NASDAQ High/Low Logic Index
We wrote in the latest Green Book that a breadth indicator that should be more well-known than it is—the High/Low Logic Index (or HLLI)—had moved to “maximum negative” right at the cycle high in the NASDAQ Composite on November 19th. Specifically, the 10-week moving average of this indicator showed a perilous internal condition in which too many NASDAQ stocks were reaching 52-week New Highs and New Lows simultaneously. That’s the very definition of a “fractured” market, and has preceded some important NASDAQ declines. There have also been a couple of premature warnings, as in the summers of 1996 and 2019.
Speaking ill of the NASDAQ is like taunting Tom Brady; it’s hard to remember a good outcome. Still, we must dutifully report a new finding that QQQ owners won’t like.
In the week ended July 23rd, the NASDAQ accomplished a rare feat by closing at a 52-week high at the same time that more of its members were pegging 52-week New Lows than New Highs. That last occurred at the exact NASDAQ high preceding the GFC collapse; there was also a timely warning ahead of the crash of 1987.
Rather than stocks disconnecting from the economy, as some equity bears contend, we see the blue chips disconnecting from the rest of the market. The underperformance of leading groups, along with multimonth divergences in momentum, bullish sentiment, and credit spreads are all consistent with the deteriorating prospects for earnings and the economy.
The granddaddy of all technical indicators—the NYSE Daily Advance/Decline Line—continues to make new highs alongside the S&P 500, suggesting the market should move to even higher (but perhaps narrower) highs well into the fall. As noted a month ago, we increasingly suspect that granddaddy may be telling a lie.