This is the last year of the bull market in stocks

Many traders and investors have been unnerved by the stock market’s recent price action. This is understandable, with the S&P 500’s futures going up and down 1-2% every single day on the intraday.

Such high volatility is typical of the final 8-12 months before the bull market tops.
Here’s the October 2007 top.

Here’s the March-September 2000 top.

The U.S. stock market’s current corretion particularly reminds me of the July – August 2007 correction. It was a rather large “small correction” of 10-12%. It was also very short (i.e. approximately 1 month), with LOTS OF VOLATILITY.
But sure enough, the first sign of high volatility was not the end of the bull market.
Here’s the S&P 500 right now.

Here’s what you should do during periods of high volatility.

  1. DO NOT stare at the price every single hour. It will drive you crazy. Up 10 points, then down 20 points, then up 15 points, then down 30 points, then up 35 points. Do not let the market’s recent direction drive your thinking. Independent thinking is critical.
  2. Focus on medium term risk:reward. Can the market fall more in the short term? It certainly can. Anything is a possibility because there is no such thing as 100% certainty in the markets. But what matters is probability and risk:reward. E.g. if the market has a short term max downside risk of e.g. 5%, and an upwards target of 10%, that is a 1:2 risk reward ratio.

Here are more signs that the U.S. stock market’s medium term outlook is bullish (ontop of the other recent signs)
*Let’s analyze the stock market’s price action by quantifying technical analysis. For the sake of reference, here’s the random probability of the U.S. stock market going up on any given day, week, or month.

Something to scare the s*#@ out of you

I saw this on Twitter:

From 1950 – present, there have been 23 historical cases in which the S&P went down more than -3% the previous day and went up more than +1.8% today.
The average drawdown over the next week was more than -5%

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
Here’s the reality. Most of these historical cases happened AFTER the S&P had already fallen more than 30%. So of course the max drawdowns would be so big. Towards the end of a bear market, volatility is crazy high, so 5% up and down swings are very common. Remember October/November 2008, when the market would easily go up and down a few percent each day.
But of course this doesn’t stop other market commentators from publishing these stats, because hey, bad news sells like hot cakes. Context is very important when looking at market studies.
Here are the historical cases, and what the S&P 500 did next.

More short term volatility is normal, but this is hardly “end of the world”. 3 months later, the S&P was up all but 2 times. The single big loss case happened in September 2008, AFTER the S&P had already fallen -30% and a recession had started.
Today? The economy is still growing, and the S&P’s decline is just -10%. The most similar case is October 1997 when the U.S. stock market tanked.

We can look at yesterday’s price action in more detail. The S&P fell more than -3% the previous day, went up more than 1% yesterday, and yesterday was an “inside day” (the daily HIGH was below the previous day’s HIGH, and the daily LOW was below the previous day’s LOW).

Here’s what happens next to the S&P 500 (historically) when it fell more than -3% the previous day, went up more than 1% today, and today is an “inside day”.

As you can see, some more short term weakness might follow, but generally it is a medium-long term bullish sign for the stock market.

NASDAQ and Russell are terrible

The NASDAQ and Russell have been significantly weaker than the broad S&P 500 during this “small correction”. (Out of these 3 indices, the Russell is the weakest.)
The Russell has fallen in 26 of the past 40 trading days. This was rare from 1987 – present. Historically, this usually led to a rebound in the Russell on every single time frame.

Meanwhile, the NASDAQ has gone down 24 of the past 40 trading days. This is neither consistently bullish nor bearish for the NASDAQ.


The NASDAQ 100’s breadth is terrible. Less than 32% of its stocks are above their 200 day moving average.
Here’s what happens next to the NASDAQ 100 when 31% or less of its constituents are above their 200 dma (first time in 3 months).

As you can see, this is a short term bearish sign for the NASDAQ, but a medium-long term bullish sign

Very interesting comment

James wrote a very interesting comment in yesterday’s post.

I neither agree nor disagree. I just find it interesting that he uses liquidity in this way.


Not much has changed in our discretionary outlook over the past few days:

  1. The current bull market will peak sometime in mid-2019.
  2. The medium term remains bullish (i.e. trend for the next 6-9 months). Volatility is extremely high right now. Since volatility is mean-reverting and moves in the opposite direction of the stock market, this is decisively medium term bullish.
  3. The short term is a 50-50 bet right now. Moreover, the stock market is likely to remain volatile in the short term (big up and down swings). 
  4. When the stock market’s short term is unclear (as it is most of the time), focus on the medium term. Step back and look at the big picture. Don’t lose yourself in a sea of noise.

Our discretionary outlook is usually, but not always, a reflection of how we’re trading the markets right now. We trade based on our clear, quantitative trading models, such as the Medium-Long Term Model.
Members can see exactly how we’re trading the U.S. stock market right now based on our trading models.
Click here for more market studies

3 comments add yours

  1. Troy. I am not sure about the liquidity value of 60 or 11…would you have a url/pointer so I can learn more on what(calculation) is behind those numbers? Seems like an important concept to understand…thanks.

  2. Troy, thanks for your opinion. I wasn’t going to do this, but Since there seems to be enough traders who are interested in understanding this topic and since I have rarely seen it explained on the internet in lay-man’s terms, I would like to throw in my own two cents about what (my version) of liquidity and how it works. There are many versions, of course, that may even be more correct, but I’m only going to give the version that has saved me my hard-earned money from huge drawdowns that happened a few weeks after my indicator told me that something was definitely wrong.
    Because it is *not* a buy or sell signal, but shows what the risk is to the traders’ money supply under different stress engagements like the credit markets. It’s not perfect, and sometimes the market goes sideways instead of falling, but it’s like having an non-emotional voice whisper in your ear that this time, the upcoming correction could be different. This upcoming correction may not be an orderly pullback like all the other times because there isn’t enough demand (on this decline) to buy anyone’s shares and there is a huge glut of supply (too many investors selling this time). When it doesn’t change that much in percentage over years and now it’s quickly falling apart. Even if the market advances, it may be time to protect some of our capital only until the risk subsides. Why? Because there are incidents everyday like the trade war or tensions in China when the US Naval Destroyer sails within 12 miles of Spratly Islands which could start a war, or maybe the Fed says something to spook the markets. See? If Liquidity is thin and a major event happens, there’s no floor of liquidity to catch all the traders who are panicking and get things back to normal.
    Because it’s a measure of risk, you are never 100% all-out or all-in the market, unless it’s a bear market. I merely went from 100% equities to fifty percent. That way if my indicator is wrong, ie, the market continues to go up rapidly, you still don’t lose money
    Liquidity has been defined by many economists, columnists, indicators, but, for me, liquidity basically comes down to one thing. How much is your portfolio worth at this second? If you had to cash out now, How much cash can you get for your shares at this very second? I will approach its signifigance from this POV.
    It will take some time to prepare, but I promise to be back in a few hours with a (USER-FRIENDLY) Explanation so everyone can understand it better. What Troy does best here is that he is a good teacher especially to all you newcomers who don’t understand how it all works and makes complex answers very understandable. So I’m trying to follow his spirit and do it in the same manner.

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