Market Overview: Identifying a Change of Trend

Standard & Poor’s said it downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ because it believes the U.S. will keep having problems getting its finances under control and pointed to the lack of leadership in Washington. Per Yahoo Finance: “The Obama administration called the move a hasty decision based on wrong calculations about the federal budget. It had tried to head off the downgrade before it was announced late Friday.”

Politicians lie and markets do not so ignore Washington and focus on PRICE and VOLUME action!

So, with that said, what does last week’s action across the US and global market truly mean? The $DJIA was down 5.75% on the largest volume since last summer, the $COMPQ was down 8.13% on the largest volume since May 2010 and the $SPX was down 7.19% on the largest volume since May 2010.

All three major markets confirmed a Dow Theory Reversal, a “Change of Trend”. In addition to the major indexes, the Dow Transports TRAN also confirmed a Dow Theory Reversal by breaking support and making a lower low.

Emotionally, I suspect that the market will bounce and that many stocks and indexes are “oversold” but this will most likely only be short term. Long term, the trend HAS CHANGED according to the charts. And until the charts show a new trend to the upside, all moves up are suspect. No one has to pick the exact bottom or top of a market so be grateful to recognize a trend and grab 60-80% of the move. It’s a lot safer and less risky to jump on board once the trend is confirmed rather than play a guessing game that can get you caught in a 500 point slide, similar to last Thursday. Markets can change on a dime so be prepared at all times but longer term trends stay intact for months, if not years.

I made a mistake in my general market analysis by not paying enough attention to my New High – New Low (NH/NL) Indicator. And it cost me because I put on positions in $RENN and $DANG in recent weeks after warning signals had been given. I did avoid a new position in $LNKD and saved money heading into the earnings announcement. Overall, shame on me but I didn’t lose too much because rules were followed and I am digging deep to listen to my indicators. Regardless of what “ I think may happen”, I am listening to my indicators and charts 100%!

So you ask: What warning signals?
The first signal was given by the Dow Jones NH/NL 10-day average differential (Diff) (chart above). The 10-d Diff started to make lower lows as the Dow was making higher highs, a clear divergence that warns the underlying stocks are weakening while the overall market is making a new high. This one signal alone should have put me on caution while entering new positions. It didn’t because the NH/NL 10-d Diff was still above the critical level of zero. Well, the market took care of that this week by plunging below the zero level, closing at -203 on Friday for the Dow. Consider this, it closed at +15.1 last Thursday ( 7/28) but went red the following day at -2.5 (last Friday, July 29, 2011). The divergence and the reading below zero was now screaming MOVE TO CASH and gave us enough time to do it before the end of the week romp! We all had time to get out without taking a loss. As it stands now, the 30-d Diff is also below zero with a reading of -21.47, the first reading below zero since July of 2010.

It’s interesting that the markets topped in May, just as Osama Bin Laden was killed – I must give a HT to Howard Lindzon for coining the Osama Bin Laden Top (he may have nailed it) and closing his blog post with this statement:

With the mood of financial markets quickly turning negative, the horrific price action of financials, the silliness of IPO valuations and some Bitcoin mishigas, you may not soon forget the ‘Osama’ top.

Now, let’s take a look at a number of charts and see what they “were” saying and what they “are” saying right now, as we head into next week (ahead of the market reaction to the US credit downgrade). NOTE: I personally believe that the downgrade is mostly priced into the market but I am sure we will still see some further selling pressure before a normal bounce.

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Market Distribution and Trend Reversals

The NASDAQ ($COMPQ) has registered 6 distribution days in less than a month and the DOW ($INDU) has flashed 5 distributions days during the same period of time. The NASDAQ has gapped below its 50-d moving average (MA) while the DOW is hanging on to this shorter term support line. Both indices are still above their longer term support, the 200-d moving average, so a trend reversal hasn’t confirmed yet.

However, this clear distribution is giving us a message. What is that message?

Well, just as follow-through days signal the potential start of a new rally (uptrend), five or more distribution days within a few weeks (on above average volume) is starting to hint the rally is coming to an end.

