Major Trend Index
The coronavirus epidemic/pandemic is getting the bulk of the blame for the sudden collapse in U.S. equities, and certainly qualifies as one of the few “black swans” seen in modern market history. We do not think the ultimate path of the coronavirus contagion can be analyzed at this point, and medical experts foresee possible outcomes ranging from a serious epidemic to a short burst of illness that fades with the summer weather.
The S&P 500 has rallied 9.2% in the 22 trading days since its June 3rd low, but the move hasn’t (yet) been enough to lift the Major Trend Index out of its negative zone.
We’d concede that neither the relative strength of Small Caps nor the divergently strong action of the NYSE Daily Advance/Decline Line fit the pattern of a stock market undergoing a late-cycle period of distribution, however, the relatively low percentage of NYSE issues now trading above their 30-week moving averages (45.5%) suggests the market may not be as internally healthy as popularly portrayed.
After several weeks of muted movements, three MTI categories saw swings of more than 60 points. The Supply/Demand category’s loss was the biggest move, and mostly reflected commercial hedgers’ sudden unwinding of a big net-long position in stock index futures. Such action causes this important “smart money” indicator to be more in line with the DJIA’s Smart Money Flow Index, which continues to act badly.
Performance discontinuities across some of the major indexes are striking. For example, while the NASDAQ Composite is up 12% YTD, the NYSE Composite is down 1%, despite those strong A/D readings for the latter index. Today’s action leaves a similar gap between the Russell 2000 (up 10% YTD) and the DJIA (unchanged).
The decline in the attitudinal work was fairly broad based, with a few indicators even moving back to maximum negative readings.
While we’ve always emphasized the importance of the “weight of the evidence” over the individual MTI factor categories, it’s worth highlighting some key differences between the 2018 correction (which saw a loss in the S&P 500 of 10.2% at the February 8th closing low) and the 2015-2016 S&P 500 correction of 14.2%.