Reminder, it is a holiday in the US on Jan. 17. The US stock market is closed.
Overall, stock market health conditions are questionable to poor for taking swing trades on the long side. Since most of my swing trades are based on the daily chart, and the trades last 1-4 weeks, I don’t like taking these types of trades in poor conditions.
The trading system in the Complete Stock Swing Trading Course is designed so that we don’t really care if the market goes up or down. We make money in good times and stay out for the bad times (or possibly shorting)
Let’s look at how the market is doing currently, and why I rate the conditions as “poor”(on a scale of: bad/poor, ok, good, ideal).
How the Market Indexes Are Doing
I look at 4 different US indexes because they each tell a different story about overall stock market health. The stock market is healthiest, and swing trading stocks on the long side is most profitable, when all these indexes are in uptrends.
I have also started including 2 Canadian stock indexes for those in Canada.
Charts are provided by TradingView – the charts I personally use.
- The Nasdaq 100 is in a 2-month range. The price is currently at the bottom of the range. It briefly dropped below the prior swing highs of the range but was unable to stay down. It is questionable at this point whether it will bounce or continue lower. Need to see the price start moving up again.
- S&P 500 is fairly strong. It has fallen off its highs but remains in an overall uptrend and made a new swing high at the start of January. It’s in a minor pullback currently. Nothing of concern here.
- NYSE Composite is hanging out near a recent swing high. Overall though, this index has been making big swings up and down, moving mostly sideways since May with a slight upward bias.
- The Russell 2000 has been flat for the last year and is currently near of the lows of the range. Longer-term sideways movement with a recent short-term downtrend. Needs to turn higher to be of interest.
Basically, we have one index that looks decent (the S&P 500), and the rest look ok if they can bounce.
If it is easiest to make money on the long side when all of them are moving favorably, right now conditions are questionable to poor. Some of these indexes may turn higher, but they may not.
- The TSX Composite, which tracks the largest 60 companies in Canada, remains in an overall uptrend and is currently in pullback mode since November.
- The TSX Venture, which tracks Canadian small-cap stocks (more like micro caps), is in an overall downtrend. Not ideal if you are trading Canadian stocks on the long side.
State of the Market Health Indicators
The following chart shows the market health indicators I track. They also tell me the condition of the stock market overall, and whether it is a good time to be swing trading individual stocks.
All combined, these indicators are questionable, with most of them indicating conditions are not ideal for initiating long swing trades.
- 56% of S&P 500 stocks are above their 50-day moving average. 42% of all US stocks are above their 50-day moving average. It is generally much easier to swing trade profitably (on the long side) when more stocks are above their 50-day average. The S&P 500 indicator is doing very well, but when we look at all US stocks, this indicator isn’t looking great. When this is below 50%, it tends to be sideways or down for most stocks/indexes.
- Volume is not applicable currently.
- The red bars are showing Upvolume divided by Totalvolume on the NYSE exchange. Above 0.9 or below 0.1 are values I tend to watch for. Nothing of interest here currently.
- The blue bars are the daily percentage movement of the S&P 500. Big moves are associated with downtrends and turning points. Small values are associated with an uptrend. Values of -2 are a warning sign anytime they occur. Hit -1.92 on Jan. 5. I want to see those declines level off before jumping into long positions.
- The blue line is the cummulative NYSE Advance Decline Line. While the S&P had moved above its November and December high points in January, this indicator did not. Thia is a bearish divergence, which means there is low participation in the rally. This is a warning sign until it corrects itself.
- That said, it is holding quite well recently while the S&P 500 has pulled back from its highs. If that stregnth sees the indicator push above recent highs, that would be a positive sign. But that hasn’t happened yet.
What Am I Doing Right Now
I am not taking any swing trades that will take weeks or months to play out. Conditions are too uncertain to hold through.
I am willing to make some “earnings play” trades. I discuss this approach in the Drift Trader article. But if any trades are taken in these conditions, I am using an aggressive stop loss and I am out at any sign of a reversal in the stock.
I will also consider other short-term opportunities, but I am typically only looking for trades that last a day or two…more like day trading. Again, the aggressive stop loss is used because conditions are choppy and there is no reason to hold through a potential reversal when conditions are questionable to begin with.
One bright spot currently is the energy sector. It is moving well. I do have a position in a small energy stock, and recently closed another for nearly 3:1 reward:risk. Given the conditions, I am keeping position sizes small, and am only willing to hold as long as the stock and sector are moving up.
Doing these types of optional short-term trades isn’t required.
The standard approach for swing trading covered in the Complete Method Stock Swing Trading Course does just fine on its own. But if you find you are compelled to take trades, even when conditions aren’t good, then maybe adding in some of these other trading styles may be an option for you.
By Cory Mitchell, CMT
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is personal investment advice, or advice to buy or sell anything. Trading is risky and can result in substantial losses, even more than deposited if using leverage.