Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bears 2 Bulls 1

After two days of US equity market rally after the bloodbath in the momentum stocks, where are we now?

Market facing technical resistance
Here is my take on the current technical position of the market. As the chart below shows, the SPX bounced off support at 1840 and rallied for two days. However, the rally was on declining volume, which is never a good sign, and the index is approaching a couple of technical resistance levels. One is shown by an uptrend that stretches back to early February; and the other is a well defined resistance zone at the 1874-1884 level.

If you are scoring this at home, chalk one up for the bears.

Risk appetite is rolling over
The recent carnage in the high flying Biotech and Social Media stocks are well-known, but the technical effects of the damage is likely to be long lasting. The chart below shows a composite index that I built based on an equally-weighted long position in the NASDAQ 100 and Russell 2000 (high beta risk-on index) minus an equally weighted short position in the defensive sectors of Consumer Staples, Telecom and Utilities (low beta risk-off index), where the composite Risk Appetite Index is set at 100 on December 31, 2011.

As the chart shows, the Risk Appetite Index has violated an uptrend and has started to roll over. This picture of fading risk appetite forms a negative divergence when compared to the SPX, which remains in an uptrend.

Score another for the bears.

CapEx Index still constructive
I wrote on Sunday that in order for the bull market to continue, we need to see an acceleration in capital expenditures at this part of the cycle and the acid test will come this Earnings Season (see What equity bulls need for the next phase). While it is still very early, the initial report by Alcoa was well received by the market.

My CapEx Index, which is composed of an equal weighted relative return index of the Industrial sector (XLI) and the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index (CYC) against SPX, remains in an uptrend, which is a constructive signal for the stock market. For now, Mr. Market is giving the cyclical recovery story the benefit of the doubt.

Score one for the bulls.

Game not over
So far, the score is Bears 2 and Bulls 1. The bears have the upper hand, but the game by no means over. In order for the correction to continue, we need to see a combination of further technical deterioration, such as a decisive violation of the 1840 level, a downturn in the CapEx Index or some exogenous event, such as further tensions in eastern Ukraine or heightened fears of a China crash.

The bulls, on the other hand, need to sidestep these risks and convince the market that a cyclical acceleration of growth is indeed at hand. Their cause could be helped by further dovish pronouncements from the Federal Reserve or news of a decisive stimulus program out of Beijing.

Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. (“Qwest”). The opinions and any recommendations expressed in the blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and recommendations of Qwest. Qwest reviews Mr. Hui’s blog to ensure it is connected with Mr. Hui’s obligation to deal fairly, honestly and in good faith with the blog’s readers.”

None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this blog constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or I may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.


Volatility Made Simple said...

Hello Cam - I'm interested in running some tests of your "risk appetite index" (with appropriate attribution of course). I think the idea is very interesting. Is it possible to share historical data on the index (the more the better). I can be reached at "email AT volatilitymadesimple DOT com". Thanks in advance. VMS

pipiriko said...

Why would you "minus a short positon in the defensives", thats a double negative. You are effectively long beta and long defensives and that is your risk appetite index. a more reasonable measure would be beta-defensive.

Cam Hui, CFA said...


I think that there is a misunderstanding in terminology. The Index is:

Long high beta
Short low beta

So I take the returns of the high beta indices - returns of the low beta indices.

WimpyInvestor said...

Doesn't feel like today was capitulation day ... what do you think?

Maybe we are entering an environment like April-June 2010?

What might cause a flash crash similar to May 6th?

Hedge funds liquidating from social + mobile + big data + cloud plays?

Or, biotech names crashing?

Please share what indicators to watch for besides VIX, NYMO, CPCE, etc. for "final" investor capitulation.


Cam Hui, CFA said...

Selloff probably not done yet. I am watching the pairs IBB/SPY, PNQI/SPY, IPO/SPY, QQQ/SPY, IWM/SPY and HYG/LQD.

No signs of a bottom yet.

Unknown said...

Cam, I was introduced to your site via a friend this week. I like your work and am still exploring your posts. Anyway, I use cycle methodology in combination with a statistical trend indicator I developed. Systems are indicating that this correction will be deeper than just a routine correction.