It’s clear that the uptrend has halted its continuous trek to new highs while the odds favor that the market is heading towards a correction.

So, what do you do?

Immediately assess each of you individual holdings and start to lock in gains on stocks churning (no longer making new highs). You don’t have to sell the entire position but it may be a good idea to scale back and definitely get off margin if you are employing leverage.

As mentioned in a previous post, Market Reversal? View the NH-NL Ratio, the NH-NL ratio is the strongest secondary indicator on the market for a major trend reversal. The NYSE registered its first negative reading since November 16, 2010. The NASDAQ has registered its first multi-day negative readings since November 16-17, 2010. The overall 10-day MA differential for both indices is still positive but a move to negative territory will be the major confirmation.

Price and volume tips you off as the main indicator while the NH-NL ratio confirms the longer term trend reversal.

If following items confirm, I highly suggest that you move to cash and avoid the risk of losing recent gains or start to show a loss.

  • 5 or More distribution days on multiple indices within a few weeks
  • Index price moves below the major moving averages (50-d and 200-d MA)
  • New High – New Low 10-d MA Diff turns negative
  • And most important: your individual holdings are making lower lows and lower highs while slicing major moving averages

Nothing is guaranteed in the market but when distribution days pile up (in a short period of time), it’s time to take notice, lock in gains and look to move to cash if all support and confirmation indicators confirm.

Let’s keep an eye on the NASDAQ, DOW and NH-NL ratio.

Market Reversal? View the NH-NL Ratio

Is the market topping? Is it setting up for a reversal?

Let’s ask the NH-NL ratio, considering it has been “spot on” for every major market reversal as far back as the data started to be gathered (decades). Until the NH-NL ratio reverses, don’t consider any reversal sustainable: history speaks for itself.

Watch the NH-NL daily and weekly readings, the entire story will be told here (NO other indicator is necessary).

NYSE New High New Low Extreme

The market closed last Friday registering the second most New High’s (NH’s) recorded in a database that I have going back decades. At 634 NH’s, it’s the most new highs registered on one day in almost 30 years. More than any one day during the dot com boom of the late 1990’s, more than any day recorded during the run in 1987 and more than anything this millennium.

Only one other date surpasses Friday’s total: Monday, October 11, 1982 when the DJIA closed at 1,072.79. The market recorded 653 NH’s, 7 NL’s, 1,504 advances, 292 decliners and “up” volume outpaced “down” volume by an almost 10-1 ratio.

The NASDAQ closed at 202.31 on the same day with 418 NH’s, 14 NL’s (not even in the top 10 for the highest number of NH’s ever recorded). Do note this: the highest NASDAQ reading ever came later that year on Thursday, November 4, 1982 with 525 NH’s (following that week’s election day).


So what does this all mean? Well, by mid-1983, the market surged higher by 20%. It continued to move higher until the crash in 1987 but long term, the market is up well over 10-fold since this NH extreme.

How about today’s market? I can only tell you this: we are in an up-trend as of today and until the market breaks that trend, do not try to “guess” when it will reverse.

I have my “opinions” of the market but as you all know, we must trade what is actually happening, not what we think should be happening. Yes, I am concerned the market would like to correct longer term based on poor economic policies, tremendous debt levels, a depreciating dollar and most important: possible inflation. But, until we get the true catalyst, trade what the market is telling you.

The 634 NH’s represents an extreme in the market and I will be watching for further catalysts. How long can this market sustain higher stock prices based on faulty growth? You can only take so many cash advances on your credit cards without paying before they cut off your borrowing capacity. Maybe I have it all wrong but I am concerned long term. Short term, the market is higher unless it says otherwise.

I leave you with this: the vast number of “gap-ups” in stocks making new highs concerns me. Do they want to fill? If so, we will have an almost endless supply of high quality shorts to trade.

