 200-day MA is resistance on the chart. $68 is the support. The sector was flat for the week. Entry $68. Stop $67.80 HIT STOP. Second day lower breaking support.

IYZ – Telecom downtrend from the February highs. No momentum to speak of and looking for a break lower. The sector was down 1.6% for the week. Bear flag on chart.

XLP – Consumer Staples upside trend with flag pattern last few weeks showing a pause. The sector was down 0.1% for the week. The trend is up from the March lows. Rolling top. Testing support.

XLI – Industrials triangle pattern of consolidation on the chart. Looking for a trend to break up or down. The sector was down 1% for the week. Breaking from the triangle consolidation pattern.

XLV – Healthcare drifting lower with support at $130.68. Topping pattern on the chart. The sector was down 1% for the week. XBI solid upside trend. Testing support?

XLE – Energy broke the $82.74 support… attempted to bounce but resumed the downside. The sector was down 2.1% for the week. The downtrend is in play from the November highs. Crude is down on global demand speculation relative to slowing economics. Short-side trade entry hit $82.70 (XLE). ERY entry $30.50. Stop $33.50. Broke lower raised stop.

XLK – Technology The sector remains in a trading range. Closed at the top of the range… need to clear $151.53. The sector was down 0.2% for the week. Need some leadership from the sector if markets are going higher. SOXX lagging. GOOG running on AI news. Cleared the $151.53 resistance.

XLF – Financials broke below the $32.36 level… banks are still a challenge for the sector overall. The sector was down 1.3% for the week. The trend is down from the February highs. KBE & KRE down on the day.

XLY – Consumer Discretionary consolidation pattern in play on the chart with an attempted break higher during the week. Retail got a boost on reports that the consumer is spending. They learned from the government. The sector was up 0.4% for the week. Broke from the trading range… need to follow through. Cleared $147.11 resistance.

IYR – REITs remain in a trading range within the downtrend from the February highs. The sector was down 1.1% for the week. The negative influence of interest rates and reports of vacancies in commercial rents are rising. Own SRS on downside risk. Residential moving up… commercial moving down. Broke support at $82.96 and watching.

Summary: The index was lower on the day. It is still holding the move above the 4086 level. It is narrow in breadth and definitely a sector-driven market. XLK and XLY moved higher and leading. KBE gave back gains and still shows downside risk. XLE is still on the short side of the chart. The index remains in an uptrend from the October low. News is the primary driver up and down for the index. Banks (KRE) are getting the blame for the negative environment… what about the debt ceiling chatter… it hasn’t helped either. Remember two things; first, the trend is your friend, and second, don’t fight the Fed.

(The notes above are posted at the end of each week based on activity from the previous week’s trading. The BOLD/ITALIC comments are the current-day changes worthy of note.)


The NASDAQ index closed down 22 points to 12,343 as the index was down 0.11% for the day. The index moved above resistance and followed through in the uptrend. Mega-caps leading along with technology. SOXX is trying to contribute. 11,800 is the level of support to hold.

NASDAQ 100 (QQQ) was up 0.37% with the mega caps pushing to new highs. Held above the $320.92 resistance again… followed through on the uptrend. The support is $312.78 and watching as we break from the trading range. The sector had a negative bias with 20 of the 100 stocks closing in positive territory for the day. Added TQQQ entry $27.45 (raised stop $27.30).

Semiconductors (SOXX) Tested the $400 level of support and struggling to find any upside momentum. Still trading below the 50-day MA. A downtrend is in play from the March highs. Added SOXL $13.60. Stop $13.10. The sector was down 1% for the week. Watching how it plays out next week. Failed to hold the early gains on Tuesday… Watching for the follow-through.

Software (IGV) Tested to the $289 support level and bounced. Added IGV $291. Stop $291 (adjusted). The sector was up 1.3% for the week. Mega caps leading the sector. Nice bounce back from Friday.

Biotech (IBB) The sector tested back to the $128.35 level and consolidating. The sector was down 1.3% for the week. Large caps are outperforming small and mid-cap stocks. Added IBB $129.50. Added XBI $82.80. Consolidation pattern in a downtrend. Retesting the $128.35 support.

Small-Cap Index (IWM) lagging overall as investors move away from growth to safety. Established a bottoming range. The sector was down 1% for the week. Letting it unfold. Failed to hold the Monday gains back to the near-term lows.

Transports (IYT) negative earnings created a big test lower to support at the $213 level. Established a trading range. The sector was down 1.6% for the week. If the markets are to move higher overall they need transport to be positive. Downside momentum building again.

