Markets have rebounded feebly from their early November bottom, with speculative interest focused in fewer sectors than in earlier risk binges. The hot money is now concentrated in big-cap US stocks over small-caps, and in gold over silver, reflecting a shift in preference for quality over junk.
With upside momentum taking a breather, we’re in another distribution zone, where assets move from early buyers to late comers. The put:call ratio, my favorite indicator of complacency, has backed off its recent highs and could approach the extreme lows we’ve seen recently if stocks remain at these levels for a few more sessions. That would be another excellent short-entry signal.
Here’s the last month of trading in the December S&P 500 futures contract:
Source: Interactive Brokers
If precedent holds, we could chop around up here for another week or so and test the highs a couple more times before rolling over. What’s important is that we have made no net progress for three trading days, and that we have a clear stop for a short position.
The moonshot in the Dow has not been confirmed by any other indexes, though a few of them have made minor new highs. The Russell 2000 remains the laggard, remaining well under the October and September highs. The Nikkei is similarly weak, and crude oil has just been working its way down a channel:
I also suspect that gold’s run is over or nearly so. I’ve never heard so much talk of gold on the financial news and in other contexts. 19 traders are bullish for every bear. This is about as lopsided as it gets, and we’ve had a huge parabolic rise. It is hard to nail down where these ramps will end, but like oil in 2008, when their momentum stalls, they can fall extremely fast.
For another take on things, here’s the ratio of gold to the US dollar index:
Clearly the above trajectory is unsustainable. This is the kind of market action that draws everyone in and forces most shorts to cover. When that process is over, an asset can fall under its own weight. Conversely, the most fear and despised currency appears due for another bull run in 2010, in large part because of all the new debt that has piled up this year in the corporate bond frenzy and renewed carry-trade (borrow dollars and buy anything).
That said, gold should continue to outperform most every other asset class for years, since as professor Roy Jastram showed, its purchasing power increases in deflation when there is a gold-standard and when there is not (it is money, after all).