Chart provided courtesy of

All-Time Top 10 NASDAQ Daily New Highs

The data in the below tables are compiled for the NASDAQ dating back to the 1970’s. I will admit that it doesn’t go back to day 1 in 1971 but it covers more than 30 years of new highs and new lows. Follow me nightly and weekly on twitter for my latest updates using this data in real time: Follow Me On Twitter

NASDAQ All-time
This first table shows us that seven of the top ten days with the most new highs came during the bull run of the 1990’s. The top day, Thursday, November 4, 1982 gave us the most NH’s all-time for the NASDAQ with 525 (only 13 new lows). The NH/NL 10-d MA Diff was 222, the NH/NL 30-d MA Diff was 196, the Adv-Dec Ratio was 1,087-469 and the NASDAQ closed at 225.01, up 1% for the day. The stock market bottomed on August 12, 1982 and rose 35 percent by the end of the year as we can see in the powerful NH/NL ratio averages listed above. The NH/NL 10-d MA Diff switched from negative to positive on Thursday, August 26, 1982 and never looked back (the tally was 180-15 that day); this was also the first day the NASDAQ NH/NL Diff popped above 100 since May that year. Talk about a market timer.


NASDAQ – 2009
The list from 2009 is freshest in our minds because it’s present day data. All but one of the top ten NH days for the NASDAQ happened last month with the 10th day happening at the end of June. It’s interesting because the ratio is getting stronger but the leaders aren’t cooperating and we aren’t “blasting-off” with 200 & 300+ NH’s as we did in the 1982 bull, the 1991 bull, the 2003 bull or the bulls of the mid and late 1990’s.


NASDAQ – 2008
We only logged three days above 100 NH’s in 2008, enough said. If you didn’t sell your long holdings and were still trying to pick a bottom, pay attention to this data next time; you won’t get hurt so badly!


NASDAQ – 2007
The NH/NL moving averages sunk deep into the red by the fall of 2007, giving every investor the opportunity to lock in gains and prepare for the ensuing bear market. I’ve already “tooted” my own horn for writing multiple blog posts to lock in gains on this site in late 2007 and early 2008 (see here: Calling Tops and Bottoms: Trend Changes). More articles are listed below. The NH/NL 10-d MA Diff went negative on Tuesday, October 23, 2007, 10 trading days before the NASDAQ’s ultimate top. The index went on to drop more than 40% in one year and 55% to the bottom. Once again, pinpoint accuracy for the NH/NL data.


List of articles on NH/NL Data:

NASDAQ – 2006
Not much to talk about in 2006 – it was an average year with ups and downs but nothing drastic and not too much trending using this indicator. A drop in the markets took place in the summer of ’06 which the NH/NL’s picked up.


NASDAQ – 2005
This year was similar to 2006 as the NH/NL data was fairly quiet with no extremes in either direction.


NASDAQ – 2004
This year’s NH/NL data started off extremely strong with the second highest NH daily total ever for the NASDAQ. Nine of the top ten NH days came in January as the bull market of 2003 (recovery from bubble burst) was coming to an end. The market reached a top in January and didn’t surpass these levels until the following winter. January of 2004 gave us 6 days with a NH/NL 10-d MA Diff above 300, 5% of the total number of times this has happened to the NASDAQ over the past 30 years (128 total times).


NASDAQ – 2003
The bull market of 2003 gave us some of the strongest overall (average) NH readings of all-time. Wednesday, September 3, 2003 is the 8th highest daily total ever (only 2 NL’s that day for a 99% NH/NL ratio rating). The NH/NL 10-d MA Diff turned positive for the first time on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 while the NH/NL 30-d MA Diff turned positive on Tuesday, April 8, 2003. The up-trend started in March and blasted off in April, once again proving that the NH/NL data is pinpoint accurate – better than any stochastic, oscillator or other market tool available. We can’t argue with history.


In closing, the difference between the past turning points and 2009’s turning point is that the former up-trends quickly showed many consecutive days of more than 100+ NH’s, soon to be 200+ NH’s per day. This year has failed to do that time and time again. Until it does, we’ll wait patiently and continue to watch the data, looking to pounce on the signal!

I hope you enjoyed this historical and educational post. If so, follow me on twitter for my nightly and weekly updates (the NH/NL data is the majority of my focus along with individual growth stocks): Follow Me On Twitter

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