While the sentiment readings seem to change nearly as quickly as the market fluctuates, an aggregate feeling of frustration seems to be prevalent, from all sides of the tape, but especially for technical momentum players.
Waiting for stocks to form strong technical patterns, break out on respectable volume, pull back constructively to their breakout zones and then see their dip bought with vigor routinely occur in a true bull market. And in a bull market, it is easier to find “clean” charts. The September, 2010 – February 2011 period is a good example of such a period.
Since breaking down in July, the pictures have anything but clean, though (despite some glimpses of hope). There have been some potential candidates, like AMZN, when it broke through 220; AAPL’s initial push through 400; MA’s first break of 340; NFLX’s continued higher lows (through July); GMCR’s march from 33 to 110 (from January to August), etc., etc.. Even the Financials last showed signs of life as early as two weeks ago.
Citing these examples isn’t to say that the next headline could hit the tape and send the market to the moon. In fact, that may be what is needed to do so. But because of the extreme uncertainty, individual chart patterns are a mess, with more than a handful getting manhandled on a daily basis, thereby making it nearly impossible to chase. Traders who have attempted this have often gotten stopped out just before the next big turn occurred. The more times this happens, the less trustworthy investors and/or traders become.
And this is a long winded way of saying that more time is needed before things markedly change from a individual chart basis. Another strong rally may or may not be around the corner, but should it happen, it may have even less participation for the reasons listed above.