Quarter-end turbulence

By Colin Twiggs
September 23rd, 2014 6:00 am EDT (8:00 pm AEST)

Advice herein is provided for the general information of readers and does not have regard to any particular person's investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Accordingly, no reader should act on the basis of any information contained herein without first having consulted a suitably qualified financial advisor.

Research & Investment: Performance update

ASX200 Prime Momentum strategy returned +22.64%* for the 12 months ended 31st August 2014 compared to +14.41% for the benchmark ASX200 Accumulation Index.

ASX200 Prime Momentum

The S&P 500 Prime Momentum strategy had a good month, gaining 5.98% in August. The strategy has been running live for ten months, since November 2013, and returned 15.46%* for the period, compared to 15.96% for the S&P 500 Total Return Index. A sell-off of momentum stocks affected performance since April, but macroeconomic and volatility filters indicate low risk typical of a bull market and we maintain full exposure to equities.

* Results are unaudited and subject to revision.

Quarter-end turbulence

We are now approaching the September quarter-end, normally a volatile time for stocks. Investment managers tend to re-balance their portfolios after month-end, selling off poor performers and increasing cash balances to later take advantage of new opportunities. The result is that stocks tend to dip in October. If the fundamental under-pinning of the market is strong, they soon recover and continue on its merry way. But if there are serious flaws, the sell-off can turn into a rout — as in 1987 and 2007.

At present the market outlook appears sound and the bull market is likely to continue. I often use transport stock Fedex as a bellwether for the US economy. If the economy is robust, you can expect Fedex to display a solid up-trend. If weak, Fedex tends to lead the market lower. In November 2007 for example, on the monthly chart below, Fedex signaled a bear market several months ahead of the major indices. The present situation is quite the opposite, with the Fedex in a strong bull-trend, having recently respected support at $145. A 13-week Twiggs Money Flow trough above zero also suggests buying pressure. Economic activity is clearly improving.


* Target calculation: 145 + ( 145 - 130 ) = 160

The S&P 500 break above 2010 proved to be a false break, with the market headed for a re-test of support at 1980. Breach would indicate another correction. Declining 21-day Twiggs Money Flow now indicates medium-term selling pressure; a fall below zero would warn of a primary down-trend.

S&P 500

* Target calculation: 2000 + ( 2000 - 1900 ) = 2100

CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) remains low, however, suggesting continuation of the bull market.

VIX Index

Dow Jones Industrial Average also retreated, testing its new support level at 17150. Reversal below 16950 would indicate a correction, while respect would suggest another advance. Declining 21-day Twiggs Money Flow also suggests medium-term selling pressure.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

* Target calculation: 16500 + ( 16500 - 15500 ) = 17500

My conclusion is that the bull market is sound, but likely to encounter some turbulence over the quarter-end. There may be a secondary correction, but respect of recent support levels would indicate a fresh advance.

For my part, I favour an approach to statecraft that embraces principles, as long as it is not stifled by them; and I prefer such principles to be accompanied by steel along with good intentions.

~ Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (2002)


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