The Dollar (UUP) The dollar remains volatile but did break higher to end the week. What is on the horizon? If the dollar gets stronger watch the ripple effect… but, needs to follow through first. The dollar was up 1.6% for the week. Bounced again?

Treasury Yield 10-Year Bond (TNX) The yield closed the week at 3.46% up from 3.44% last week. Mixed reactions all week reacting to the news. Consolidation range for yields & TLT. TLT was down 0.6% for the week. 3.54% up 3 basis points. TLT lower on the day.

Crude oil (USO) Bounced and then sold lower… the news states China and US are consuming less on weaker economic data. The pressure will be on the upside longer term… watching how the short term unfolds and what opportunities are offered. USO was down 1.5% for the week. Looking for direction…

Gold (GLD) The commodity is consolidating near the highs and testing this week. The stronger dollar is weighing on the metal… for now. The metal was down 0.3% for the week. Watching for the upside to resume. Big downside with the dollar moving higher.

Questions to Ponder: Navigating Uncertainty

Stagflation – persistent inflation combined with stagnant consumer demand and relatively high unemployment. Do we have this situation currently in the US economy? If it doesn’t exist in a purely technically defined way, it is creating the same economic environment currently in the US, and the current administration is in denial. Thus, we will continue to feel the effects of this until we change course.

Money SupplyFalling at the fastest rate since 1930. M2 fell 2.2% in February and fell 2.4% in March… Contraction in supply should contract liquidity in the system and stifle inflation. Watch bank deposits they are still declining. See the above definition of stagflation… the pressure on the economy is building.

Banking Facts: banks borrowed $8 billion last week down from the $32.6 billion the previous week. 9% decline reported by regional banks in deposits… outflows remain… “sound and resilient”. The Fed is giving just enough money through the BTFP (Bank Term Funding Program) facility to keep from a collapse ($305.4 billion, up $8 billion on the week) but not enough to eliminate the pain. “Sound and resilient” are the words uttered by many… not even close.

Week ending 5/3 – Money Market Funds showed an $18.3 billion increase in deposits. Bank deposits fell $13.8 billion. Doesn’t include the PACW announcement of a 10% decline in deposits… “sound & resilient”!

Consumer credit card debt is on the rise. It totaled $986 billion in the first quarter. This is a negative sign for the economic picture as most consumer debt is attributed to monthly expenses rising due to inflation.


Our longer-term view is still negative, but nothing goes straight down or up… there are always positive and negative swings in a longer-term trend. A look at the daily chart from the October lows validates exactly that premise. We have to remain focused on short-term trades until there is longer-term directional clarity. Sector-driven activity is in play short term with narrow leadership. News is in the driver’s seat as we take positions that are technically moving and offering opportunities. The key remains, know where you are now, know what is happening now, and know what is on the horizon… act accordingly. The goal now is to manage the risk of positions, take what is offered… short or long, and then manage your money.

Tuesday: Stocks were lower on below-average volume. NASDAQ mega-caps closed positive with some intraday volatility. Defensive stocks still testing lower. Banks (KBE) bounced off the lows showing some signs of life… gave some back on Monday. Energy (XLE) broke lower. The balance of the sectors are moving sideways and bucking resistance. Overall the signals are mixed with QQQ, XLK, XLY, IGV showing leadership with SOXX still in limbo. One of the eleven sectors closed higher on the day with below-average volume. We see the overall trend is still up from the October lows. NASDAQ is leading, S&P 500 is drifting, Small caps and Dow are lagging. Looking for some breadth in the move higher to gain confidence in the move. I am willing to be more patient than anxious currently as the trend unfolds.

What I am watching on Wednesday: Large-cap biotech XBI upside resumption with test to the previous lows… KBE/KRE downside resumption? A run higher in GOOG… SOXX follow through… broader leadership coming? This market has to be evaluated sector by sector to define the leadership near term. Positive setups are in place but no real follow-through on the upside yet. Upside: QQQ, SOXX. Downside: FAZ, SRS, ERY, TZA.

“Vision without action is a daydream… Action without vision is a nightmare.” Japanese proverb

The goal of these notes is to allow you, the investor, to learn how to see the market development as the progression through the sector develops based on news, speculation, and data. Data drives long-term results and develops trends… speculation and news are short-term drivers and offer higher risk trading opportunities. Through the use of both technical and fundamental data, we can have greater confidence in our trading strategies with a disciplined approach to investing and managing the risk of our money.

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