Tags: stocks | chart | moving average | technical

S&P 500 Chart Watchers Hypnotized by 200-Day Moving Average Test

Monday, 13 October 2014 01:21 PM

With no earnings or economic data to guide them, traders are focusing on charts of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, and what they’re seeing isn’t promising.

Stocks fell below a level today that since November 2012 has stood as a floor during selloffs, the S&P 500’s mean price since late-December, also known as the 200-day moving average. Pushed down by a three-week drop that erased $1.5 trillion, the benchmark gauge was down 0.3 percent to 1,900.39 as of 11:34 a.m. in New York, about 0.3 percent below the level monitored by chart analysts.

“The 200-day is a psychological level,” JC O’Hara, the New York-based chief market technician at FBN Securities Inc, said. “It shows you that the characteristics of the market are changing.”

While falling below chart levels hardly guarantees additional losses, it has the potential to breed anxiety among investors already concerned that global growth is faltering as the Federal Reserve contemplates raising interest rates. The index twice fell below the level in 2012 only to recover within two weeks. When it happened in 2010 and 2011, stocks needed at least four months to return to prior levels.

Fed Guidance

The S&P 500 declined for the fifth time in six days as Fed officials said over the weekend that the threat from an international slowdown may lead to rate increases being delayed. Highlighting mounting concern over the improving U.S. economy’s ability to withstand foreign weakness, the remarks pushed the index to its lowest level since May.

“People are watching the technicals,” Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab Corp., said by phone from Austin, Texas. “I can’t imagine there are other things to keep your eyes on.”

About 57 percent of stocks in the S&P 500 are trading below their 200-day moving average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the Russell 3000 Index, almost 80 percent of companies are down 10 percent or more from their highs.

“What’s most important is the individual stocks,” O’Hara said. “When I start to see the stocks I hold as a manager in my portfolio underneath the average price for the last 200 days, and I’ve been accumulating stock over that time, chances are my P&L is negative.”

Recovery Potential

Levels such as moving averages are viewed as bullish when they hold. The selloff has potential to abate if indexes withstand a breach of the 200-day level and bounce back above it, according to Walter “Bucky” Hellwig of BB&T Wealth Management.

In November 2012, the last time the S&P 500 slid below the 200-day threshold, it took eight trading days for the index to finish above that level. The gauge rose about 3 percent through the end of the year. When the 200-day moving average was breached in June 2012, the S&P 500 was back above within a week and ended up surging 14 percent to an almost five-year high reached in September.

“A dip below and then a return move above the rising 200 day, as occurred twice in 2012, could be viewed as positive test of support and could attract money into stocks,” Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama, said.

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With no earnings or economic data to guide them, traders are focusing on charts of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, and what they're seeing isn't promising.
stocks, chart, moving average, technical
532
2014-21-13
Monday, 13 October 2014 01:21 PM
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