The stock market health indicators are in poor shape.
There are still some pockets that are performing well, such as stocks related to commodities.
I am open to deploying some (not all) capital in these strong stocks assuming they stay strong and good setups continue to form.
A Follow-Through Day this week would signal a possible turnaround in the indices. More on this below.
How the Market Indexes Are Doing
I look at 4 different US indices 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. Here is what each of the 4 indices represents:
Nasdaq 100 – Tech stocks
S&P 500 – Large companies
NYSE Composite – A wide array of stocks , varying in size and industry
Russell 2000 – Smaller companies
I have also started including 2 Canadian stock indexes for those in Canada. The Composite tracks larger companies, while the Venture tracks very small companies.
Charts are provided by TradingView – the charts I personally use.
All 4 US indices are in downtrends right now, making lower swing highs and lower swing lows in price.
The Canadian TSX Composite Index recently made a higher swing low, but is basically moving sideways since mid-Oct. Choppy, not ideal, but at least it isn’t in a downtrend. This index is dominated by commodity-related stocks, which have fared better recently than most other sectors.
State of the Market Health Indicators
The following chart shows the market health indicators I track. They 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 weak, indicating conditions are not ideal for initiating long swing trades.
- 34% of S&P 500 stocks are above their 50-day moving average. 34% 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. When this is below 50%, it tends to be sideways or downtrends for most stocks/indexes. We are below the 50%.
- Volume is not important at this exact moment. Between day 4 and 10 of this rally I want to see the S&P 500 move up at least 1.25% on higher volume than the prior day. This would create a Follow-Through Day. Until then, I don’t really care about volume. Monday, March 7, will be Day 8 of this attempted rally. Follow-through days are often one of the first signals of a potential turnaround.
- 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. We’ve had many big intraday swings in price. That is representative of downtrending/choppy behaviour.
- The blue line is the cummulative NYSE Advance Decline Line. It’s as weak or weaker than the S&P 500. No insight here; it’s also trending lower.
What I’m Doing Right Now
I am scanning for stocks to buy that I like the look of. I’m willing to deploy minimal amounts of capital from my account for long swing trades. The rest stays in cash or is used for day trading.
I do enjoy day trading stocks during times like this because it’s possible to grab several percent in a matter of 10 or 20 minutes in stocks that are moving (and many are). I am primarily day trading stocks with recent earnings, but I’m willing to trade any stock with the potential to move significantly, such as those on the Best Stocks for Day Trading list.
To learn more about scanning to find explosive trades, as well as everything else you need to know about swing trading, check out my Complete Method Stock Swing Trading Course.
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.