Monday, April 7, 2008

Market Psychology

No, this is not a dissertation on sentiment or similar things but a diary entry about how I felt today. And no, it's not about my cat (which I don't have) or a bad trade. Today, my column was on chemicals stocks with a hint that it was really about all basic materials stocks. As I wrote, the chemicals were rallying nicely and then the market as a whole started to climb. Happily, I submitted the piece for editing and then chemicals started to fade.

Not so happily, I watched this and by the time the charts had to be copied and submitted most of the rally was gone. Uh oh, reversal? Breakout failures? Usually this stuff is reserved for when I write on a Fed interest rate decision day and it really mucks up my conclusions. But no, it was on a sector piece day to make me look bad on a micro level instead of the usual macro level.

Don't get me wrong, the conclusions were the same reversal or not. These stocks are beating the market and if the whole thing fades then they should fade less. That's the nature of relative performers.

But as a friend and money manager says, everyone wants relative performance on the way up and absolute performance on the way down. Here, Marie, have some cake.

And what did happen today, anyway? I won't go to deep into it out of respect for paying subscribers (Quick Takes Pro newsletter) but as the Dow was edging ever closer to 12,750 - a major breakout level - you could see the giddiness on Bob Pisani's face. I happen to like Bob and think he knows his stuff but it was almost as if he and everyone else was willing the market to rally.

There's some market psychology for you. Who said everyone is bearish?

But as I said in a previous blog post, the market had been speaking and it was positive. Bad news did not matter. Breadth was getting a lot better and the dead cats were certainly bouncing. That was then. Today, maybe not so much.

Again, I have to reserve the rest for the customers but here is some advice from me to you. If anybody tells you the bottom is definitely in or the Dow is heading back to 9000 and you believe either of them then call your broker and put your money into beer. At least at the end you'll be guaranteed to have good memories and the bottle deposits.

Someone may be indeed right but having such conviction in the face of such huge conflicts on the charts and in the economy is more hope than analysis.

Call the crash of '87 and make a name for yourself. Call direction today for the same result. You may even be right.


Anonymous said...

Well, since you mentioned it.
I find the absolute edge of TA comes from tuning out the noise and observe the price movement.
And I also see myself as a main sabotour, even a thought forming within, a comment to the next guy, opinionated journal entry can whack the detatchment, therefore I find it incredible how you can write about the market and trade at the same time.
Chartwise, pop & dump is near from what I see.
And this dump looks equal opportunity pisser across the map.

texaspawn said...

Chemical stocks aside, everyone has been looking for a bottom recently and disregarding the most important factor, or, more accurately, symptom of the whole mess, the US Dollar.

So long as the appetite for dollars lags the rate at which we are feeding them, we shall suffer.

Keep up the good work.

Quick Takes Pro said...

I am actually looking for a bottom in the dollar very soon and the process may have already begun. No promises on that last part, though.

One cycles guy I interviewed says it is coming in August.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you forget the cycles guy.
You are correct.
We may not have seen the ultimate bottom, but it is not that far from the low we had.